Education and Innovation Equals Profit

When time was measured by counting sunrises with notches on a stick, the architect had the dual role of “master builder.” Thus design/build was born. From my perspective as an architect and a remodeler, the main tools that have truly revolutionized our industry are the process of design/build and the acceptance and promotion of education.

My ascent into the profession was through the back door. I spent the first 15 years of my career practicing commercial architecture, although my passion was residential architecture. I knew I wanted to spend the balance of my career devoted to residential design. Two years into my choice to practice residential architecture, a client asked my partner and me if we would consider building what we had designed for him. Even though architecture is my true love, construction is where the real money is — hence our dedication to the world of design/build. I can honestly say that I am a better remodeler because I am an architect and definitely a more efficient architect because of my remodeling knowledge.

The recent reintroduction of the design/build process has exploded exponentially within the remodeling market. When design/build is executed properly, everyone, both remodeler and client, reap the benefits. Design/build allows the packaging of both high-quality design and construction into one, seamless, cost-effective and functional process that has one-source accountability.

Design/build is no longer a fringe trend but one of the driving forces in our industry. It has set forth a process whereby selling, design and construction can be combined under one umbrella and offered to the savvy consumer who understands that three bids means “you get what you pay for” mentality. “Design and construction are one continuous process and that process is successful when the client is left happy.” — David Johnston a Bethesda, Md. remodeler.

Education may not be priority No. 1, but it ought to be high on the list. Education not only lends to the growth of business and employees' lives, but also has a positive effect on a remodeler's bottom line.

Thirty years ago a remodeler's education was on-the-job training passed from generation to generation. The idea that knowledge and innovation meant money never entered the thought process. Today short courses at trade shows give remodelers up-to-the-minute information they can take home and implement immediately. Several experts provide on-site training and seminars on about any subject a remodeler might have an interest. Today's remodeler also has scores of books on almost any subject in which he may have an interest.

However, with all this opportunity available, I am unable to explain why most design/build remodelers do not make the time in their schedules to best take advantage of these many forms of education.

Therefore my mission: Stop remodelers from providing free plans as part of the selling process. If the client chooses not to proceed, the time spent to develop these plans will not be lost. As we push the experience forward, clients are beginning to understand the “win-win” side of design/build, including the fact that professionals charge for their services.

As Qualified Remodeler turns 30, I look back at 30 years of residential remodeling and think about many of the trends and innovations that have shaped our industry. This magazine was the first remodeling trade journal that I subscribed to. Over the years it has grown and adapted as our industry has changed. Happy Birthday and I am looking forward to another thirty years of innovations and trends.