Monday, November 23, 2015

The Privately Owned Kitchen Bath Showroom Retailer Option

I love how beginning to write each post happens when an idea pops in my head. Hopefully it touches on a topic you are curious about or need to consider. Sometimes these posts are rapid fire and completed in one sitting. More often, they develop over a few sessions of writing. Once in a while, my original idea gets tweaked by an unexpected event or visit from one of our clients. That is what happened yesterday. I am so excited about the feedback this client shared, I must pass it on to you.

We all know how thrilling positive feedback can be. Who does not love and appreciate being admired and complimented? Both are huge coming from a customer or professional that happens to be involved in a project with us. Receiving feedback from someone happy with our approach to remodeling and building makes everything we do worth every effort!

Lenny Santosuosso, our owner and craftsman extraordinaire, is a perfectionist who does everything the right way the first time. Yes, many claim this. However, Building Inspectors see every builder's
final results. To be complemented and referred by a peer in the industry, such as an inspector, is the top compliment any building professional can receive.

Yesterday, while I was writing the following paragraphs, a couple came in. They awarded numerous outside home improvements to us this past year. Being thrilled with the results, they are beginning to remodel the interior of their home. They mentioned, Lenny is the only professional they would hire.
That peaked my interest to inquire for details.

In the conversation, I asked if they were the couple a building inspector had commented to a few weeks ago? " Maybe, what did they say?", she asked. I answered, "Oh, some inspector commented to our client that, "Yes this is Lenny's job, I can always tell because his jobs are perfect." He went on to say, " Lenny's excellent work is so well known, it is tempting to sign off without actually going out to do the on site inspection. However, we must go out to see it with our own eyes. As I expected, once again, he did everything right."

The gracious lady and her husband nodded in agreement. However, she said "No that was not us or our project. Ours was with another building inspector who commented, " Lenny's work is impeccable! When I inspect Lenny's projects, every requirement is met, not one single building requirement is missing. That is important to me personally. My daughter is looking for the best builder for her home project. Lenny is who I will recommend!"

Why am I passing this on? Well, obviously sharing such feedback may help you make a decision to choose Apple Wood. However, it is more than that. In this newest series of posts, I sincerely want to help all property owners understand the possible solutions, best options, the distinctions, and differences that exist in the wide range of choices available to you in the building/remodeling industry. Success IS in the details. Being detailed oriented and committed to excellence is important. It translates into monetary gains or losses.

Last week we shared the top level of building remodeling professionals, Design Build Construction
and Remodeling Contractors. This category represents the best choice to insure true in house craftsmanship with the lowest concern for potential problems. Please review that post. It explains the advantages of  Design Build ( soup to nuts) construction. Everything in your project is handled and supplied directly through the firms design and construction team.

The next or second option just below this top level is working with a local privately owned or "Mom and Pop" kitchen/bath retailer.  There are many highly experienced excellent choices in this category.
Some may imitate true Design Build firms. It depends on their approach to handling the various phases of your remodel.

At times, simple replacement of cabinets into the same footprint is all a client is interested in accomplishing. If that is so, the design process is simplified. New cabinets that are the same size and configuration are simple to order and install. I would recommend new flooring, sinks, counters, plumbing fixtures, faucets, and also windows be updated as well. The moment you replace the old cabinets with new ones, anything original is going to look outdated and worn by contrast. Most Kitchen/Bath retailers can provide a hand drawn or computer generated design showing the new cabinet details.

Mom and Pop Kitchen/Bath retailers typically offer low to mid range prefab or semi custom cabinetry lines. Some with established clients, from years of experience, also attract truly custom built cabinet lines. The differences in the various levels is pronounced and a topic for a future blog post.

So how does this one step down from Design Build compare? What is the primary difference in results you can expect? Primarily, a direct company employee build team is not part of their business. This fact is key! It is directly connected to the overall satisfaction experienced by clients in and after the project is completed.

Installations and selections of  the other components needed in the overall project may not be handled by the designer you are familiar with and trust. The designer /or owner subcontract with carpenters and installers. It is possible these professionals are excellent. It is also possible they are just people who think they know how to fix things or have limited carpenter skills. It is important to note; they are not actually employed by the showroom. The showroom owner will give you a list or business cards. It is your responsibility to contact these people and hire them yourself.  They are sub contractors.  What does this mean? Well, in the event you have any issues during or after the project, you will need to run down numerous people rather than make one call to your Design Build Firm.  Getting what you pay for is very evident when you compare these two options.

Let me remind you of the many sides of remodeling:
1. It is an enjoyable adventure to realize your dream home coming into reality.
2. Even with the best team, there will be stressful days and times
3. The peace of having one person you contact responsible for everything is worth every penny
4. You must do your due diligence to research anyone you invite into your home to improve it!    
5. Do not sign a contract or give any deposits without referrals and confirming the person has
    a stellar reputation

When you select to work with  a retailer who  requires you to line up your own subs, be aware of the following. The process of very important selections for your flooring, plumbing fixtures, faucets, sinks, lighting, and electrical are up to you.  When the designer/retailer gives referrals, you make all the effort without the help of  the one professional who can coordinate everything perfectly for you.

Timeliness from beginning to end is key for client satisfaction. It is important you  realize remodeling requires a logical step by step process to stay on task with completion and consistency. Every part depends on how efficiently, correctly, and promptly the previous steps were handled. If one sub contractor is not thorough or is slow, the entire project is halted until they catch up. When you are living in your home waiting for access to electrical, plumbing, or cabinetry that is delayed it is very irritating. The normal level of stress expected in a remodeling project can be multiplied greatly.

To end this post on a positive note I want to say, this approach is perfect for homeowners who love the process of being their own designer and planner. Hands on can be a true joy for those with the talent and skill to oversee their own project. Choosing all the components is exciting for them, if they have the talent and ability to select everything that truly complements the cabinet design and style. In that case, it can be a perfect fit. Often, however, it is overwhelming and the end result is disappointing with too many conflicting design components. A remodeling project is filled with more choices that need to be made than most are prepared to consider. You may find  dealing with all the individual details daunting.

As always we are here to help you.  Truthfully, the little more you will pay for the peace of mind of having one contact to be your Project Manager is worth every penny. We can help you discover what works best for you. We have numerous satisfied clients that will attest to trusting their home and dream project to us who will never award any remodeling or building job to just any Kitchen or Bath Retailer.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Design Build Companies

We  here at Apple Wood Kitchen and Bath are affiliated with Apple Wood Construction.
As a General Contractor, our scope includes custom home construction and everything that includes. There literally is no residential construction project we cannot tackle.

Lenny Santosuosso literally became a Lead Carpenter as a young man. Apprenticed by his father, Lenny Senior, he literally learned the Kitchen and Bath business from the ground up. Excellence was a priority then and still remains his primary goal now. Lenny insists every project be done "right" and excellently the first time. His references and referral business due to customer satisfaction is well known. The best compliments any contractor can receive comes from their peers. Lenny is praised by licensed inspectors. They say, "if Lenny built it, we know it was done right." The second best referral is from satisfied client's who recommend Apple Wood to their family and friends wanting to remodel or build.

What is Design Build? What are the pros in selecting a professional that has reached this level of expertise?

1. A Design Build Contractor is one stop "soup to nuts" process from the beginning to the end of a
2. The client works only with the Design Build Firm who handles every phase and detail.
3. There is no one handing the client a list of sub contractors to call to hire and install any part of
    the project.
4. Design, selection of product, demolition, installation, clean up, and warranty is all handled by one
    company, the Design Build firm.
5. A higher level of quality in every phase is key.

We have all read the horror stories of home owners who tried to cut corners, be their own contractor, and coordinate a build team. There is no continuity or team commitment in this scenario. Typically the money "saved"  results in spending much more addressing unexpected problems no one wants to even think about, much less deal with.

Is Design Build more expensive? It can be. However, it is a bargain when you consider the peace of mind and the appreciation you will enjoy on your property by hiring a truly professional experienced company.

A firm who has reached the status of being in this select category, is typically well known locally in the industry. Their reputation is built and depends on customer satisfaction and referrals.

Here are some things to consider when it is time to award your project to a building professional.
1. Does the Designer "get" your dream and listen to what you want?
2. Do they respond to your concerns?
3. Have you thought about this fact: Your home, belongings, family, children, and pets are going to
    be exposed to whoever you award your project to, for months. Do you trust them? Have you done
    your due diligence to be sure they deserve your trust?
4. Do they respect you and your home's interior? Will they protect areas in your home that are
    surrounding the project area to minimize dust, noise, etc.?
5. Will they clean up the work area daily and carefully store any products or tools so as to keep your
    family safe in the construction process?
6. Do they partner with quality vendors for plumbing fixtures, lighting, cabinet, and counter top
    professionals to assure your ability to select the best available to complete your project.
7. Do they follow through with what they promise?

This is one of the most thrilling experiences of home ownership. It has great creative fun times. It also has many challenges and seasons of inconvenience. Who you select to work with truly makes a difference. Getting referrals is extremely important.    

"You get what you pay for!" That is true in the Building and Remodeling world. Sometimes, we have waited so long for our dream home, we can want it done "NOW" for the cheapest price possible. Often, cutting corners creates more stress and problems than working with a true competitive experienced professional from the beginning. When everything is considered, you will be happy you awarded your project to the best, a Design Build contractor.

Please come talk to us. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Basic Critical Decisions

How is the average homeowner to decide the best remodeling contractor possible to award their project to? How can they insure true satisfaction for years to come? Generally, talking to friends and family about their projects helps answer most of their questions. However, there are many options out there. Everyone has positive and negative things to consider.

All homeowners considering a project have the following check list looking for:
1. A designer who"gets" your taste and honors what is important to you
2. A licensed, experienced, and insured professional
3. A team that can be trusted in your property, around your family, and with your pets
4. A professional who can be depended on to do it right the first time in a timely manner
5. The best contractor and product for the best price point
6. A professional who knows their product to guide in important selections

Did you realize all these important issues have to be considered before you begin? This is an excellent juncture to discuss what options are out there, so you understand why selecting the best contractor or remodeling professional to award your project to is critical. We have all heard the horror stories of folks who acted too quickly in their decision process. They may sign a contract before spending the time and due diligence to make important comparisons. That can be a big mistake.

Referrals truly are a great place to start. Finding a professional who has a high percentage of referral business is very wise. They value being considered excellent enough that their clients would only work with them or only refer them to the people they care most about. It sounds logical! Yet, surprisingly naive homeowners can be fooled and pay the price of spending lots of time and money that leads to disappointment or worse,actual harm to their property.

New England is unique. Since we are where America began, we enjoy the charm of  original historical homes as well as newer construction. The good news  is customer's have multiple choices between companies to consider for their project. There is lots of competition which , again , is good for customers. However, this truth boils down to the trite comment "comparing apples to apples".
Great confusion exits in comparing services and products from the myriad wealth of possibilities.

Let's realistically consider the categories of professionals you can choose from. Many remodeling needs present themselves. Each category of professionals may have a focus that can prove be the right fit for individual clients. The following suggestions take all that into consideration. Let's be  realistic, positive, and truthful as I inform you of your choices.

A novice can easily become confused immediately just trying to decide which of the following contracting professionals is best for their project:
1. Design Build Company
2. Big Box Retailer
3. Hardware Store Kitchen Department
4. Local Neighborhood Handyman / Carpenter
5. Neighborhood Kitchen and Bath showroom
6. General Contractor

Let's define the pro's and cons as we compare the distinctions in these possibilities. Being in the business for twenty years, I have been a designer and sales professional in many categories in the remodeling industry. I have experienced personally the pros and cons of each of the categories. I've  witnessed great results as well as needed to rescue very disappointed people who trusted  the wrong company.  Check in next week. I will define the distinctions in each of these categories.