Now that you’ve decided you need a design build contractor, what do you do next?  How do you choose which design build firm is right for your project?

First, make sure your design build firm specializes in doing the type of project you are considering.  Because of the current economy, many specialists are expanding their offering to include renovations outside the scope of their particular skills.  Be careful not to hire a roofer for a kitchen remodel.

Your contractor should have significant experience in the type of renovation you are considering.  It’s more than just how many years they’ve been in business.  Continuing with the kitchen example, you might ask how many kitchens does the contractor install every year.  If the answer is 2-3 and they’ve been in business for 5 years, that’s 10-15 kitchens.  Sounds great but if you compare that with a company that’s been around for 10-15 years or more, it’s not much experience.   You want a firm that’s designed and installed a lot of kitchens in a wide variety of homes so they understand what hidden challenges they are likely to encounter.

An important reference is friends and family.  Ask them if they have heard of any good design build firms in your area.  Once you have some names, do your homework and check out further references.  Contact the Better Business Bureau and consumer affairs agencies in your area.  If you want to go online, do a general Google search, check out Angie’s List, and read Yelp and other online reviews.  Also, make sure the contractor is registered with the state since this is now required in most locations.

Of course you will want to check out the contractor’s own website to make sure they are professional and can handle your project.  You will get an impression of a contractor from the materials they present to represent themselves.

Now it’s time to make some phone calls.  Find out how long they’ve been in business, how do they keep their employees up to date on the newest products and construction techniques and what is their process to ensure a great customer experience?  Ask yourself, how do they seem on the phone?  Are they listening to my questions and providing answers with confidence and concern for my situation?  And one of the biggest complaints we all hear about contractors —- did they return your phone calls promptly?

Another question we hear is, “how important is it to deal with the owner of the company?”  Good question and not a simple answer.  If you meet the owner, you will definitely get a feeling for the personality of the company since it all starts there.  And you will now know exactly where the buck stops if issues crop up along the way.  In very large companies, you may not meet the owner and in small companies, the owner may be the only person you deal with during the entire process.  The size and complexity of your project will determine how comfortable you are with meeting or not meeting the owner.

Undertaking a renovation of your home is not an every day occurrence.  It’s a daunting prospect to embark on something so unfamiliar to most homeowners.  So if you need an updated kitchen or bath or need to enlarge the living area, what do you do first?  And how do you decide what kind of expert you need?  No one answer fits all situations but here is a general guideline on the various professionals and how they might help you with your project.

Architects are professionals trained in engineering and design theory.  They have experience dealing with building codes which often change and must be kept current.  Architects usually have broad experience so they can bring different ideas and suggestions to the table.  They also are familiar with the construction of your home and are able to design the new space to work well with the existing space.

Sometimes architects serve as the project manager and oversee the actual construction.  This can be expensive since architects typically charge a percentage of the total cost of the project to manage it which would be in addition to the cost to design the plan and prepare construction drawings for the project.

Interior Designers are also experts at a particular aspect of the project.  They are trained to understand traffic flow, use of space and materials.  Their main contribution is in understanding a homeowner’s style preferences so they can help select the right finishes and colors to pull together any size project.  Interior designers are not typically trained in the more structural aspects of a project so the fees paid here are for a specific expertise.  It is also unusual for a designer to act as a project manager on a large or complicated project.

Design Build Contractors are experienced in construction.  The good ones have structural expertise so they can advise you during the planning process of the implications of various ideas and help you decide if you need a full-service architect.  They also have product knowledge and keep up on the latest technologies.  They can show you the many choices that are available so you can choose which ones will best fit your budget.  They also serve as project managers providing schedules for the work to be done and coordinating the specialty contractors such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters.  Design Build Contractors do not have the high level technical expertise of an architect or the specific design sensibilities of an interior designer.  They have a broad understanding of both and can recommend when a project needs this extra level of involvement.

Cipriani Remodeling Solutions is a design build contractor.  We work with both architects and interior designs, as the project requires, ensuring that each renovation gets the level of expertise it requires.  For over 30 years, we have worked with homeowners to determine the right design for their home and their budget.  We also understand the effect that a major renovation has on the people living in the home so we make every effort to contain and minimize that impact.

Cipriani Remodeling Solutions is the expert you need, the craftsmen you want and the partner you trust.