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Designing Your Way to Your Dream Kitchen or Bath: An Interview with JA Gallagher Builders, Inc.

By Kristen Bosse

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Our showroom, Attleboro Kitchen and Bath, is a full-service retail center that provides top-notch product in addition to design and installation services. We are kitchen and bath specialists and we also offer full general contracting services for any home improvement project.

How did you get into this line of work?

I have been a General Contractor for over 35 years. Several years ago while looking ahead to my future and the future of home renovations, I set five and ten year plans in place. My five year plan - opening a retail outlet to showcase a variety of quality products and staffing it with capable designers - came to fruition when the ideal location opened up three years ago. Now Attleboro Kitchen and Bath is a full brick and mortar establishment supported by our original custom carpentry shop and warehouse.

What key qualities should a homeowner be looking for in a good residential contracting business?

There are several small qualities that can play a big part in a successful renovation ? cleanliness, timeliness and being thorough. This can start with a complete scope of work typed out for both homeowner and contractor to refer back to. During the job, how a contactor leaves the job site each day is important, as well. A homeowner should not have to clean up after a crew. At the end of a job, there are usually "punch list items" that need finishing ? the contractor should respond to these in a timely fashion. Professionalism is also key element in looking for a dependable contractor. Those with a brick and mortar establishment are more likely to have a business process in place as well as a solid presence in the community.

Do you offer design services to help your customers choose the perfect countertops, accessories, and more?

Yes, we do. We display several cabinet lines as well as tile, hardware, plumbing fixtures, lighting several countertop options and working cabinet accessories. This allows the customer to enjoy one-stop-shopping. Instead of carrying samples from store to store, our customers can "assemble" the items and finishes all together right in our showroom.

Whether it's the cabinets, countertops, floor, etc, what should homeowners be looking for to see if they need an area replaced?

Obvious damage and safety issues should stand out for a homeowner right away. Other items might just be annoying things they have learned to "live with" ? sticky glides on drawers, loose door fronts, broken floor tiles, burn marks on laminate countertops, dark corners of work areas, wobbly toilets, etc. When we visit their homes, we often point out these annoyances that the homeowners work around every day. By the end of the renovation, grateful for a kitchen or bath that works smoothly, they often say, "Why didn't I do this earlier!"

What is the most popular service you offer? Would you consider this one of your specialties?

Out most important service is the design service. During this process, it is not just a mixing of finishes and colors, but also an education on product, process and value. This way our clients can make choices with confidence.

Are there any common mistakes new homeowners make when dealing with a remodeling business on their home?

The most common "hindsight is 20-20" mistake we see is when a client comes in to say they did a partial update to their kitchen two or three years ago but now it needs a full renovation. Most often it is homeowners who have replaced laminate countertops with granite countertops but left the old cabinetry in place. While this will give you a new look, more often than not, the cabinets will look very dated and tired once the new granite goes in. Another common mistake is changing out a tile floor but not installing new subflooring. Proper subflooring will support the tile, preventing cracking in the future.

How much can kitchen remodeling or proper carpentry work potentially increase the value of a home?

A typical kitchen remodel in our area will realize about 68-74% of the cost in a resale. Homeowners should be careful not to "over improve" or "over personalize" for their neighborhood which might reduce that percentage.

What is the most difficult project you offer?

Sometimes the most difficult projects are those that happen in the smallest room in the home ? the bathroom. With space usually at a premium, any error can be very apparent. Numerous finishes, mechanicals and products also require a lot of footwork prior to the project. We do a lot of tiled walk-in showers with benches, niches and custom sizing. Since tile is linear in nature, the attention to detail is of the utmost importance.

Do you have a personal favorite project you like working on?

Renovating an older home's space into a contemporary, open, functional space is very rewarding.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

Our websites have our email addresses as well as our phone number 508-226-2284. Homeowners can also visit the showroom at 1 Park Street in Attleboro, MA. I also do free in-home consultations.

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