Let’s eliminate some of the “design build overwhelm” and prepare you to talk with potential design build companies to do your project.
We, at G2, understand it’s a competitive market and that your time is valuable. Read on for suggested questions to ask, and how to prepare for the questions you should be asked too.
Some say that you may like a design builder better if you share have a similar taste in design.
I partially agree with this statement. If there isn’t anything you like or enjoy in a designer’s portfolio, you may not be on the same “design page”.
But I think it’s more important…
If your designer is a good listener and you can communicate your needs and desires clearly & well, then this is a critical kernel of a good partnership, especially over the time the project spans.
Review the Houzz profile, projects, reviews and testimonials. Pay close attention to any & all “before & after” images. Do you get the transformation? How happy and effusive are the reviews? Do they share details about how the job flowed?
Interview two or three designers, keep a written record of their responses and feedback from references, and make your choice.
Key questions to ask:
- How many years have you been in business? How many homes have you built from start to finish?
- Tell me about how and why you got into this business?
- Describe some of your favorite jobs you’ve completed.
- Describe your general process; from onboarding, then through design, and finally through the build.
- How are charges calculated?
- Are you licensed, bonded and insured? What are the professional associations or organizations you belong to?
- How do you compare yourself to other local design/builders? What are the most important benefits in the homes your firm builds?
- How do you work with client input?
- What’s your preferred method of communication?
- What type of warranty or guarantee do you offer?
- Can you give me references from prior home buyers or customers?
- What are the major energy-saving features of homes you build?
- Do you build only from home plans you supply? Or can I provide my own set of plans?
- How and when can I make changes or upgrades before and during construction?
- How often (and when) will I have access to the home during the building process?
- Have you ever had to leave a project before it was completed? What is that process?
- How long will my home take to complete?
- How many clients do you take on at one time?
Questions to prepare for:
- Are you building with a critical drop-dead deadline? A wedding or holiday or other occasion? Or, how flexible is your timing?
- Please share the feel, the look and the design influences you enjoy.
- What are you hoping to achieve? (e.g. lots of light, better flow? Update to a more modern, more traditional, more craftsman, a streamlined design?)
- How does this project compare with the home you are currently living in? What’s the same? What is different?
- What’s the budget range you’re working with?
- Why now for this work?
Each design build firm will have their own line of questions, but these will help get the conversation going to see if you can make a good team and achieve the results you want for your home together.
Interview a few design contractors so you can compare answers and the “feel” of communicating with a new design build company. Make sure your communication styles, design esthetic and work ethics match to ensure a seamless project.
Consider recording the interviews with your smartphone’s voice memo application and have your spouse or trusted friend listen to them too.
It’s not lost on us that this is a big investment and will take time, effort and a good measure of communication to get the best results without taking “forever”.
We, at G2, work with people who don’t hire design builders all the time. Generally homeowners will remodel once or maybe twice in a lifetime.
Ask those questions and, definitely, offer as much information as you can about what you want us to achieve. The clearer the better. For everyone.