Bathroom Design, Custom Bathroom Vanities, Custom Blinds & Shades, Custom Bookcases, Custom Built-ins, Custom Cabinets, Custom Entertainment Centers, Custom Fireplace Mantels, Custom Furniture, Custom Home Bars, Custom Kitchen Cabinets, Custom Rugs, Custom Shelving, Downsizing, Drafting, Floor Plans, House Plans, Kitchen Design, Kitchen Remodeling, Lighting Design, Space Planning, Basement Remodeling, Home Remodeling
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Best of Houzz 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
I clearly stated that if the whole house is to be gutted one should plan for $350K, this would not include design fees, permits, or furniture. I included a disclaimer that this estimate depends on the overall aesthetic to be achieved as well as the “bones” of the home.
If the bedrooms are not being changed and only the kitchen, bathrooms, and opening up the floor plan to the kitchen are in order then the estimate would be more like $250K based on my experience.
I then estimated the design fees at $20K.
I went on to explain the process of working with a contractor and that I was finishing up a project with one that I thought would be a good fit for them since they were budget conscious (and they ended up going with my recommendation, Joe Kennedy of Kennedy Contracting Inc).
In October 2016 Laura reconnected with me via email that they had found a house and were due to close Nov 7, 2016. They sent me the listing, and we scheduled an initial consult 2 weeks prior to their closing. I accommodated their schedule by meeting after hours.
Igor and Laura came to this meeting with a prioritized list of updates to their home, and I talked them through each one as it related to their expressed budget of $200K, even though our initial correspondence in August I had informed them it would be $250K - $350K, not including design fees, permits, and furniture.
I explained that by working with Joe Kennedy he would price out the labor and building materials. We would be responsible for purchasing the finishing materials. If I purchased with my trade discount, then a 20% margin would be added.
Upon signing the Design Agreement and Proposal, I ordered as-built drawings of the entire house. I then started working on the various options for opening up the kitchen and revising the master bath to accommodate a walk-in closet. Igor and Laura stated they also wanted to see options for the wet bar and laundry room in the basement, which I advised that we could include on the drawings to be submitted for bidding as Joe would itemize the labor by area. This way if the labor proposal ended up being over budget then line items could be eliminated to meet their financial needs. Igor and Laura did not want to eliminate anything and chose to go over budget. Igor also became adamant about purchasing a Wolf rangetop and Wolf ventilation hood which I had explained is very high-end and not typically included in general budgets.
Additionally, Igor damaged the relationship I had established with the cabinet manufacturer by calling them directly. Joe, the contractor, notified me immediately when he noticed an issue with the cabinets not adhering to my drawings. I immediately contacted the manufacturer and explained the issues that were reported to me, and I was given options for correcting which included a full replacement of cabinets and materials that were wrong. The manufacturer accepted full responsibility and was ready and willing to make it right. I received push back from Igor when I explained the solution for new cabinets and materials to be provided. He insisted there was no time for new cabinets because Joe had the countertop measure already scheduled. So I went onsite to see for myself the issue and collectively with Joe came up with an alternate solution. Igor refused the alternate solution and requested new cabinets, but he also wanted to keep all of the cabinets and materials that were made wrong. I explained to him it was not possible to keep all of them in addition to receiving new ones; the replacements would be a full exchange. Igor became very upset and called my vendor directly to threaten them and intimidate them into letting him keep all of the cabinets and materials in addition to sending new. My relationship with that vendor has been destroyed due to Igor’s actions.
Igor’s wife, Laura, contacted me a few weeks later to setup a meeting with just the two of us. I agreed and upon meeting, Laura profusely apologized for Igor’s actions and asked that I continue helping as she valued my design and expertise in creating their dream home. I worked with Laura for 2 hours on design details for which they have not paid.
Informing our clients on the process of a professional design firm and how it relates with the construction of the project and the general contractor is one of the more challenging aspects of our job. I have over 12 years of experience designing home renovations and new construction homes as well as interfacing with contractors, structural engineers, architects, artists, artisans, and other designers. From the budget to space plan to finish selections I do my best to ensure the end result of each project exceeds our clients design expectations while providing them with all of the information to choose how they want to spend their investment. The foundation of a successful project is respect, communication, and working together toward the transformation from vision to reality.