Designers Discuss Long Distance Projects

"The difficult part of long-range jobs is dealing with a different set of subcontractors who are not up to speed on the details of how I like things done. The other problem is related to clients. Face-to-face time is harder to pull off, and that can cause mistakes in what clients think they are getting versus what subs are doing.”

Ron Lucas, owner

R Lucas Construction and Design

Columbus, GA


"We select long-distance projects based on work we specialize in and can be efficient in producing. We want our clients to receive the greatest value possible, and if a particular project cannot produce the efficiency required to offset the driving distance, then the best direction should be a local contractor. Another key factor is that we have project managers on staff and have long-term relationships with our trade associates, allowing for more communication and efficiency in the field and less downtime, leading to projects remaining on schedule regardless of distance.”

Nathan Wachtl,

senior design consultant

S.J. Janis Company, Inc.

Wauwatosa, WI


"We have worked on projects from all over the U.S., all made possible because of technology like Skype, email and being able to scan and send plans. The biggest challenge is not being able to sell the ideas in person and talk with the plans in front of both of us. When using email it is easy for the client to reject or give up on an idea when they don’t fully understand it.”

Rosemary Merrill

Casa Verde Design

Minneapolis, MN


"Our goal is to offer the very best remodeling experience in Atlanta, and we can’t do that without being onsite every day. With that said, many of our clients travel extensively for their work, so they may be absent during both our design phase as well as the build phase. But, because of our processes of 3D design development, fixed price and craftsmanship-driven construction, they have peace of mind knowing they will get exactly what was promised them.”

Peter Michelson, CEO

Renewal Design Build

Decatur, GA


"We have done projects in Florida, Virginia, Nantucket and St. Louis. In most cases, the client visited us here in New Canaan during the design process. The biggest issues were dealing with builders at the remote locations. We have to get correct measurements from the builders, some of whom do not want to commit to measurements they would be held accountable for. We must also make sure the builders know how to install our cabinets based on our design.”

Ken Pascal

True North Cabinets, LLC

New Canaan, CT

"No, we do not do long-distance projects.We did one in the past and it took a toll on my employees, who spent over a year commuting an hour in each direction. That’s a long time by Wisconsin standards and it had a big impact on morale.”

Abe J. Degnan, president

Degnan Design Builders

DeForest, WI


"We consider long distance to be anything 30 and 50 miles away. We are likely to turn down most projects further than that. Project supervision is the biggest challenge when management and supervisors can’t quickly and easily check in on the project and the day’s progress. There is also a greater cost to the customer due to travel and gas expenses.”

Rachel Peterson,

operations manager

Simply Baths, Inc. & Showcase Kitchen

Monroe, CT


"Doing a long distance job has never been easier between the Internet, Face Time, next-day air and multiple apps. Internet sites such as Houzz and Pinterest provide online scrapbooking that gives us an idea of what style they desire. It is also a way to send ideas for them to approve. Door samples and finishes can be sent effortlessly by UPS or FedEx overnight. The client must have a local contractor to measure and confirm the space. If not, for a separate fee, we will fly out to the home to do a survey.”

Nancy Foreman,

creative director

Performance Kitchens

Philadelphia, PA


"Communication is vitally important when working long distance. We try to include lots of detailed information in our messages. Email is a great tool because it makes it easy to keep records of conversations that can be referenced at a later time to keep things from falling through the cracks.”

Karl Keul, president

Cameo Kitchens, Inc.

Falls Church, VA


"With factories based in Europe and Asia, and with the ability to customize products to meet project requirements, we find we are well equipped to support long-distance projects. We really don’t find any additional challenges – perhaps with the exception of different time zones! Projects we have worked on from Dubai to the Philippines have all proceeded smoothly.”

Michael Gottschalk, founder/CEO

Blu Bathworks

Vancouver, BC


“For kitchen and bath renovation projects, I stay fairly local. However, I have taken on a few long-distance interior design projects and imagine it might be possible to use some of these strategies for kitchen and bath projects. When clients moved across the country, they flew me out to help with their new home. Through my industry network, I was able to connect with showrooms in their city and preview selections before the trip. With planning and focus, we selected furniture and paint colors over the course of three jam-packed days. After my return home, I continued to follow up.”

Tracey Stephens

Tracey Stephens Interior Design, Inc.

Montclair, NJ


"Long-distance projects come with a variety of challenges. Depending on the location of the project and distance, we will set up temporary residence near the site for our crew so we can ensure the same quality we provide on local projects. Other scenarios have included outsourcing to local trades, while we maintain project management. This allows us more flexibility in estimating and can help when dealing with local jurisdictions.”

Jonathan G. Eklund, owner

Ecostruct, LLC

Brooklyn, NY


"The biggest challenge I find is during implementation of the project. I like to be ‘all hands on deck’ when the project goes into the demolition and remodeling stage, and I set myself up to be the go-between for the client and the contractor.”

Allison Jaffe

Allison Jaffe Interior Design

Austin, TX