Many homeowners come to us with the initial statement that they already have their remodel figured out – they know how they’d like the floor plan, they know what walls they’d like to remove, they’ve picked out the paint colors, hardware, tile selections, and so on. Some have even gone as far as pre-purchasing their fixtures and appliances before they have even hired a contractor. In those cases, we often hear the phrase “I don’t need design assistance” or “the design isn’t necessary; can’t you just build it?”
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with planning ahead (we completely understand the excitement of it!) most homeowners don’t quite understand everything that goes into a kitchen or bathroom remodel and why the design process is necessary. Remodeling a kitchen or a bathroom without an organized design process would be like having a home builder construct a house without any building plans to go by. Even if the builder is experienced and knowledgeable, odds are that the completed house would not be his best work. Everything from intricate details like plumbing and electrical lines to larger portions like structural supports need to be addressed beforehand to ensure a quality finished product.
At Medford Design-Build, our design process is tried and true. With over 30 years of experience, our team has ironed out all the details so that nothing is overlooked during this critical phase of your project. Here are some helpful truths about the design phase in home remodeling to help you understand why it’s not something that can be skipped!
1. The term “design” is not limited to aesthetics.
In the world of home remodeling, the term “design” tends to make people think of paint colors, textiles, and tile selection; i.e. all of the pretty stuff that ties a room together in the end. Yes, realistic 3D renderings are an essential part of our custom design packages to aid in conceptual and visual understanding for both our team and our clients. We definitely want to make sure we’re all on the same page about how the space will look and function before anyone starts swinging a hammer! However, in some cases, the “design” is not only about the finished look of the project, but also the organization of the design itself. Even if a project doesn’t require visual floor plans or renderings, our Interior Designer, Stephanie, still creates a “design sheet” for every project we do. This document (separate from the Scope of Work document) is a part of the process regardless of whether or not the client has already selected their materials. The reason for this sheet is to list out every part of the design that is to be addressed, to ensure none of the pieces are overlooked. For example, a kitchen design sheet would specify the sink style and model, the drain strainer, the faucet, and the disposal under the “plumbing” section, while the “electrical” section would include details regarding the switch plates and outlets, undercabinet lighting, and fresh air vents that need to be added. Each section covers all of the little details you may not have considered on your own (sometimes as many as 60+ items!) even if you have previously selected all of the larger, more obvious items.
It’s easy to see how hearing “we require a design” can be frustrating to a client that thinks “design” is simply about choosing the pretty finishing touches, but the “design” we are referring to is much more than that. Once our clients understand that our design process requires many tedious hours for our team to outline every tiny detail of their project is when they see the true value of the process!
2. The design process as a whole takes up approximately half of your entire remodel duration.
In our previous blog, The Timeline of a Remodel: What to Expect, we explain that a full remodel generally takes about 3 months to complete (of course, this varies by project depending on it’s complexity and scope of work). It is important to understand that only half of that timeline is construction, while the first half (5-6 weeks) is strictly the design process. That can feel like a long time for a homeowner that is anxious to jump right into demolition, but again, this portion of the project is just as important as the construction itself. You might feel like you’re sitting still in the water, but trust us, our team is busy every hour of these initial weeks preparing your design for the next phase!
After your in-home consultation and purchase of a custom design package, our draftsman will take about 2 weeks to draw up your existing floor plans and renderings along with the new ones. Our estimators are also working during these two weeks to put together your detailed Scope of Work document and Budget Worksheet. After your review meeting, if you choose to move forward with our proposal, the following 3 to 4 weeks involve our interior designer and the design sheet previously mentioned. She will lay out the details of the design, have a purchase order meeting with you to finalize your selections, and then we’ll proceed to order all of your products and materials. Once everything is delivered and in-hand is when we are able to pass your project off to our production team and the demolition can be scheduled. Altogether, this design phase takes 5-6 weeks.
3. You can use our custom designs to shop other contractors
As much as we’d like you to use Medford Design-Build to complete your entire remodel, only purchasing the designs is an option. Doing so provides you with the tools you need to price other contractors on an “apples to apples” basis, meaning everyone is quoting the exact same project (instead of each quoting their own interpretation of your project). The floor plans and 3D renderings are a great communication tool, while the detailed Scope of Work and Budget Items Worksheet list everything that is necessary for the project to be completed correctly and to code. The Scope of Work document is especially helpful to homeowners that aren’t extremely familiar with remodeling construction in that it outlines the process in a way that no corners will be cut. The unfortunate reality is that not all contractors are honest, and, in some cases, they might quote your project at a significantly lower price by intentionally omitting parts of construction from their estimate. Having our Scope of Work in hand while collecting bids will provide you with the knowledge you need to make the smartest decision when hiring and ensure that nothing gets left out.
Another option if you choose to only purchase the designs from us is to complete the construction on your own. Although we don’t recommend this, there are many homeowners that are very comfortable working directly with subcontractors and have strong backgrounds in construction. The documentation we provide in our design package is everything you need to apply for a permit with the city and get bids from tradesmen such as plumbers and electricians. If project management is your thing, our custom design package is just the tool you need to get your project started!
Whether you are working with Medford Design-Build, are looking to shop around for a contractor, or intend to manage your project on your own, the design process of your home remodel is essential to a successful outcome. If you are interested in a custom design package for your home remodel, or if you have questions about our design process, we’d be happy to chat with you about it in more detail. Our goal before anything else is to educate our clients and help you make the best decision for your specific needs! Contact us today for more information!
The Medford Design-Build Team