A Quarter Century of Advancements in Design/Build

As we celebrate twenty-six years of design/build experience, I thought I would reflect on the “good ole days”. I went from a three-man show to having a staff of more than 20. We currently employ 12 great people, and I can enjoy closer relationships with the clients we are working for. I went from taking a jobs where they presented themselves (the Cape) to bringing it closer to home building from Boston to Holliston and the all the towns in between. The biggest lesson I have learned after seeing so many companies that jumped on the construction band wagon and failed is that to make it in this business you have to be passionate about design and construction; and more important, sincerely care about the people you work with, and for. The last 26 years in business has been one of the great journeys of my life and want to thank everyone that ever hired our firm from a small deck to a major home undertaking… “These are the good ole days” – Thank you!

Ray in a bathtub on his first job in Sharon, MA, 1992
Q: What do you think has had the biggest impact on home renovations since you opened shop? A: The information and technology age has really changed everything. I started out meeting with clients who had a folder full of magazine clippings, then I took two to three Polaroid’s (they were $1 each!) of the “before”…and with that produced hand-drawn sketches. Then I went to the drawing board… literally, I had to draw plans with a drafting table and pencil… oh the revision fun! Today our clients share their inspiration photos with a click of the mouse, and we can take as many photos as we want of the “before” right from our phone. While we can get a really good sense of a client’s aesthetic from inspiration photos, we still rely on getting to know someone and the true objectives of their project. This is how we can offer them with a solution that remedies more than great looking finishes. Computer-aided design has probably been the thing that has benefited the consumer the most. It is much more effective to help folks understand what they are really getting before we start. Not everyone is visual and this is tool that makes the design come to life for the first time. Q: What changes have you witnessed in housing trends? A: If you look back to the early 90’s; the ageing housing stock and low availability of land meant that many people could get the home of their dreams by renovating a home. The most popular project we did in the 90’s was adding a family room. When that wasn’t enough, we started adding family rooms and also renovating the kitchen…. and then, what I like to call, “The Wellesley Special” – family room, kitchen and master suite. My real estate friends are telling me that today, first time buyers want it all done and that is either a symptom or the driver of a robust tear down trend we all can see right now. I often hear people say that they don’t want to put too much into their home because they feel like it will be purchased as a lot. My experience is that well-maintained homes more often find buyers who want a good house. I watched the birth of the McMansion as well as its demise…. Death by Boredom. People were taught that you bought by size, and if you couldn’t afford quality and quantity, then quantity wins. In 2008 the tiny house movement and the tag line “simplify” got some interest, but I believe this too is a waning idea. Over the last five years I have seen the desire for more space make a comeback; however, unlike the era of the McMansion- homeowners are opting for space, but not without quality.
renovation, family room addition
One of my first family room additions.
  Q: What has been a negative effect of bringing design to the people through media and the Internet? A: There is more bad information available than ever. To get your name out there everyone is encouraged to write a blog and have a presence on the internet as an authority and tastemaker. This makes the task of obtaining good information (also known as the facts) a process of having to do extra research, or rely on poor advice. Some sites are offering multiple articles a day, with topics created to steer advertising and product sales, and less to inform people with sound advice. Q: What has benefited consumers with information technology? A: Our clients come to the table more informed about everything. They know more about costs of renovation, the style everyone in the home agrees on or has compromised on (and that’s ok, guys!), and what their goals are for the renovation. They are able to be agile when we are in the design and budget phase because they already know the difference between the must haves and the nice to haves. This makes the experience for consumers easier to pursue, even with less free time.

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