Some remodelers specialize in basements, others in historic renovations. John Happel of H & H Builders specializes not in any particular flavor of remodel but in a specific type of remodel client.

"Our specialty is the kind of client that we serve," said Happel, who runs H & H with his wife and partner, Dilsha. "We do best with busy professionals who want a one-stop shopping solution to their remodeling project."


For Happel, the advantages to design-build are clear.

"With the typical client, we can save 30 to 40 percent on their design costs over an architect," said Happel. But design-build, which now accounts for about half of H & H business, offers more than just cost-savings, Happel said.

"The primary advantage of designbuild is that our clients find out early on – very quickly – if they can afford the project they have in mind," he said.

Eliminating the guesswork about pricing is important, Happel said. While architects and designers can provide rough estimates, H & H brings the builder's perspective to provide a clearer picture of a project's budget.

"They will know that we can build the project for the price that we give them," he said. In fact, H & H has so much experience in pricing, it can often provide ballpark figures after a simple phone interview, Happel said.
"On most projects, we can give people an estimate after the initial phone interview," he said. "While we can't be exact, we can certainly tell them this is a $100,000 job, not a $50,000 job."

H & H can also use its building expertise to find the right match between budget and design. "Our designs are really aimed at meeting a budget," Happel said. "The client has much more control over the final costs."
 

Another advantage to the H & H design- build system: "Clients can decide early on in the process if they like us," Happel said.
"Remember, they're going to married to their contractor for months," he added. "When you are that intimately tied to someone, you need to have a good relationship." During the initial design, Happel said it is easy to tell if there is the "right fit" between client and contractor. If not, then little up-front money has been spent, and it is much easier to part ways.
 
In the past year, Happel said he has bid goodbye twice in the initial design phase, when it became clear that the match simply wasn't there. Although parting means losing a job, Happel said it sometimes is necessary, and avoid unneeded headaches on both sides.
 
"We try to treat people fairly about who we are and what we can do," he said. "I think most people come away from that feeling we've treated them well and right."

H & H has been providing the right treatment since 1996. The company employs 10 people and last year completed 13 major (greater than $30,000) projects. Through 2002, H & H continues to grow, and is on track for 20 major projects this year. The design skills of H & H had a thorough workout on two recent projects.
 
 
The second project led to a first place award for interior finish from the 2002 Council of Professional Remodelers CARE awards. The project, a combination basement finish and kitchen/bath remodel for an Arvada two-story, was the perfect combination of client wishes and contractor experience, said Happel. "The clients had a real good eye for color," he said. "They really acted as their own interior designers for the project."