Communication, Communication, Communication!

Most seasoned homeowners have at least one construction horror story. Maybe the contractor blew through the budget like a kid through a candy store with little to show for it. Or perhaps the construction went smoothly and seemed well done, but a year later a soggy spot in the ceiling appears and you discover some corners may have been cut. Sometimes, the quality is spot on, but the timeline takes twice as long as promised because…you know…”things happen”. And there is the inescapable reality of our business: while we do our best to anticipate how a project will go, the truth is that complexities and challenges can present themselves along the life of a project.

Exterior Project, Lafayette

How a design-build company responds to those complexities is what separates “best-in-class” service from the rest. While the mantra of the house hunter is “location, location location”, we believe a design-build company should live and breathe “communication, communication, communication”. At Douglah Designs, we believe honest, proactive and well-prepared communication is the key to our winning reputation in the community.

Fireplace Project, Pleasanton

So how do we do it? First, we invest a lot of time and energy into the planning and design phases to leave no question unasked and no outcome unconsidered. And we reiterate that level of detail into the Scope of Work (SOW), so the client can understand exactly where we are working, what we are working on and what is included in the work we are doing. If we have done our job right, then there is a constant communication and understanding throughout the design and development phase before the signing of the final contract and construction begins.

Kitchen Remodel, Oakland

Next begins the demolition and we, just like our clients, hope that there are no surprises. Yet mother nature has a way of throwing curve balls (hello termites!) or previous contractors sometimes leave goodies behind (this pipe is definitely not in the blueprints!). When a discovery like this is made, it is back to our mantra of “communication, communication, communication.” We alert the client immediately and are very transparent about what we discovered. However, simply alerting the customer to a problem is not adequate service. We take the time to assess what it will take to solve the problem and suss out all available options. In essence, we come to the customer with not only the challenge but several carefully considered — and often creative — solutions.

Bathroom Project, Lafayette

It’s a case by case scenario. For some some things we encounter, all the creativity in the world will not get us around the problem. For example, say hazardous material is found in the home…it simply needs to be removed; there’s no creativity to be had in that. However, say we demolish a low portion of ceiling believing it is a decorative soffit rather than a structural element. If that assumption turns out incorrect, then we would likely get creative about how to still get the height we want without getting an engineer involved. Maybe we furr out a wall to make this element disappear. Or maybe we work it into a cool design feature. These options originate from brainstorms between the designer, foreman and installer and are presented to the homeowner along with associated costs. We pride ourselves on thinking three steps ahead and coming to the table with options and answers as opposed to problems and questions.

Stair Detail, Lafayette

We also find that our clients often become inspired by the progress of their project and opt to make change requests to expand the Scope of Work during construction. Indeed, exciting opportunities in the design-build space often become apparent in the midst of construction. These are the best change orders we get because they demonstrate our client’s excitement about the project and confidence in our ability to execute on an even grander vision. We are more than happy to do everything we can to accommodate change orders. Douglah Designs stands behind a team  commitment to quality and communication. Our concierge approach to customer service and decades of experience ensure that, rather than horror stories, our clients leave with happy stories of projects that are done right from inception to flawless finish!