What is your experience in home remodeling?
In addition to designing for our clients, my husband and I manage the projects. In other words, we guide homeowners from the “how” to the “wow.” We both have advanced business degrees and we approach our clients with a professional attitude. We realize that almost anyone with a few skills can start a remodeling business, and that many homeowners are wary of contractors and workers in their home. We strive to meet the needs and requirements of our clients. Attention to detail and superior craftsmanship are executed in each project. Clients are guided throughout the project so that the end result fulfills their vision and concept. This, in combination with determination and dedication toward customer satisfaction, contributes to the Design and Build experience of our clients.
To date, we have completed over 320 significant remodeling projects, including kitchens, bathrooms, living areas, and exterior projects. Our experience has given us the highest performance standards that ensure consistent quality projects.
How many customer references should I ask for when hiring a company?
Rather than ask for a specific number of references, it’s better to have a list of questions to ask each contractor and reference so you can ask them all the same questions and adequately compare their answers. Additionally, review reputable contractors’ websites, Houzz profiles, and references, and then base decisions on your meetings with contractors. It is possible that the first one you meet with has all of the qualities you are looking for in reputation, years in business, insurance, design expertise and a good fit.
We provide letters of reference from our bank and our key suppliers. We also have a reference list with over 30 names, phone numbers, and email addresses of our past clients.
If you want more information on choosing a contractor, we offer a free guide called How to Choose a Remodeling Contractor. It will teach you the “dos and don’ts” of selecting the right contractor for your home.
Can you provide a “ball park” estimate over the phone or by email?
We don’t believe in “guesstimates” or “ball park” estimates. We would love to give you a quick estimate but there are just too many choices to come up with a number that is realistic.
For example: there are dozens of countertops to choose from. You can spend $1,500 or $5,000 to cover the same area. The same can be said for virtually every component in a remodeling project. That is why some kitchen remodeling projects are $15,000 and some are $80,000.
The good news is that all those choices give us great flexibility to meet your budget. If you’re worried about the cost of your project and getting the most for your money, our design services and thorough upfront planning practically eliminates the most common reasons many projects wind up costing a lot more than the initial quote.
Home remodeling or home improvement contractors who will give you an estimate over the phone or via email without meeting you and listening to all of your needs and desires should be avoided. This is totally unprofessional.
One more point: estimates that are written on the back of a business card are worthless, because all you will know is the price. That is like buying a car without knowing what features or options are included.
How do you price your projects?
We provide a fixed price quote with a price guarantee for the work specified once your design is approved and all material selections are made. Any contingencies are clearly spelled out and we will take the time to explain them to you. All of our agreements include a Right of Rescission and approximate start and finish dates. The Right of Rescission in a contract states that the homeowner has a legal right to cancel the contract and receive full refund for the deposit. When the contract is signed in the consumer’s home, this clause allows you to void the contract within three days of signing it, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Is membership in a professional association of home remodeling companies important?
Absolutely. Trade associations are designed to establish standards for the industry. Specific standards established for the home remodeling industry include:
- Guidelines for References
- Compliance with Insurance & Regulatory Issues
- Safety Program Requirements
- Increasing Trade Knowledge
- Administration of Certification Examinations
We’re proud to say that we have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and have not had one single complaint in over 320 major remodeling jobs. We also belong to The Good Contractors List, which is an exclusive association reserved only for companies that are referred by other high-quality contractors on the .
We are proud members of the National Association of The Remodeling Industry (NARI), which is the top remodeling association in the country, and we abide by their strict Code of Ethics. We are a member of NARI because we believe it helps us to maintain high standards and quality service.
How do I know that you have enough insurance and that it’s up to date?
Many companies will tell you they’re fully insured to mislead you into thinking they have adequate insurance. While reputable companies do indeed have the proper insurance, what if you’re inadvertently working with a company that has a less than stellar reputation and has opted not to carry proper insurance? If an accident occurs and the contractor isn’t properly insured, YOU can be held liable.
We carry $2 million of General Liability Insurance and our employees are bonded. We can provide all of our customers with a Certificate of Insurance that lists our insurance coverage and our insurance agent. If you prefer, our insurance agent will send you our Certificate of Insurance directly so that you will have proof that we are insured before we start your project. Our subcontractors are insured through Lonestar Design Build or maintain their own insurance and we have a system to check on this.
Have you ever declared bankruptcy for this or any other home improvement or home remodeling company in which you owned an interest?
A warning: Texas does not require individuals to have any license or experience to start a home-remodeling company. That means ANYONE can start a business in this industry.
That means newer, less-experienced remodeling companies are doing on-the-job training while working on your home! That can have disastrous consequences for you because the workers are inexperienced, unskilled, and NOT professionals.
Two surveys conducted in 2007 and in 2011 by a consulting firm for the contracting industry found that 35% of home remodeling, home improvement and design build companies that advertise in directories were out of business within 5 years. Unfortunately some owners will close up one business when they run into quality or credit problems and then open up another company with a similar name.
We have a clean record in this area and will provide the details to the above question upon request.
Who will supervise my project?
Don Fleck oversees our projects and interacts with our staff and specialty trades. He is a hands-on guy and is known to pitch in and help his clients in any way he can. In addition, Kathi manages all projects from start to finish. So both will become familiar faces to you during your project.
It is a smart idea to ask very specific questions about the experience of the supervisor who will be in charge of your project. Ask to interview him or her and find out how they handle challenges that arise during a remodel.
How do you screen your employees and subcontractors?
Don started remodeling homes, apartments and rental units we owned in 2000 . That experience quickly taught Don what to look for and what to look out for in the hiring of trades people.
He has used his experience to screen our subcontractors and employees.
We are proud to say that our key subcontractors have been with us for 5 years on average.
They like working for us because we pay them fairly and promptly. This ensures their loyalty and we get priority scheduling from them.
- We have a written policy that prohibits smoking or drug and alcohol use on the job.
- We also have trained our crews to act like guests in your home.
How do you keep your projects on schedule?
We use a pre-construction checklist as well as a formal scheduling system, and we conduct weekly project updates with you for larger jobs to keep your project on time and to keep you in the loop.
- We put so much emphasis on planning. We know all the places that will be frustrating for you and our planning helps to minimize the hassle that occurs when your regular routine is disrupted.
- Our pre-construction checklist starts your project off right. We cover everything you need to know to keep your family and pets safe during the project.
- Our formal scheduling system keeps us in control. Our tool is simple to understand and easy to set up for your project. It quickly allows us to see if we are on track so we can make corrections. To attempt to do even a bathroom remodel without a project planning tool is a recipe for disaster.
All of our planning and controls are essential elements of keeping your project on schedule.
From remodeling your kitchen, replacing your countertop and backsplash, and updating your master bath to adding a deck or patio, installing a French door, hanging a ceiling fan, or replacing a garbage disposal we give you back your time and enhance your quality of life.
When you start a job do you stay on it every day until it’s done?
Our goal is to continue with the process and set specific schedules. However, every remodel has several starts and stops. Some days are filled with activity while other days there are no workers as we wait for materials, an inspection for the permit process or the next trade to start his phase of the project. With that said, we make it a priority to communicate when we’ll be working and notify you of any and all delays. To put it simply: Every day we can work on your project, we will work on your project.
How do I know that you will finish the “punch-list”?
Kathi designs your project and then we use a pre-construction checklist, a formal scheduling system and weekly project updates to keep your project on track.
- We invite you to ask questions during your project. If you want to make a change to the original plan, it is much easier to make the change before we start the task than after we have finished it.
- During each phase of the project, we ask you to review the job and provide any questions and punch-list items so they can be corrected immediately.
- At the end of your project we will conduct a final walk-through with you to ensure your satisfaction. We conduct this after we have gone through our internal quality review and before final payment.
Can you explain your warranty?
We provide a 1-year warranty for the labor and installation on all home remodeling and home improvement projects.
You will receive the manufacturer warranty for products, such as carpet, plumbing fixtures, cabinets and appliances. If you have any questions on the consumer product warranties, just contact our office and we will help schedule the appointment with the manufacturer.
If an installation or workmanship issue comes up after the warranty expires, call us to review and we’ll assist you with the repair process. This has only happened a few times and considering the number of projects that we have completed this should make you feel comfortable that we value our reputation and your satisfaction.
Do I need to be home when you’re working?
No. We do review this and many other items in our pre-construction meeting before we start your project. In most cases, we’ll discuss your availability, install a lockbox, and place your key in the lockbox. The workers can continue with their progress, keeping your project on schedule.
We may need to contact you during the day to answer your questions or to get your input on other items. We’ll ask for contact numbers and the main contact person for these items.
What do you do each day to ensure my home is “livable” during my project?
Every construction project will have its share of dirt and dust.
During the de-construction or removal of items, we use a trailer and carry the main items out of the home. We will ask for access to water and electricity that we use for cutting tiles, saws and cleanup. We have a written daily cleanup checklist that we follow. Our goal is to make sure the site is secure and safe for your children and pets at the end of each workday.
One of our main priorities is to make sure your remodeling project is perfect. But we also take the utmost care to ensure your remodeling experience is as stress-free and non-intrusive as possible.
Universal Design FAQs
What is Universal Design?
The concept of Universal Design is to make products and places accessible and safe for anyone and everyone. It is “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” (Universal Design for the Home by Wendy A. Jordan). So, a child, the elderly, a physically-challenged individual, or a short or tall person could use the product and room and be comfortable and safe within the environment.
Universal Design creates a livable space, including:
- Equitable Use – the design works for everyone equally, providing a safe and secure space for all ages and abilities
- Flexibility in Use – the design suits a wide range of abilities and preferences, such as right or left-handed and slow or fast workers
- Simple and Intuitive Use – the design is easy for all to understand, including those without the ability to understand the language
- Perceptible information – the design is clear to all who use it, including color contrast, varying textures and designs
- Tolerance for Error – the design provides foolproof features, minimizing errors and accidents
- Low Physical Effort – the design can be used efficiently, comfortably and with minimal effort
- Size and Space for Approach and Use – the design incorporates the size and space needed for all to function well, regardless of size, ability to reach, see, sit or stand
What is a Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP) and is it really that important?
UDCPs are certified in providing the best combination of style, functionality, and accessibility to your home.
The goal of Universal Design is to make your home “user friendly” for everyone, including children, the elderly, and the physically challenged—all while creating a style that looks better than your wildest dreams.
What are the benefits of incorporating Universal Design in my remodel?
As we age, our needs for increased care minimizes our independence. Most senior adults want to continue living on their own and remain in their homes, with minimal care from others. By incorporating Universal Design into your remodel, you increase your ability to live independently and function in a safe and secure environment.
How can I utilize Universal Design in my remodel?
Visit our Design Services page for some ideas.