MAK Design+Build

Stearns Design Build is a member of Remodelers Advantage, which is a professional organization of top flight remodelers from around the country.  In this organization, we work in peer groups that help guide and advise each other in a wide range of business issues including accounting, production management and customer service. We consider this our best business resource.  Being in the company of so many great businesses inspires and instructs us. 

Once a week we like to show off the work of our peers from around the country.  This week we are featuring MAK Design+Build a great company in Davis, California.  Check out their wonderful projects.

Coleman Creek Construction

Stearns Design Build is a member of Remodelers Advantage, which is a professional organization of top flight remodelers from around the country.  In this organization, we work in peer groups that help guide and advise each other in a wide range of business issues including accounting, production management and customer service. We consider this our best business resource.  Being in the company of so many great businesses inspires and instructs us. 

Once a week we like to show off the work of our peers from around the country.  This week we are featuring Coleman Creek Construction a great company in Ashland Oregon.  Check out their wonderful projects.

Are Your Reviews Real?

 

We were recently asked if our great reviews are real.  Yes, they are.  But to be totally transparent, they are not sent unsolicited. 

After a project completes our clients receive a survey asking for feedback.   This surveying is done by GuildQuality, a company that specializes in survey for the residential housing industry.  We work hard to make sure that our clients are happy and will have good things to say about us. 

Sometimes we get feedback that is more instructive than flattering. While this feedback is not as gratifying, it is very helpful in providing the fuel for our growth. 

We are fortunate to have won several GuildMaster awards for customer service and we are fortunate to have a company like GuildQuality on our team to help us be the best company we can.  And of course we are very fortunate to clients who are our advocates in singing our praises and providing valuable insight into how we can improve what we do.

The Value of a Free Estimate

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Main Points:

  •          Not everyone is knowledgeable enough to give an accurate estimate.
  •          Not everyone is honest enough to give an accurate estimate.
  •          Precision estimates take time to prepare.
  •          Never sign a contract based on an estimate alone.

Free estimates are ubiquitous in the remodeling industry. And they can be very misleading.

What is an estimate anyway? As an example, I know nothing about space travel but I can give you a free estimate for a spaceship that will fly you to the moon.  Just as someone who knows very little about home construction can give you an estimate of what it will cost to remodel your kitchen.  This happens all the time.

Have you seen that commercial of the fellow advising people on financial matters and then asking about their trust in him? After they have confessed trust in his financial acumen he reveals that he is actually a D.J. and shows a video of his hair getting cut off.

That is a rather accurate depiction of the qualifications of many in the remodeling industry. When these people offer an estimate, it means very little. And when unsuspecting consumers hire them based on a free estimate they are in for a real ride.

Worse still are the contractors who know better and provide an inaccurate estimate knowing that they will make up the difference in change orders. Change orders are changes to the original contract, and usually the original price, based on new information.  There are legitimate change orders. If the client changes their mind about something or if rot is revealed during demolition, a change order is necessary. But some contractors, after the construction contract is signed, will create large change orders based on small issues because they intentionally gave a low price to get the contract. Back to our spaceship example, after you land on the moon the contractor says, “Oh, you want to come back too? Well, that will cost quite a bit more.”

We tell people upfront that we do not give free estimates, even though we often do.  An estimate given with too little knowledge about a project can be harmful. If we are not fairly certain that we can provide an estimate that is within 15% of accurate, we would rather not offer it. In our opinion most projects require some work up front to get to a point where an accurate estimate can be provided.  We charge for that work and we are confident that it is worth the expense to get a reasonably accurate estimate. 

We provide an estimate in the concept phase of preparing a design. We then provide an absolute cost to build with the final design. We also encourage people to make sure that they have room for at least 15% in change orders. While it is our jobs to not hit that mark, it is best to prepare for something closer to a worst-case scenario. 

We strongly discourage anyone from going to contract base on an estimate. This almost never ends well. You need a very accurate scope of work and an exact cost to construct. 

You may also find this helpful: How to Choose a Contractor

Remodeling Fake News

 

College Station, Texas, July 25, 2017, Unnamed sources have claimed that Stearns Design Build is expensive. In business in the Brazos Valley for almost twenty-five years, this company has the reputation of being the best remodeling company in the area but expensive. When asked about these allegations, owner, Hugh Stearns said, “it is just not true.” When pressed he said, “Well, it is half true. We do great work.  But one must take a pretty simplistic view to think that we are expensive. In fact, we save our clients a lot of money.” 

We needed to solve this riddle of how a consumer could save money by increasing what they spend on remodeling.  We found that a family continues to pay for a remodeling project long after it is finished, even if they do not take out financing. This comes in the form of utility bills, maintenance and repairs. Those considering remodeling, may want to look deeper into the equation for value in remodeling.

We dug, looking at the equation for value in home buying.  The consistent benchmark for value in home buying is cost per square foot.  This is a very easy ratio to understand. It answers the question, “how much is a buyer going to pay per square foot to buy a home?”  Experts say this is a near perfect equation for low value.  They point out that the best way to decrease the cost per square foot is to decrease quality.  It should be noted that in Texas, this equation is further aggravated by lax warranty regulations that allow for very low-quality products to be used in building a home.

On the street, it is understood that “builder grade” means low-price and low-quality.  This is not unlike planned obsolescence in the auto industry. 

For remodelers, this built-in obsolescence is a bonus.  It is not uncommon for remodeling companies to be called out to homes that are less than ten years old to provide repairs and upgrades. 

Stearns indicates that by encouraging clients to spend a little more upfront, they can save them money for a long time to come.  For example, on most projects Stearns Design Build provides an energy audit.  This allows them to pin point possible issues in the areas they work and other areas where simple repairs can lower utility bills with a quick return on investment.

In addition to saving money, many clients also want to improve comfort. An efficient AC reduces monthly utility bills and improves comfort.  The same is true of quality windows, doors, lighting, appliances and hundreds of other items in a house where quality may have been compromised to keep the upfront cost down at the expense of utility bills and replacement costs.

We set out to prove the rumors that Stearns Design Build is expensive but in the end this proved to be fake news.  Stearns Design Build saves their clients thousands of dollors.