What is a Design + Build Firm?

Historically people have approached remodels in silos — first hiring an architect to develop plans, then connecting with contractors to bid it, then filling in the gaps with decorators. Design + Build is the idea that you don’t have to go to multiple companies to solve your problem. It’s an all-under-one-roof approach with a designer and draftsman on staff, in addition to our carpenters in the field. 

Having the “Build” brain collaborate with the “Design” brain early on can avoid a lot of redraws. But perhaps the most appealing part of the Design + Build concept is everything we take care of between the blueprints and hammer — that is to say all the decisions about countertops, tile, lighting, cabinets — things architects don’t often handle. And no surprise: these selections are vital in arriving at an accurate bid.

Should I get multiple bids?

The desire for multiple bids is usually predicated on the fear that you otherwise won’t get the best deal. To that we would say, interview several firms, but choose a company that you love being around, that will serve your family well, that will communicate well and often in a way that makes you feel at ease, that will warranty their work and be around to deliver on that warranty and that listens to you. Then trust them to design a scope of work that fits your budget and to negotiate pricing on your behalf. 

Many of us working in Hallbrook, Mission Hills, Sunset Hills and Leawood are using the same vendors, lumber yards and subs. So if you were to truly bid the same scope of work — down to the very same cabinet hinges and dimmer switches — with two companies who offer the same level of service, the numbers would very likely be within dollars of each other. So consider price, but choose personality.

How do I get a “bid” from Scovell?

After a quick phone call and subsequent on-site meeting, we’ll determine if it makes sense to enter into a Pre-Construction Design Agreement. This is separate and apart from the Construction Agreement, and what allows us to develop the project to the extent necessary to arrive at a final price, or “bid.” 

Under an agreement, we are able to invest extensive time in designing, developing and estimating. We collaborate with you on the design until we arrive at a price that you are most comfortable with. We work with you to solidify all of your selections. We contact city planning to ensure approval of your proposed remodel. We meet subcontractors at your house to evaluate existing conditions.  In the end, with so many details attended to, we not only can hand you a comprehensive proposal with a fixed price, but if approved by you for construction, we can hand our Production team a complete and in-depth plan of action.

Is getting a “bid” via The Design Agreement free?

The fee associated with our Design Agreement is what covers all of the design and drafting work you would otherwise pay a third party architectural firm to do. 

Depending on the project, we either approach the Design Agreements using a fixed price contract (when the scope is very defined) or using an hourly agreement (when the scope is evolving). 

Typical design costs under a fixed agreement are approximately $3-6k for a master bathroom or kitchen, but it all depends on the complexity of your project. While the Pre-Construction Design Agreement often shakes out to be somewhere between 3-5% of construction costs, it’s actually priced by setting budgets for each pre-construction task (X hours for the site measure; X hours for renderings, etc.) So it’s really a function of estimated hours, not necessarily of the remodeling project value.

Is it possible to get a ballpark estimate before entering The Design Process?

You bet! At your initial on-site appointment we will discuss budget and probable cost. Then, after signing on we’ll build a preliminary budget internally to make sure we know what targets we need to hit in order to stay at a price you’re comfortable with.

As the steps in the Design Process are worked through, we work with the team to update our internal estimate with revised placeholders for each component of the budget. Once the design is settled and the floorplan approved, we hold the Trade Walk and procure actual pricing. At that point we package it into a Proposal. We don’t present a line item estimate at any point. But we do give a very detailed accounting of the Scope of Work and what is and is not included.

Why are the Designer’s hours an allowance in a fixed price The Design Agreement?

Every client’s needs are a bit different so we want to allow the flexibility for them to engage with our Designer in a manner that makes sense. We include a good amount of time for our designer, if you plan to use her, but if you go over, it’s no problem, we will bill you accordingly if you need more help! 

Do clients typically go over their designer hours allotted in The Design Agreement?

Some do and some don’t! Decisiveness is the primary factory for staying within the hour allotment. For most of our clients, what we include upfront is the right amount and because we update you weekly on hours used you’ll be in a good place to decide if you want to speed up your decision making or if you’re okay exceeding the allowance to keep seeing more options.

Decisiveness aside, the other factors are how well you and your spouse agree on things and how much “hand-holding” you want. Most of our clients are content seeing a moodboard, giving feedback, and then having our designer order samples. Other than a visit to select appliances and countertops in person many of our clients choose not to visit other local showrooms because they trust that we’ve surveyed all the options and found the best ones for both their style and budget.  But occasionally we have a client who wants to touch and feel everything and wants a designer by their side when they do it!

How long does The Design Process take?

10-14 weeks on average. It depends on your availability to attend meetings and your ability to make decisions.

Do you provide multiple floor plan option during The Design Phase?

Yes, we typically show two concepts. Occasionally there’s only one way to approach it while still achieving your goals and staying in budget. But if there are two smart, feasible options we will show you both.

Is a 3D walk through provided during The Design Process?

Yes. Sometimes we print different views and present them to you at your house. If you’re able to come into the office we can do an actual 3D “walk through” on our conference room screen.

Do we keep the plans if we decide not to build?

Many of our drawings will be shared with you via email, so you will retain the PDFs. However we could not be held liable for any errors or omissions should another firm build from our plans.

Do I always have to have plans for my project?

Every project needs a plan, but that is what our Design Agreements are for!  During The Design Process we develop those plans on your behalf. Depending on the nature of your project (an addition vs. a bathroom remodel) we may engage a third-party architect at some point.

What if I already have a relationship with an architect or designer?

Some of our favorite projects are the fruit of working with outside firms. We still apply the same collaborative approach by working with the outside parties from the beginning so you avoid getting too far down a road that isn’t feasible or isn’t within your budget to build.

During construction, do we still have access to design services?

We’ll make all design decisions possible up front before construction begins. Our construction contracts are on a fixed price basis. We always build in a budget for our designer as we know that she will be there to check in with you throughout the project at the electrical walk-through, the cabinet install, etc. etc. If a client makes a change mid-construction that requires the designer’s time and attention to develop it, her hours would simply be added to the cost of the proposed Change Order. For instance, a client recently decided to add a custom built-in bed to the scope that required some research, drawings and photoshopping. Our designer estimated the time she would need and it was rolled into the Change Order we proposed. All that said, our designer gets very invested in the projects so she stops in quite frequently just to make sure all is going according to plan!  

How should I go about getting started?

To gain a better “big picture” perspective, you should visit our Process page. That said, it all starts with a phone call to our office, followed by an on-site appointment.

How often do you see clients go over their fixed price construction bid?

As a fixed price construction agreement, there are very few ways in which a client goes “over budget.” We do our best to make all decisions prior to construction with very few, if any, “allowances.” As such there are essentially only two opportunities or risk exposures for the price to increase: Client-requested Change Orders and Site Driven Change Orders

We typically see 2-3 Client-requested Change Orders on a project. These range from deciding later to do wallpaper in a powder bathroom to repainting more of the house than planned.

Site Driven Change Orders are definitely something to count on in an older home. We try to alert you in our proposal of possible snags if we see evidence of a potential problem during design. For instance we may say that based on what we can see we think the tile in your kitchen once removed will allow us to lay new hardwoods that are flush with the adjoining rooms. During demolition we may discover that they in fact need to be shimmed in order to transition seamlessly with another room. If we know there’s that risk we’ll include in our write-up a “note” warning you of that possibility.

We would expect to see clients spend between 1 and 3k on these kinds of Site Driven Change Orders. In the grand scheme, it’s not as bad as most people fear!

How much will my project cost per square foot?

No two kitchens are alike, no two bathrooms are alike, no two room additions are alike and the existing conditions of the house being worked on are never alike – thus a cost per square foot just can’t be used in remodeling like it can in new construction.

How much do kitchens cost?

Oh, how we wish we could answer that easily! There are so many factors: the size of the kitchen, of course; the age and structural/mechanical complexity of the house. And then all the selections! Slab backsplash or subway tile? Under-cabinet lighting? New windows? New flooring? Moving the plumbing? Moving walls? 

While we’ve done kitchens at all different price points, we tend to see homeowners’ in our area spending $80-$100k+. What will yours cost? Until a plan is drawn and selections made, it’s anyone’s guess. But if you tell us what you’re willing and able to spend we’ll work to curate a design commensurate with that number.

What about Bathroom budgets?

Again, so many factors. But in the bathrooms we most often work on in Hallbrook, Mission Hills, Sunset Hills we often see clients spending north of 60k in their master.

Will we get what we put into the remodel back out if we sell?

Honestly, probably not unless you’ve lived in the house long enough, or you bought it for a great price. It usually takes years to recoup your investment. So for it to be worth putting so much cash into your home, you have to be investing in more than “your asset.” You have to believe in the value of improving the way yourfamily will function in the new floorplan, or in the way you’ll enjoy cooking and gathering with friends in your new kitchen.

Can I live at home during my remodel?

In many cases the answer is yes. If you are remodeling a kitchen we can even help you set up a temporary kitchen in another room. Of course, if you are planning on a whole house remodel, you will need to find someplace else to live.

How long will my project take to complete?

After 25 years in the industry, we know that when we speak the words “two to three months,” all the client hears is “two months!” So while we dread this question given the dozens of variables that make answering it so difficult (weather, backorders, unforeseen issues discovered behind walls), we know that it’s one of the most desired answers! So we’ve done our best to throw together some estimates. But take these time frames for what they are…ESTIMATES!

Kitchen remodels – An average kitchen remodel where the size remains generally the same will take between three and four months. If your kitchen remodel includes expanding the existing footprint of your home it will take much longer.

Bath remodels An average-sized hall bath cosmetic remodel can take as little time as 5-6 weeks. However, if you are contemplating remodeling and moving the location of the fixtures in a hall bath, it will increase the duration of the project. As will remodeling the master bathroom and grabbing a closet or part of another room to increase its size. For those we would estimate 2-4 months.