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Working With a Design/Build Firm: How to Maximize the Design Meetings

A home remodel project often involves a multitude of design decisions, both large and small. Choosing to work with a design/build firm gives you access to a team of designers to help guide your choices. Here are some tips on how you can to get the most out of those design sessions.

working with a design/build firm: kitchen remodel

At Lamont Bros., our Design Consultants are typically your first point of contact. Their goal is to understand your vision and develop a way to make it happen. To do that, they work through 3 main questions with clients:

  1. What’s possible in your remodel?
  2. What’s a reasonable budget?
  3. What are the next steps?

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

1. What’s possible in your remodel?

During the first phone or video call with you, the Design Consultant (DC) is focused on learning about what you want to achieve with your remodel.

They’ll ask you about your high-level plans for the space, how you’re looking to use it, and what’s important to you in working with a contractor. They’ll begin to brainstorm with you on ways to realize your vision, what things to prioritize, and what areas are most important to you in creating a successful remodel.

Tips

Prior to the call, take some measurements of your space to give your Design Consultant a rough idea of the size of the space being remodeled.

tape measure
Markus Winkler / Unsplash

Mention if you’re thinking of doing major layout changes, like removing a wall or adding a second story addition, as that can help your DC get a better picture of the extent of your project and who else may need to be involved (structural engineer for example).

Tell your DC what you hope to achieve with the new space once it’s done: what does a successful project look like to you?

This is also a great opportunity for you to ask them about our company. You can think of it as an interview; ask about our breadth of experience, reviews from other clients, even what insurance we have.

2. What’s a reasonable budget?

Typically on the first call, we’ll also ask you about the budget you have in mind for your project. Our philosophy is to design your remodel in alignment with your budget. In fact, we have a transparent in-house budgeting tool that does just that, so you aren’t faced with nasty surprises or cost overruns down the line.

working with a design/build firm: light purple bathroom

We really want to get a good handle on what you have in mind when it comes to how much you’d like to spend on your remodel. And we want to be as straightforward as possible. If we feel your budget simply won’t stretch in order to realize your goals, we’ll let you know that upfront.

If you’re unsure, we’ll work with you to determine which areas are most important to you (must-haves) and which are more nice-to-haves, in order to work up some preliminary estimates. In all, this initial call lasts about 20 to 30 minutes.

Tips

Before the call, do some quick research on typical costs for a project like yours.

You can check out costs from some of our recent projects here. And the annual Cost vs. Value Report highlights average budgets for various types on remodels in several cities, including the Portland area.

And if you’re looking to finance your remodel but aren’t sure what options are available to you, here are some examples.

3. What are the Next Steps?

After the first call is complete and you’d like to move forward, the DC will work you to schedule a visit at your home.

working with a design/build firm: home addition

On-site visit

Time: Approx. 1 hour

This is a chance for the DC to get to know you (and vice versa). He or she will ask you questions to get a sense of how you use your space and to start to get a feel for your design style. They’ll start taking some measurements as well, and offer initial recommendations on how to best approach your remodel.

Feasibility study. Sometimes, if the scope of the remodel may require structural updates or other extensive project work, your DC may recommend a feasibility study. This will help clarify any project concerns, answer questions that may have arisen about your home’s structure, and how that may or may not affect your budget. Finding out answers to these issues ahead of time can save on project costs and potential delays later on.

Tips

The on-site visit at your home is a great time to share specific design themes or inspirations you have with your DC, in person. Consider compiling a Houzz or Pinterest board with looks that you like.

Chances are you have some questions of your own! Use the time to ask the DC about the design process, what it involves, and how long your project might take.

If you have a specific timeline in mind of when you’re hoping your project will be completed, let the DC know. While we can’t guarantee a specific completion date, we’ll do our best to work with you on one that’s reasonable. Just be sure to keep in mind seasonal or possible weather issues: expecting a two-story addition to be completed in the winter may not be likely!

Showroom visit

lamont bros showroom
Lamont Bros showroom

Time: Approx. 1 hour

The next step in the design process is for you to visit our showroom, where we can walk you through a formal design proposal.

It will cover the scope of work, a formal budget estimate, and a review of the project timeline. We’ll also go over steps we take to protect your home during the remodel, who your primary contact will be on the construction team, and ways you can help prepare your space prior to the build work beginning.

The showroom meeting is typically when you would decide whether you want to formally move forward with us on your project or not.

Tips

Try to have all the decision-makers attend this meeting if possible and plan to be able to stay for the entire session. It normally lasts about one hour. If someone isn’t able to make it, or needs to leave early, and he or she has some strong ideas on the vision for the remodel, that could require an additional meeting and delay the project start.

From design to construction

Once the initial design phase is wrapped up, we move on to construction. But that doesn’t mean your DC goes away. He or she will be with you every step of the way helping you make decisions, pick out fixtures, decide on finishes, and answer design questions you may have during the remodel.

Are you thinking about doing a remodel and aren’t sure where to start? We’re happy to discuss your project and help you make an informed decision that best meets your needs. Simply schedule a conversation with us!

Related posts

For more ideas on how to help plan and budget for your next remodeling project, check out: