So you’ve decided to start a kitchen or bathroom remodeling project and you have a few design-build firms that you are considering based on your preliminary research – You’ve searched the web and talked to family, friends, and neighbors. But how do you make your final selection? Here are 7 things to look for in selecting the best design-build firm.
Did the company have a studio, or better yet a showroom for you to meet them to look at samples or displays?
When visiting their studio or showroom did you get a sense of the firm’s quality standards and their organizational capabilities? Was their place of business neat & organized or did there seem to be a level of chaos in their operation? You don’t want that chaos to trickle down to your project, and you certainly want them to keep the work site in your home organized, and as clean as possible. If they had no studio or showroom, does that mean you will have to meet at their various suppliers’ locations? And, does that mean you will have to continue to visit multiple locations during the selection process? Having to visit a granite selection facility or an appliance showroom is pretty common, but do you also need to visit a cabinet shop, etc? Meeting at a studio or showroom will save you time, and give you some additional insight into the firm.
In your discussions did you feel the firm was helping to educate you on remodeling or did it seem like a sales pitch for their company?
Yes, you need to be educated on the firm’s remodeling and design process. But, did they educate you about the lead abatement regulations if your home was built before 1978, or about energy codes if you are planning an addition or adding a large ventilation hood over a commercial style range? Having all this type of information empowers you into making more informed choices for your project.
Did they seem to represent quality products for things like windows, cabinetry, countertops, appliances or flooring?
Or, did you feel like you were looking at non-name brand products that were being recommended based on price only? You should be able to have choices for all of these types of products so that you can make a selection that has the best value for you. For example: some clients would prefer to spend more on quality windows than vinyl flooring because windows are typically more difficult & expensive to replace down the road. Knowing the quality of the products available will give you the ability to chose the products that are important to you.
What are the qualifications of the staff members that you will be working with on your project?
Will there be a designer involved that is certified by one of the trade associations like NARI or the NKBA? Did you see examples of finished projects designed by that designer or the firm itself? Have they worked with their sub-contractors and installers on many projects, and do they have client references & testimonials from past clients. People with experience will typically help make your project run as smoothly as possible.
Did you see examples of the types of documents you will be presented with during the course of your projects?
How detailed were the floor plans, elevations, and even 3d perspective drawings (if available)? Do they offer a comprehensive needs assessment survey in your home using things like the NKBA’s Design Survey Form (for both Kitchens or Baths)? If you received a rough estimate, how detailed was it? And going forward, how detailed is the final Agreement or Contract? Is their policy to have all the major selections finalized before starting the project? Or is the dreaded “Change Order” pretty common with this firm? Up front documentation and selections are key to a project coming in on budget.
“Too many cooks spoil the broth.” What is their policy on assuring project continuity during the remodeling?
Is the designer who helps you with the design and product selections available throughout the project for additional consultation and project management? You and your designer know the vision you have for your project best and you need them to be your advocate throughout the project. Is there a project manager for your project and will the same crew stay with the project from start to finish? The project will undoubtedly take longer if there are different crews coming and going on the project. Remodeling will involve a lot of people, but it’s good to have a few key “team leaders” – including yourself.
And finally, if you haven’t already, you need to check on their business integrity.
Most importantly, you must check to make sure they are a licensed or registered contractor by the state of Minnesota. How long have they had their license? You should also check with the Secretary of States office to make sure the company is up to date on their business registration. What, if any, is their rating on BBB or sites like Angie’s List? Keep in mind that one negative report or review should not stop you from selecting a firm. But you can certainly ask the firm about the negative review and ask for their side of the story. Knowing that you’ve researched a firm’s reputation will help bring you peace of mind during the remodeling process.
Looking for Additional Resources?
Looking for additional resources to help make your decision? Both the Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry provide detailed information on what to look for and what to ask when interviewing a design-build company.
Your Minneapolis & St. Paul Kitchen & Bath Design-Build Resource
Of course, we welcome you to reach out to us as well! With over 40 years in the design/build/remodeling industry, we know a thing or two about the process and are happy to answer the questions above as well as your own. At Sawhill, we offer concierge-level service to your kitchen or bath design/build/remodel experience, tailoring our process to your needs and taking care of the details from start to finish. View our kitchen and bath project portfolio to see examples of our work. Then contact us or stop by our showroom to begin your project with a trusted, local and award-winning partner.