Photos: Jeffrey Dodge Rogers
The Design/Build Process
Initial Contact Phone Consultation Initial Office Meeting Site Visit Feasibility Study Design/Pre-Construction Agreement Design/Pre-Construction Phase Construction Contract Pre-Construction Conference Construction Weekly Meetings Completion Walk-Through Project Completion Exit Interview

“Synergy is almost as if a group collectively agrees to subordinate old scripts and write a new one.” -Franklin Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

We at OOTW discovered a few years ago that the old paradigms that defined homeowner/contractor relationships just did not work…for either party…a failed experiment. So we set out to develop our own ways of doing things, to create a model based on synergistic communication and the belief in the possibility of Win/Win solutions.

Many homeowners enter the remodeling process with serious apprehension, and rightfully so. With the lack of protocol in the residential remodeling industry, a homeowner often doesn’t know what to expect, or how to compare contractors. Here’s an outline of how we handle the remodeling process.

The Design/Build Concept

The term design/build refers to the ability of the contractor to act as both designer and builder on your project. This approach avoids the age-old “too many cooks” confusion between architect and builder.

With design/build, there is a level of accountability not found in the typical architect “bid” process. We take total responsibility for the project, and we will never design something that we can’t build within our client’s budget. In addition, if unexpected conditions or new opportunities are encountered during the building phase, we can modify the plans quickly and professionally with minimal delays in the project schedule.

We do sometimes work with architects, but only within the parameters of our design/build process. If a rapport can be established early on between Out of the Woods and your architect, we will form an alliance and together head down the path described below. Many architects are relieved to have a reputable contractor selected early in the game and then work side-by-side to bring the project from concept to completion.

The Design/Build Process

The integrity of the process of working on your home–both physically and emotionally–is very important. When working with Out of the Woods, the process always follows organized stages, from your initial call through the project closeout and exit interview. This process ensures clear communication and expected milestones.

We firmly believe that clear and consistent communication is the key to a smoothly-run project. The stages of the process are as follows:

1. Initial Contact

When you call our office, a member of our team will ask you a few questions, forward that information to one of our designer/salespeople. [top]

2. Phone Consultation

A designer/salesperson will return your call and may spend up to 20 minutes with you assessing your needs. At this time, if appropriate, we’ll schedule a meeting in our office.

3. Initial Office Meeting

All decision makers (children are welcome) are invited to our office to further discuss your needs, past experiences, expectations, and apprehensions and then introduce how we work with our clients. You are encouraged to bring along anything (drawings, pictures, etc.) that will help to better define your needs. Should both parties decide there’s a fit and choose to go forward, we’ll set a schedule for the following stages.

4. Site Visit

The next step is to visit your home where we will discuss your needs, your budget and agree upon a basic scope of work as the focus of the feasibility study. There is no charge for the visit. At the end of the visit, flat fee will be required if the client chooses to commence the feasibility study.[top]

5. Feasibility Study

With the information gathered at the site visit, your project developer will sit down at his or her computer and work through their estimating spreadsheets, plugging in basic square-foot numbers and data. They may look-up an old job-cost report from a similar project and glom a number or two, but they will not, at this point, consult with subcontractors, engineers, vendors, etc.. What will be achieved is a ballpark estimate, guaranteed within 10% up or down, presented to you in the form of a written Design/Consultation Agreement.

6. Design/Pre-Construction Agreement

Once authorized, the Design/Consultation document serves as a letter of intent, stating, “Assuming the actual pricing falls within the ballpark range…Out of the Woods Construction & Cabinetry, Inc. is authorized to proceed with construction." At this time a deposit will be required to draft a formal, fixed-price proposal and, if necessary, conceptual drawings. This deposit is included in the ballpark price and will be credited towards the final Contract price. [top]

7. Design/Pre-Construction Phase

We begin "putting our ducks in a row": performing site visits with subcontractors, getting fixed pricing from subcontractors and vendors, consulting with engineers, creating conceptual CAD renderings,holding the client's hand while they select products, and poking holes in walls as needed to minimize the "unforseen conditions"....basically doing all of the necessary “leg work” to put together a project that can be performed on time and on budget.

8. Construction Contract

After the Design/Estimating phase, we will provide you with a detailed proposal and a fixed price for your project. Once agreed upon and signed, this proposal becomes a Construction Agreement. Working drawings and engineering services are typically included in the Agreement and are performed after it is signed.

9. Pre-Construction Conference

"The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital." -Joe Paterno

Each project has a slightly different set of circumstances and requires a slightly different approach to respect the client’s specific needs and home environment. The people who will be managing your project, the Production Manager and Lead Carpenter, will accompany the project developer to meet with you at your home about one week before the construction begins. This is their opportunity to get the “lay of the land” and complete the “Ground Rules” form where we note things such as what furniture or shrubbery needs to be moved, when we will hold our formal weekly meetings, pet issues, etc. We’ll also discuss what steps we can take to lessen the impact of construction on your daily life. At this time, we will also provide you with a detailed project schedule. [top]

10. Construction

Here’s where it gets fun! Your hard work during the planning process is completed and now you can sit back and let the project happen. Our crew will provide you with smiles, measurable daily progress, and the cleanest and safest job site possible.

11. Weekly Meetings

As decided at the pre-construction conference, you, the Production Manager, and the Lead Carpenter will meet at a regularly scheduled time every week. This is your time to discuss any questions or concerns, Change Orders, product selections, schedule updates, new client to-do’s, and new contractor to-do’s. A detailed, running log of the meeting minutes is maintained and an updated, written Project Status Report (PSR) is presented at each meeting. [top]

12. Substantial Completion Walk-Through

On the substantial completion date stated in the Contract (or a revised date agreed upon per Change Orders), we will do a walk-through with you to create and sign a final Punch List of items to be completed. We also provide you with a two-year warranty, which begins on the date of the signed Punch List.

13. Project Completion

Hooray! This is what makes it all worth the effort, though some clients describe missing the crew and experiencing a sort-of "post-remodeling depression." The best remedy is to start planning the next project!

14. Exit Interview

“When you turn over rocks and look at all the squiggly things underneath, you can either put the rock down, or you can say, ‘My job is to turn over rocks and look at the squiggly things,’ even if what you see can scare the hell out of you.” — Pitney Bowes executive, Fred Purdue

Greg Antonioli, our owner, will spend about an hour with you in your home to “turn over rocks”. We’ll discuss how your project went, how the individual members of our team performed, and ultimately, if we met, exceeded, or fell short of your expectations and how. Our clients give the best feedback about where to focus our improvement efforts. We’ve found that the more rocks we turn over on a regular basis, the fewer squiggly things we find. [top]