During an interview on the Business Savages Show, Peter Feinmann shares seven valuable insights and tips on design-build and home remodeling. If you are trying to determine the best route for your next project, this video and article below will be highly informative.
How to be a top design-build firm?
It takes many things, but most importantly, it comes down to our core values and culture, which are:
- Creating a collaborative team of designers, managers, carpenters, and administrators who work cohesively.
- Focusing on our client’s needs and making sure they come first.
- Effectively managing our finances and projects to meet budgets.
- Delivering excellence throughout all areas of a remodeling project.
What made us successful is that these core values did not originate from me. They came from a culmination of remodeling experience and working with different clients and employees. I would not be surprised if more values get added to our company as we grow and hire new employees. As a result, our success is due to how we have built and utilized our team over thirty plus years in business.
What’s your journey through design-build?
In the early years’ of Feinmann, I joined a peer review group, which consisted of ten remodelers around the country. I went to my first meeting in March of 1989, and a couple of years later, a member introduced me to design-build.
From his explanation, design-build seemed like a more efficient and client-centered way of renovating homes than design-bid-build, the more traditional model. With design-bid-build, a homeowner or architect would reach out with a set of plans and ask for a bid. In many cases, on design-bid-build projects, I could not fully understand the designs or share my expertise with the client because I was not part of the design phase. Also, on every new project, I worked with a new architect and client. This triangulation was complicated because I had to manage multiple relationships and meet the architect’s vision instead of focusing on the client’s goals.
Years ago, a very bright friend said, “the more thorough the bid, the higher the price, and the less likely you are to get the project.” As a result, general contractors tend to go with a lower price, which causes them to miss essential details, lose money, and deliver less than excellence.
What does it mean to be a design-build firm?
Design-build has become a buzzword over the years, so there are multiple definitions. Within this industry, there are design-builders and then build-designers. The latter are general contractors who do some design and outsource their design work. These types of companies are widespread and generally deliver more simple projects. A proper design-build company has its design and architect team in-house who develop unique solutions while effectively collaborating with their team.
A tremendous positive to design-build is that the process addresses the design and its specifications early on to reduce mistakes and change orders. Most companies lose money in the planning phase of a project. Sure, mistakes happen during construction, but most of those are generally fixable. Significant problems occur due to poor planning and miscommunication between the design and construction team.
That is why Feinmann places a tremendous amount of focus on the front end of a project. We commit ourselves to thorough planning and pulling back all the layers that could increase the project cost. As a result, we plan renovations extensively with few mistakes, accurate pricing, and satisfied clients who love the home renovations.
What does it mean to be a fierce advocate for your clients?
Being a fierce advocate for our clients is part of our commitment to serving them effectively. To do this, we aim to propose the most thought-through solution for our clients.
We never want to hear, “We like the project, but we wish we had x, y, and c. By being a fierce advocate, we pull back all the layers to discover the client’s core needs and the variables that will impact the project cost. Our goal is to discuss the plethora of ways we could remodel their home so the client sees all their possibilities and choices.
We live in a business where a company will recommend the easiest solution for them to build, and we want to make sure we do not fall into this trap. Instead, our goal is to create the best thing for our clients and that the end-result transforms the way they live.
What does problem-solving mean when it comes to remodeling?
When you have been in this business long enough, you can start anticipating what could go wrong. That said, problems will always occur, so to minimize them, it is really about planning, predicting, and looking ahead at what could cause problems.
When issues arise, breaking them down into smaller parts makes them more manageable and lessens their negative impact. Some companies like to wait until they can get it done right, but Feinmann prefers to keep projects moving along. In remodeling, I genuinely see problem-solving as not doing the action simultaneously but organizing the task
How did you adapt during Covid to still be able to deliver elevated services to your clients?
Fortunately, Feinmann was in a state that did not require construction businesses to close. I knew many competitors who shut down their operations because of the risk and towns mandating them to pause their projects.
At Feinmann, we thought we could minimize the risk enough to protect our team and clients while still delivering our services. By separating ourselves from our clients, holding virtual meetings, reducing the number of people on a construction site, creating cleaning stations, and strictly following our safety protocols, we kept working and manage to calm our client’s anxieties.
I also assigned one of my project managers as Feinmann’s Covid Safety Officer, who would deal with anything Covid related. This project manager would communicate with subcontractors to make sure they followed the protocols. He would also meet with our carpenters weekly and deliver all the necessary cleaning and protective supplies like masks and hand sanitizer.
Since March, we have been following these protocols, and luckily nobody in our organization has gotten sick yet. One of our subcontractors, a plumber, did get Covid, but since we are taking the necessary safety measures, non of our carpenters got the illness from him. As a result, Feinmann has done well during the pandemic because we did not stop working.
What advice do you have for homeowners that are getting a remodel?
First, we have realized when homeowners call us up; they immediately tell us the solution. Our strategy is to make them take a step back and focus on their problems since we know the answer will become apparent from our planning stage.
During this process, we ask our clients what issues they have with their home and its spaces? For instance, when the kids socialize in their living room, the parents can hear all the noise and wish there was a way to separate it from the kitchen. Or just the opposite, the client wants a way to connect the kitchen and living room to be closer with their kids and family. As a result, we identify the problems and potential solutions from investigating how our clients use and dream of using their home. At times a client’s issues can be overwhelming, so I recommend focusing on the most significant issue first and solving from there.
Second, I advise clients to determine the types of colors and styles they like. If you look at how you currently dress or style your prior living spaces and furnishings, you will get a good sense of your preferences. Recently, I shared a laugh with my wife about this because we generally like the same colors. For instance, we are remodeling a kitchen right now and realized the floor tile looks similar to the tile we chose on our kitchen twenty years ago. Since we both lean towards a similar color palette, this makes for a smooth selection process.
Third, I think clients should strive for excellence, not perfection since the latter is almost impossible to achieve and can cause us to lose perspective at times.
Fourth, I believe it is essential to find a team that can meet your needs and collaborates well with you and your family. If you are a hands-on person who wants to manage and be involved in creating your renovation, I recommend the design-bid-build model and a general contractor that works nicely with you. If you have little time and want a team that can handle every facet of your project, then a design-build firm would be an excellent choice. In the end, you got to find a company that aligns with your flow, managing style, and needs.
How can homeowners find Feinmann, Inc.?
You can contact Feinmann through our website and begin the process by setting up a project inquiry phone. From there, we move from the planning and design stages to the construction and ultimately waking up in a home you love. That’s the beauty of what we do. We transform people’s homes and the way they live and feel in them.