Tell me if you’ve heard this one before:

After several years of saving up money, a couple decide they want to finally do that big kitchen renovation — update the appliances, open up the space, make the cupboards a little trendier, the whole nine yards. They bring in a designer and describe everything they want. So this designer creates a gorgeous design, totally nails it, and the home owners are in love. Then, the homeowners bring in a contractor. After a quick lookaround, the contractor points out all the ways the design won’t work: they’ll need to upgrade the electrical and HVAC to support the new fixtures, there’s no way you can move that wall within budget because there’s venting in there, and the tile they fell in love with will take two months to bring in. After all that, the contractor comes back with an estimate that is so far beyond the client’s budget they’re afraid to move forward.

This happens all. the. time. And what’s really frustrating is that no one is really wrong — the designer is pushing for the look, feel and function she wants for the space, while the contractor is working in the realm of what’s actually possible.

img2727I Know A Guy has a different approach. The designer, the contractor and the homeowner are set up to work together, making sure the designer is working within the client’s budget, the contractors have a clear outline from the designer, and the number quoted at the start of the project is exactly what the homeowners pay at the end of the project.

All it takes is open communication, and the correct order of conversations, outlined below:


Step 1: The End justifies Establishes the Means

The first thing we do is meet with the client and go over our Service Outline. Before any design conversations happen, we talk about the end goal the client has for the space and help set out the priorities: What are the must-haves, what are the wants, and what would they like to have but could live without or postpone?

We provide an estimate based on this info and use that to create a budget for the designer.  Rather than clients having a fabulous design they can’t afford, then having to let go of their beloved backsplash and free-standing tub, they’ll be basing their design on items that are within budget.

This way, there are no surprise costs, and as previously mentioned, the bill made during the quote is the same one at the end of the project. A huge plus.

IMG_1590Step 2: It’s Design’s Time to Shine

After we’ve gathered all this information, we bring in the designer — such as Yvonne of Yvonne Choe Design. The contractor, rather than seeing her as an opponent, walks her through the project. The designer then knows which walls can move and which are out of the budget, where she might place a niche or custom piece, what plumbing can be moved and what can’t, etc. Yvonne offered a few words for this post:

“Working with I Know A Guy is generally much more efficient than the typical design. Really, it’s an amazing process that you’ve really thought out.

“Typically the designer works with the client to put together a vision for the project with limited information on budget. Then once the contractor prices the design we often inevitably discover that the project is over budget and we then have to rethink many elements to reduce cost. Essentially we design twice.

“With your approach, the budget has been discussed and a realistic road map for the design is in place before we begin. It’s also a great reference tool for me when shopping with clients. When they fall in love with Tile A that is a bit over budget, it’s not a big deal. I’m able to keep them informed and we work together to reduce costs elsewhere.”

(It’s really important to us to know about the world of the professionals we work with and how to make their job easier and more enjoyable. It’s about appreciating what they do, and understanding the effort that goes into each role.)

  1. Can We Build It?2013-12-05-15.13.21-300x199

Yes we can! Because we know it’s exactly what the homeowners want, exactly what the construction of the house makes possible, and exactly what the budget allows.

So tell us if you’ve heard this one before:

A couple has been saving for years, and they decide to do a big home renovation. They call in a contractor who looks around the house to see what can and can’t be done, then works with the homeowners to understand what their vision is for the space. The designer comes in and, working with a budget, comes up with a design that captures all of the things the homeowners want. Then the contractors — all very respectful and kind people — come in to do the work, clean up after themselves, and are always available for questions. The work is done on time, within budget, and looks amazing.

Admittedly, it’s a less exciting story. But it’s one we’ve been telling for years.

OUR DESIGN PROCESS: How we bridge the gap between homeowners, designers and contractors