Process and Design
Momentum Construction’s Process
Remodeling projects for the kitchen and bathroom are different than for most other rooms in the house.
One of our core beliefs is that if a person only designs, they don’t learn from problems that occur during installation and conversely someone that only installs doesn’t learn the intricacies of designing a new space. This doesn’t mean the designer has to have a tool belt and the installer a computer, but it does mean that they have a deep understanding of each other’s roles and work together. The more understanding there is between the design and construction professionals there is, the better the finished project. We believe that a collaborative approach between the owner, design professionals, and the team responsible for delivering the project is essential to project success and a better experience for our clients.
To this end, we break the project into two phases. The first is the design phase which is focused on what we are going to do and how it’s going to be done. After the design phase, a separate agreement is executed for the construction phase that is focused on delivering your new kitchen or bathroom.
The typical process for a project has the design handled by one group of individuals who then hand off the design to a contractor who is asked to estimate the cost. The designer has no responsibility for the cost of the project and the contractor has no responsibility for problems with the design. Communication usually only takes place once the design has been completed. The client now has their heart set on what the designer presents, and there may have been some preliminary discussions about cost. The contractor then is added to the project team and puts together the estimate for the project. Hopefully there are drawings and specifications (not just a conversation) so that the estimate can completed based on measurements and material calculations as well as the bill of materials for items such as faucets and appliances. This compartmentalized or silo approach is prone to mistakes and important details being overlooked that could be substantial and set the client up for disappointment when the true costs of the project are calculated at the end of the project.
Another way to undertake a kitchen or bathroom project is by letting the contractor put together an estimate for the work based telling them what you want and then let them set allowances for the various materials. What if the estimate has chrome faucets and white appliances in the allowance and the client wants oil rubbed bronze? Or the client specifies stainless steel appliances and the estimate has low end budget appliances instead of the professional cook top the client really wants? Which one of the hundreds of free standing tubs does the contractor have in mind and which one does the client want? With this method the client either has to pay for a change order or accept the allowance that’s in the contract. Having a good design creates an audit trail of responsibility for the products and minimizes change orders.
And we hate change orders. That’s not to say that sometimes they are necessary. Sometimes a new and better option is available and client makes a decision to integrate it into the project. Occasionally we uncover remodeling errors from previous projects or things that need to be brought up to current code standards. But our design/build process is aimed at minimizing change orders. The goal is for the final cost to be as close to the original proposal pricing as possible. Big cushions for change orders are not needed, risks are reduced, and the budget can go into the project instead of being held back for change orders.
One of the biggest benefits of our process and that is value engineering. What this means for our clients is the design is developed with costs in mind. They may come to us with a design element in mind. The questions that have to be asked are: is that element appropriate for the application, appropriate for the project, and appropriate for the house and neighborhood. I have had designers come to me with travertine selected for a bathroom thinking that it’s cost effective only to find that installation is significantly higher than a porcelain tile and there is more maintenance. The value engineering comes into play when we discuss a product that looks the same but has lower costs. And sometimes the opposite approach is correct – the porcelain tile might be appropriate for a home in Dunwoody but not a home on Paces Ferry in Buckhead. The project has to deliver results that are consummate for the neighborhood and what a buyer would expect in the area – otherwise the true value of the new kitchen or bathroom is diminished. Our collaborative design/build process takes this into consideration and has the process checks to deliver the best value to our clients.
In our design process, we document product selections, modifications to the floor plan, cabinet layouts, and many other items. Our goal at the end of the design is to have the project well defined so our client knows what they are buying and we know what has to be purchased and built to deliver the project. The documentation developed during the design becomes part of the agreement and our responsibility to deliver at the end of the project.
The purpose of our design process is not only to decide what products and materials are going to be used in the project, it’s designed to educate our clients and involve them in the process of creating their new kitchen or bathroom. The choices are made with not only an emphasis on how the project will look, but the budget, the neighborhood, and future value of the project. Documents generated during the design phase become part of the construction agreement so there is clarity for everyone involved in the project as to what is to be done. The work to define the project that takes place before work begins allowing the construction phase to be focused on delivering the project.
A good design process saves money many times over.
Jody and Henry – Vinings, GA
” We ended up with dressing, bath and guest bath rooms to die for and a real friend. Mike put our satisfaction before his own ideas and we are now enjoying everything we had hoped for.”
Diane – Dunwoody, GA
” We just wanted to let you know that everyday and in every way, I love my new kitchen and bathrooms.”
Sally and Milt – Kennesaw
” When we first started this project, there were times when I was very nervous and unsure about the plans, but you told me to have faith and that you wouldn’t let me down- and you were right. When I look at our kitchen now, I see a creation straight from Architectural Digest. We now have two glorious rooms to show off. “