Choosing the Right Design/Build Firm: An Interview with Robert Reed of Robert Reed Associates

Robert Reed Associates, Inc. was established in 1994 in York Harbor, Maine. We are a full service residential design/build firm with extensive experience in designing and overseeing residential renovation and new construction projects. I have been in the residential design/build business for thirty five years completing new construction and renovation projects from the North Shore of Massachusetts to Southern Maine.

What are some of the services your company provides?

Architectural design
General contracting
Land development
Project consulting
Property oversight

In your opinion, what are some qualities that every design and build company should possess?

(a) Listening Skills: A designer/builder needs to be a great listener, with the ability to organize and translate their client's ideas and project scope with graphics and focused discussion.

(b) Financial responsibility: The ability to balance all ideas and project vision within the confines of a project budget.

(c) Experience: They must have experience in all aspects of project systems and product selection.

(d) Openness: There needs to be complete openness and honesty between designer/builder and clients. We provide monthly expenditure spreadsheets for our clients describing all that is spent for the month and how it relates to the overall project budget. Projects have so many moving parts and there are times when things do not go as planned. Problem resolution needs to involve everyone in an open and honest way. If someone tells you there were no issues on their project, it was because they were not included in the solution.

If you could describe your ideal client/home designer relationship, what would it be and why?

Our projects are successful as a direct result of the great relationships we have with our clients. Our clients trust us and our ability to put their interests first. Our clients are very involved in their projects and make themselves available when needed for design meetings or site visits. They are responsive to scheduling and product selections. They are flexible when unexpected issues arise and willing to work together for a solution. Their dedication to the project allows us to focus on managing the project and keeping it on schedule. We expect to be asked a lot of questions and the ability to communicate in a timely manner is also a priority. We try to make the process fun and really enjoy each other's company.

As a design and build firm, how do you make sure you're understanding of what your client wants?

Our client are asked to organize their thoughts and ideas in a medium that best expresses their design ideas. They use photographs, clippings, drawings, lists and the internet before our first design meeting. They start to develop a program of what they would like to include in the house, where on the property they would like to site the house and the relationships of these spaces to one another. During our first meeting we then have a footprint of ideas as we start the design discussion. Listening to the clients at this stage is paramount. We listen to their ideas in a focused discussion and then prioritize and organize their information to allow us to start the preliminary design.

What are some questions every homeowner should ask their home designer before hiring them?

What is their architectural style and background?
Have they ever had hands-on experience in building a house and know how one goes together?
How successful are they at providing accurate estimates of the projects they design?
What is their involvement in the project after it's designed?
What is their responsibility to the client if the project they design cannot be completed within the client's budget? Who is responsible for the additional work expense?
Provide three references from a similar project. Talk to all three.

What is your philosophy behind creating dynamic, yet practical homes for your clients?

Residential design is a balance between great ideas and budget. There is a misconception that well thought out residential design is automatically more expensive and not cost effective. The reality is the importance of proportion, scale and proper siting of the project can make or break its overall design presence. The success of our projects is a direct result of our ability to bring our client's ideas to life. Working closely together makes this outcome possible.

What are some minor building renovations that can really improve the appearance of my home?

Refinishing wood floors, or replacing carpet or tile
Painting the interior and/or the exterior
Create a front entry
Paint kitchen cabinets, replace countertops

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

Robert Reed, President
Robert Reed Associates, Inc
PO Box 1042
York Harbor, ME 03911
Office: 207 363-8568
Cell: 207 337-3456

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