When you spend six months working with a general contractor/interior designer, it is difficult to sum up your experience with them in a brief review...so mine is long! We had many conversations, some of which were arguments/disagreements, but we did develop a meaningful relationship. With that in mind, I gave Beverly five stars for the overall outcome, despite some constructive criticism you will read below.
It all started when our house flooded from Hurricane Harvey in August of 2017, and we were in a hurry to remediate and re-model our home. Beverly was the first and only candidate that came up by means of her daughter, who is a personal friend of mine. What I liked about Beverly from the beginning was her empathy. Rather than seeing dollar signs, she realized our trauma and truly voiced her sadness for us. She gave us many hugs, and worked on coming up with a fair price that we could all feel comfortable with. In the end, we agreed on a flat rate design fee, half of which would be paid in the beginning and the other half at the end. On top of that, she would charge cost plus a percentage in commission on any work done through her subcontractors, and on any furniture purchased through her venues.
Beverly did not take on more than two jobs at a time, something that is very rare for general contractors, especially at an opportune time such as post-hurricane, when many flood victims were in need of a contractor. She devoted her whole self to her clients, and spent nearly every waking moment working on the forward progress of her client's projects. We hired her in September 2017, and we were back in our house by March 2018 – exactly six months from start to finish. This is super fast in the world of remodeling, especially for an entire first floor of a house.
The qualities I like most about Beverly are her excellent communication skills, her expediency, her determination, and her extensive knowledge and experience in the industry. For better or for worse, we received a barrage of phone calls, texts and emails from her. She made sure that every step of the way, we were aware of what was happening next and what role we needed to play in it. If I called or texted her, she was very quick to respond unless she was on vacation or teaching a class. When there was something I needed, she immediately called the contact needed to move forward and did not wait even a minute to relay the information (I believe she just didn't want to forget to do it!). As for her determination...I'm not sure I've ever met someone with so much chuztpah (that's Yiddush, that can best be translated to being a "firecracker"). Beverly knew how to get sh** done, and no one can argue with that. She doesn't necessarily care what people think of her if it means fighting to get exactly what her clients want. She knows what she needs to do to make things happen, and you gotta love her for everything that that entails. As for her skill set, I would rate her pretty high up there. She stays in-the-know on the latest trends and most popular materials. She knows more than enough contacts at any given store/company in the industry that are already programmed into her phone contacts. She was very helpful in giving me the information I needed and was very budget conscious, and fair with keeping me at my limit or under it. The best part about her advice, was that she really wanted me to be the one who ultimately made the choices. She wanted me to love what was selected, and she ended up being more of a guide on coordinating the things/style I gravitated towards.
One of the things that we feel could be improved upon is Beverly working on talking less and listening more. Many times it became difficult to get a word in as she would talk a mile per minute and not come up for air! If I needed to say something or refute what she was saying, I often had to raise my voice and talk over her to get her to listen to me. As time went on, this calmed down a little and texting became the main form of communication so I could make sure she knew my thoughts. At times, Beverly came off as pushy, even though she didn't intend to be that way. She wanted us to get back in our house ASAP, and for that reason, we had to make decisions quickly. Sometimes it felt as if she was "jumping the gun," or just didn't let us meditate too long on a major choice/investment. In the end, she remained patient, but it wasn't her nature. As expected in this industry, things come up, things go wrong, dilemmas are bound to happen. When it came time to placing the blame and moving forward, she would deny anything being her fault or within her control. The phrase "the customer is always right" needs to be remembered in times like this, and sometimes you need to take responsibility for some of the actions taken by your subcontractors. This is where we got into some pretty heated arguments, however, that is part of this kind of relationship and she did propose reasonable compromises on every issue. Since I have never done a remodel/renovation, I was unaware of some of the common work practices of designers. However, I was told by several different people from different stores/venues that Beverly should have made some preliminary drawings of how the general outcome would look of our first floor of our house. When I questioned her about it, she claimed she didn't need to do that when we had no idea what we wanted. She needed to know our budget (which we couldn't know until we had more information from our insurance) before she could sketch anything out. The only thing she drew was a rough draft of our kitchen so we could work with the cabinet maker on how exactly he was going to set up the kitchen space. There were also a decent amount of squabbles between Beverly and her subcontractors. I believe this happens often in the industry, but I believe some of the disagreements and unfortunate results could have been handled in a less reactive manner. Lastly, Beverly took several vacations during our time working together. It was very contradictory to how hard she worked in general, which is very hard! She at least kept the lines of communication open with us even when she was away (for the most part).
All of that said, we love our re-model. We love what we have chosen, thanks to her guidance and contacts and venues. We became friends with Beverly, and I really do miss talking to her! A few issues have come up with some of our new products that have been installed, and she immediately came to the rescue and has remedied the problems with her usual expediency! It is hard to find someone like Beverly, and I feel like we got lucky finding her to help us during such a trying time in our lives.