Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I've been thinking about whether it would be smart to seek out a designer for remodeling jobs. Currently, we are just skeching it out on paper with samples of materials to provide the look and feel. This isn't going to work much longer because we're getting more demanding customers who want a better visual of what their remodel will look like.

How do you guys prefer to handle this? I really don't have enough time to teach myself how to run design software because I'm busy on job sites and managing the business. Do you prefer some kind of arrangement with a designer on an as needed basis?

ANY suggestions/advice is appreciated. Thank you!
 

·
Livin the dream...
Joined
·
6,624 Posts
IMO the ability to design is one of the greatest assets you and your company have. It is one thing to do nice work, it is another to be able to execute AND design.

Hard to give you good advice not knowing your demographic or company.

Around here there isn't much of a market that is high end enough to warrant a designer. However, what does happen is people will go to contractors that they know have the creative knack and can take a bland space and make it into something.

I get jobs because people know I can think outside the box and come up with a good design. I know another contractor who gets tons and tons of work because people know he can come up with really beautiful and creative designs.

I hear you though on learning the software. Takes a lot of time...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
Currently I do all my own design work and in reality it's probably the part of the project I enjoy the most. I want to learn how to produce better drawings 3d real looking presentation drawings etc.

Because I enjoy the design phase I have thought about trying to eventually do that on a subcontract basis for other small contractors. I am not sure how much of a market there is though.

I will be interested to see if anyone is using independent designers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks, guys.

Yes, I too am interesting in seeing if anyone uses a designer.

I enjoy the design aspect, too, but the value for the customer in having it in a 3d computer design is what I'm thinking about. I feel that we need to be more 21st century with the presentation of the remodel.

I can conceptualize something but I don't know how to put it into software. I'm guessing that it takes quite a bit of time to not only learn the software but to plug it in and modify things to make it look good. I just don't expect to be able to learn this and do it all myself..
 

·
I'm The BOSS
Joined
·
1,904 Posts
I do my own design, most times.
I use Soft Plan.

Some of the more complicated kitchen remodels I'll do the structural drawing and have my kitchen cabinet supplier do the cabinet design.

The more we do , the more we learn.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,716 Posts
I'm in the same boat---I have used a member here on a fairly large job to design an addition---

However, most of my customers expect a design before the contract is signed--along with revisions----I think hiring that out might cost a lot----I really need to go to night school and learn a drawing program---

Or get a design fee so Andy can get paid!:laughing:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
403 Posts
I can conceptualize something but I don't know how to put it into software.
Then you don't need a designer

You need a intern/student/cad drafter to put your designs into the computer. One that can teach you along the way so you have working knowledge of how to do it as you pick up speed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,977 Posts
Good idea. Talk with a designer and come up with a system for presenting your designs to your clients that you're both comfortable with. A designer can give you ideas you haven't thought of and give you referrals too. I will use a designer if I think it fits. If it's a bathroom and the customer already has a good idea of what they want and they don't want to put a lot of money into it then I won't use a designer, the design will take five minutes sketched out on paper. If they are not sure what they want but want it to look nice then I will offer a design contract with the designers fee plus my fee which is usually about 7% of the total job cost.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,099 Posts
Then you don't need a designer?

You need a intern/student/cad person to put in the computer? Perhaps one that can teach you along the way so you have working knowledge of it as yu pick up speed.

Big difference no?
100 percent agree

Caveats - considerations to add.

Believe the OP is really specifically asking about visualization. Being able to accurately portray the "design" through software and digital media. Most interior designers, for example, I've been dealing with still use paper, pencil type sketches along with the physical samples. For two reasons. Time, its faster to sketch and two the digital media does not lend it's self to custom one 'of' presentations. Without a great deal of detailed and extensive skill sets within a piece of software. The applied/learned after learning "how to" in the software skill sets.

Don't get me wrong, 3D is great. In reality and practice very time consuming/costly on 80% of 'custom' remodels, even compared to hand drawn illustrated sketching. Realistic expectations need to be placed on this undertaking. A higher quality presentation does not come from software, it comes from wetware (operator/user-human being). For sure on the higher end jobs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
403 Posts
Just interviewed and hired a new architect two weeks ago for a simple 50x60 pole barn addition project. Architect explained he still draws everything by hand so he works with a drafter that uses a computer to prepare drawings when needed. When we met to go over my needs, they were both at the meeting. Plans have been completed and turned in to permitting.
 

·
I'm The BOSS
Joined
·
1,904 Posts
I believe that a program , like Soft plan would suit his needs.

I has enough design capabilities to allow a virtual tour and the design library
is huge. I'm still learning the new 2014 version which I recently upgraded
from the 1/2 version (SoftPlan lite)

SoftPlan also has online training, or personal train sessions along with
online tutorials. It is working for this kid.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
27,517 Posts
The only thing I draw are details of how I want things done, on graph paper. I am fortunate that my dad is a great designer, and likes it. His many years as a carpenter/builder and cabinet maker make his drawings very easy to build.

For a while, we were both running jobs/working on separate sites. I often met with clients and brought in an outside draftsman. It worked well, but not as good as we have it now.

As we got busier and the company as grown, I needed to go into the field full time, running production with my brother. I still do estimates, but rarely have time to write scopes or sell anymore.

He meets with the clients and goes over what they want done, and makes suggestions. He usually comes up with a good ball park estimate and makes sure this is within their expectations. If it is, we charge for a PSA and Design fees.

He meets with them and goes over how the space will be used, their lifestyle and needs, makes suggestions, and begins conceptual drawings. He uses Soft Plan. Once the concept is agreed upon, he draws the plans and elevations, including cabinets. Then he specs the fixtures and appliances with the client or uses allowances, bids the project, often we do the bids together, and writes a scope of work and prepares a contract.

Then makes the sale and passes it to me or my brother and our guys.

Pretty sweet setup, especially for me, lol.

I have no interest in being a designer, ever. I like meeting and selling, even coming up with conceptual drawings if I have to, but I always work with a designer. My brother shows interest and knack for it, so I think I will be set as we are partners, lol. I make up for my shortcomings as a designer by being the sole networker and bringing in most of the leads.

I know several builders who team with an architect or draftsman, and go through the whole process from day one. Kinda gets you in with the client I guess.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
96 Posts
For softplan..do you use the free trial version or the $2500 version..if you use the free trial, how is it and how long is it free for?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
242 Posts
Currently I do all my own design work and in reality it's probably the part of the project I enjoy the most. I want to learn how to produce better drawings 3d real looking presentation drawings etc.

Because I enjoy the design phase I have thought about trying to eventually do that on a subcontract basis for other small contractors. I am not sure how much of a market there is though.

I will be interested to see if anyone is using independent designers.
I would be interested in using a designer as a sub. Currently, I do all my own stunts and that doesn't leave enough time to spend with my kids let alone learning to be an effective user of software. My projects are typically smaller, but I just lost a nice bathroom remodel, I believe to a larger company and I'm sure they had nice drawings to submit with their estimate.
 

·
Designer/Contractor
Joined
·
4,739 Posts
We're living in a 3d world with easy access to all sorts of 3d technology. A while back I realized I needed to incorporate some sort of 3d presentation early in the process when my client's wife whipped out the printed 3d perspectives she'd made with her Walmart or Target or whatever 'Home Designer' software while I was showing them the premilinary 2d floor plans.

If you're inclined that way then it's something you might want to pursue, if not line up someone or a company to be your design and plan production part. Budget design development into the project. Don't spend a lot of time designing for free; when you do something for free people think that's what it's worth. Charging even a relatively small amount will tie people to you and also get rid of ones that are time wasters.

Also, just because you can use some sort of software or a pencil and paper for that matter, doesn't make you a designer.

P.S. For simple 3d concept models (and for much more complex and detailed ones as wall) Sketchup isn't bad.
 

·
I'm The BOSS
Joined
·
1,904 Posts
For softplan..do you use the free trial version or the $2500 version..if you use the free trial, how is it and how long is it free for?
I had the lite version for about 5-6 years

Just upgraded to full version 2014.

a little of a learning curve, do to so much more that can be drawn, and a lot of auto fill capabilities

the new version allows to draw in 3-d
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,744 Posts
Theres no way I would've gotten into visualization like this without going to Arch school. Honestly, you can get caught up in visualization. All you need is Sketchup and Artlantis or Sketchup and Podium. You don't need crazy quality to show people most projects. I think the photo realism would help in the real world when you are trying to sell/ upsell a really wild design.

The image shown is 100% sketch up and Photoshop.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,855 Posts
I tried using a designer once, but she apparently lacked the experience that my client was looking for.

I would like to form a relationship with a quality designer. I barely have time for the "office stuff" now, not to mention doing 3D renderings of possible projects.

I would think the designer needs a contractor just as much??
 

·
Designer/Contractor
Joined
·
4,739 Posts
I tried using a designer once, but she apparently lacked the experience that my client was looking for.

I would like to form a relationship with a quality designer. I barely have time for the "office stuff" now, not to mention doing 3D renderings of possible projects.

I would think the designer needs a contractor just as much??
Definitely can be a symbiotic relationship.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top