Kitchen Inventory

The thought of designing and enjoying a new kitchen is exciting! There are so many new materials and trends. The possibilities are endless. You can picture those new appliances, a back-splash just like the one you saw in Houzz or the counter top you saw on the Stearns Design Build page.

It is easy to get caught up in the glitz and lose sight of designing a kitchen to fit your life style and your stuff. It is not at all uncommon for customers of other design firms to get finished with their new kitchen and start to wonder where they will put everything. Of course, that is backwards. 

It is best to consider where you are going to put everything as you begin design. That is the advantage of custom design – it allows you to design to the specifics of your life. It is exciting to design a kitchen that fits you like a glove.

Don’t forget to think ahead. Plan for what you have and what you think you will have in the future. If you had more pantry space, what would you put there?

To help you list your Kitchen inventory we provide the Kitchen Inventory Worksheet. 

Press Release

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Stearns Design Build Named by REMODELING Magazine to its 2017 Big50 Class of America’s Top Remodelers

College Station, Texas (September 12, 2017) – Stearns Design Build has been selected by REMODELING magazine to join the REMODELING Big50. Each year since 1986, the REMODELING Big50 inducts 50 remodeling companies that have set exceptionally high standards for professionalism and integrity through exemplary business practices, craftsmanship, and impact in their community or the industry at large. Big50 remodelers run successful companies that have taken the lead in raising industry standards.

“To give a sense of how unique this status is, consider there are roughly 92,000 remodeling firms in America with paid staff,” noted Craig Webb, REMODELING’s Editor-in-Chief. “Since 1986, we have selected only about 1,550 firms. That’s 1.7% of all the remodeling businesses in the country.”

“We are honored to receive this distinction,” says Hugh Stearns, president of Stearns Design Build. “The award recognizes excellence and leadership, and we are privileged to be named to this select group of remodelers.”

REMODELING editors, columnists, industry leaders, and companies themselves make the nominations each year.  Following a lengthy evaluation and interview process, the editors select the 50 companies who exemplify the best of the industry that year, and who have something to offer other remodelers in proven practices.

The Big50 selection process has become increasingly rigorous in recent years, and the result, REMODELING editors believe, is one of the strongest classes to date. “Uniting the 2017 inductees are high standards and a determination to excel. They are taking the opportunity to build or adopt new efficiencies into their systems and processes— ensuring that they are poised to meet their sales, production, and customer-service goals and continue to thrive,” according to REMODELING.

The Big50 awards will be presented at a dinner at the Remodelers Summit and Awards Gala on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 in Minneapolis. The 2017 Big50 winners will be featured in the September issue of REMODELING, with longer profiles of the winners posted on the REMODELING website,

Stearns Design Build was founded in in College Station in 1993. The company specializes in all aspects of single family residential remodeling such as kitchens, baths, additions and whole house remodeling. In addition to being a Big50 recipient, Stearns Design Build has also been a Newman 10 recipient and winner of the GuildMaster customer service award. They can be found at

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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.

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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. 

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