Buyer’s Guide

Myers Constructs Buyer’s Guide

Myers Constructs, Inc., is a design to build™ firm known for creating noteworthy residential and commercial spaces through quality craftsmanship and unparalleled professionalism. We work hand-in-hand with you, the homeowner, to develop a detailed plan for your project. Our team of experts then promptly and efficiently handles your remodeling project from concept to completion, and beyond. Myers Constructs, Inc., delivers consistent results in the form of beautiful, long-lasting living solutions for a wide range of satisfied customers.

1.  What Is Design to Build™?
2.  Understanding Your Home’s Remodeling Needs
3.  Choosing the Right Remodeling Professional
4.  Determining a Budget
5.  Financing Your Project
6.  The Two Phases of a Typical Home-Improvement Project
7.  Top Customer Questions
8.  Resources for More Information

1.  What Is Design to Build™?

Generally speaking, design build is a model in which the design and construction phases of a renovation project are done in a streamlined fashion — often via the teaming of design and construction professionals to save time and money.

We use a different approach to this concept. We handle both design and construction in-house using a unique and efficient system developed over our many years in business. We call it design to build™ because we only design projects to build them. We don’t waste clients’ financial resources on the exploration of ideas that fall by the wayside. Rather, our system uses proprietary designing and budgeting tools to ensure that the design and construction phases of a project are developed with efficient precision and great style while remaining on budget.

2.  Understanding Your Home’s Remodeling Needs

Perhaps you are renovating one specific room within your home. Maybe you are in need of a whole-house makeover. Or it could be that you are unsure of exactly what projects are in order for your home, and you’re looking for some guidance. Regardless of the scope of your project, our team will help you understand exactly what you’d like to get out of your new space. We’ll work with you to make appropriate choices and decisions about your project, while sharing with you with knowledge we have gleaned from our decades of experience in the construction industry.

Don’t know where to begin? Take a look at the project images accessible via the WORK menu beneath the banner near the top of this page. See if any of these concepts match your needs. If so, please call us to discuss. Keep in mind that these are examples of projects we’ve done for current and former clients; we will need to learn about your home, budget and lifestyle needs to develop a customized design to build plan that works for you. Other Service Options to Consider:

     Whole-Home Planning

Your home is one of your biggest assets, and you should consult an expert about how to best manage that investment, in the same way you research and plan any other important financial investments. Not to be confused with planning additions, whole-home planning is about the practical financial analysis of your home. Questions we cover include:

  • How much did you pay for your house?
  • How long have you lived there?
  • What equity do you have in your home now, and what will it look like in the future?
  • Are you being confounded by low appraised value at present?
  • Do you want to sell? If so, when?
  • What can you afford to invest in your home to make it most enjoyable to live in now and easiest to sell at a later date?
  • When can you afford to do what?
  • What product and design decisions will be the best investment value for your home, both now and down the line?
  • How does your home compare to your neighbors’ homes? Is it missing something, like a powder room, master suite or family entertainment area, landscaping, etc.?

     Home-Energy Efficiency

Your home should be comfortable to live in and efficient to run. This means it should use the least amount of water and energy to achieve these goals. Don’t let anyone tell you that an older home can’t be efficient, or that just replacing windows will achieve your desired results. Neither of these statements is true.

To get real results, we provide a home-energy auditor to test your home’s efficiency. The auditor tests the performance of appliances and fixtures, as well as the overall house structure, to see where waste is occurring. The auditor then consults with us to develop the best, most cost-effective means of improving your home’s results. We tackle the simple, unglamorous stuff first and make plans to deal with the sexier items later. The lower energy and water use, which results in a cheaper-to-run home, is a particularly exciting result.

     Base-Line Maintenance

Every home requires annual, baseline maintenance. This includes everything from cleaning gutters and touching up varnish, painting and caulking, to power cleaning and oiling decks. We can also fix minor items like sticky door locks and broken screens. We identify and repair compromises in your home’s exterior to keep it in good order and prevent water from sneaking in. Keep in mind that these mini projects will have your home’s parts working better, looking cleaner and ready for full enjoyment year round.

3.  Choosing the Right Remodeling Professional

When shopping for a contractor, it is vital that you find someone with experience and credentials whom you can trust and who makes you feel comfortable with the entire process, from start to finish. To that end, look for professionals who:

  • Have established businesses with proven track records and customers to contact for referrals
  • Return phone calls and show up for scheduled appointments
  • Use professional marketing materials, estimates, contracts and bills
  • Carry insurance, including auto, health, workers’ compensation, general liability
  • Provide competitive pricing; in this industry, you truly get what you pay for
  • Have established business practices and protocols that don’t vary by customer
  • Don’t accept cash/under-the-table payments
  • Obtain the proper permits for projects
  • Have an office and employees rather than just subcontractors and/or illegal employees who are paid in cash
  • Do not let the homeowner “help” on the job to reduce the project price
  • Have their Lead-Safe/RRP certification from the EPA, as well as any other necessary safety certifications
  • Are members of professional organizations, such as NARI, ACG, NAHB, the Better Business Bureau and their local Chambers of Commerce.

Please note: In Pennsylvania, all contractors must be registered with the Commonwealth. Check the Attorney General’s website to see if your contractor is on the list.

4.  Determining a Budget

Your remodeling budget should be based on a combination of what you can afford to spend or borrow and the going rate for the type of project that you’re considering. By combining these factors, you can come up with a workable budget for your remodeling project, and then adjust your choices accordingly.

Have a sense of a reasonable budget before you contact a prospective contractor — and keep in mind that products and services often cost more than homeowners expect them to. Typically, with Philadelphia-area housing stock, funds will be needed not merely for finishes and shiny new appliances; the hidden systems like framing, plumbing and electricity will also need to be brought up to code.

5.  Financing Your Project

If you plan to finance your project, either through the use of a home-equity loan, a revolving line of credit, or credit cards, carefully consider the following questions.

  • How long is this project expected to take?
  • What is the total price of the project?
  • Can I self-fund a portion of the cost?
  • When will payments need to be made in full?
  • Will we need any follow-up work done?

With these answers in hand, speak with a banker and/or a mortgage broker to understand whether your home’s increased value might be a financing source before or after remodeling. For example, you might first use your home’s increased market value since its purchase to secure a credit line and cover project costs. Then, you might refinance based on the value increase due to the project and use the refinancing proceeds to pay off the credit line.

Be sure to clearly understand all of your options before choosing a financing method.

6.  The Two Phases of a Typical Home-Improvement Project

     Design/Planning Phase

This is an often overlooked, but very important, phase of any home renovation or repair project. Even if your project is as simple as hanging a door or painting a room, you need to start with a plan if you want to stay focused, do a good job, and get the project done.

With complicated projects like kitchens and baths, this step is even more important. On many home shows, you’ll see designers and developers jump into a project with nothing more than a cabinet layout. They might walk around and talk about where they think they want some lights, doors and windows to go, but that’s not a plan. It won’t tell the electrician or plumbers or carpenters where specific elements are supposed to go, what is staying, and what is being demolished. Using that approach, you won’t even know what the project is going to cost.

Without a complete set of plans, you also can’t get a construction permit, which means your project may be worth less when you sell or refinance. Without a complete set of drawings, mistakes will be made, and you may end up paying even more to correct the errors made.

It typically takes a few weeks to plan one of our bathrooms or kitchens. This factors in time to work with the clients to create a layout and select products. Given carte blanche, our designer can reduce this time significantly, but few clients want to be left out of the planning phase.

     Construction Phase

This stage consists of the following steps:

  • Set up/Start/Scheduling/Orders/Permits – For most of our projects, this phase takes 2-3 weeks and most of the work takes place in the office. We create the project books that fully specify the project – a process that takes 40+ hours to complete, on average.
  • Protection/Demolition – Often, we will be on the job site while step one is underway. We protect work areas with plastic walls, cover floors with paper under plywood, get a dumpster on site, and collect needed materials and tools. No one likes the demolition phase. It’s stressful and messy.
  • Rough Framing – Once everything is demolished and cleaned out, we start building the project.
  • Inspections – Often, the inspectors will want to see what framing has been done, especially structural framing work, whether it’s wooden or steel.
  • Rough Ins – Once the framing is in, all of the pipes, ducts and wires get run. This can take a bit of time since so many specialists will be working in the same space. Everyone is jockeying for space and time to get their runs in first. If one pro is late, then the rest may be inconvenienced. Sometimes subcontractors will come in on a weekend in order to remain on schedule. This helps a lot with time management.
  • Inspections – During this period, the various subs have their own inspectors come in, followed by the city/township inspector, who confirms that everything has been done properly. This can easily take a whole week, particularly during busy seasons. After the job is inspected and approved, we close up the walls. Never skip permits. This will mean your project isn’t done to code; therefore, it may not be safe or worth what you paid for it.
  • Insulation/Air Sealing – We install these items after inspection so inspectors can easily view the rough-in work. In some districts, insulation has its own inspection phase.
  • Closing Walls (Drywall Install and Finishing) – Many homeowners get very excited during this phase of their project because they can see how things will look when complete. Unfortunately, this is also usually the dustiest and most frustrating time for the homeowners. They usually feel like things are “slowing down” after this phase.
  • Finishes (Tile/Paint/Flooring) – These sections of work make homeowners happy. They also take time to do properly. Sometimes all of the subs involved in this phase are working at the same time and their work overlaps. That’s because they all want to do a good job, and time is money.
  • Cabinets/Millwork/Doors/Windows – This is another happy time for customers. Typically, kitchen components take about a week to install, including cabinet trims. It’s very fussy work and not a good time for homeowners to observe since the crew really needs to concentrate on the details.
  • Counters – We typically bring the stone people in to template the counters as soon as base cabinets are installed. Usual turnaround time for stone is 2-3 weeks. Customers get anxious during this time because they want to see their finished room and don’t understand why this phase takes that long. Understand that these pros need to make precision cuts in hundreds of pounds of expensive stone slabs, then polish, deliver and install it.
  • Trim Out (Plumbing and Electrical Fixtures) – At this point, the HVAC professionals, electricians and plumbers return to install their fixtures and plates. We insist that they have clean hands when doing so. Once these things are in, your room is functional but not yet move-in ready.
  • Substantial Functionality – By now, your space is working as intended, but we still need to finish some small touchups or details, like knobs. This is also the period in which we collect a check for most of the balance of a project.
  • Punch List Meeting – This is the meeting where homeowners and the project manager meet to agree on what remains to be finished. We like to schedule these meetings two weeks before the project is done, if possible, and we ask homeowners to sign the agreed upon list. Then, we promptly close out that list, and leave the homeowners with a completed project to enjoy.
  • Touchups (Clean/Move Out) – Finally, we handle all touchups and cleaning that need to be done. If we are not painting, we broom-sweep out the home. If we are painting, we wash floors and polish fixtures as we paint. Then we pack up our stuff, collect final payment, and move out. Any dumpsters or portable bathroom facilities in place are removed. We assure anxious homeowners that we are only a telephone call away, but we usually call in a couple of weeks to check on things and make sure there are no questions. Our customers appreciate this courtesy.

7.  Top Customer Questions

Because we know that the realm of home renovation can be an enigma to many first-time buyers, we decided there would be value in sharing the most common questions asked by our customers — as well as our responses. Feel free to contact us with your questions. We’ll do our best to answer each one personally.

     Do you do “X” type of job?

Kitchens, bathrooms and whole-house planning and renovation are our sweet spots, but we also take on addition projects, spec remodels and even smaller projects like energy-efficiency retrofits, repairs and maintenance projects. Our company depends on a nice mix of project types and sizes, as our customers all need more than glamorous, big, once-in-a-lifetime additions, kitchens and baths.

     What will this cost?

Our company has built its reputation on quality, long-lasting design. We avoid quick fixes and fads that are cheaper to execute in the short run, but that won’t last long and don’t add value to a home. That being said, each project is unique and needs to be priced individually based on the size and scope of the renovations required.

We publish general cost information for projects like kitchens and bathrooms on our website. We also offer projects to answer the needs of callers whose homes require total gut projects on limited budgets. We put these great packages together to provide a high quality Myers Constructs project at the best price. There are also less expensive “makeover” type projects for bathrooms and kitchens that we’ll discuss in person with individual customers. Callers should keep in mind that the biggest costs in kitchens and baths is not the fixtures and cabinets, as shown in the chart below.

     Why does it cost that much?

As a licensed and fully insured company and a member of professional organizations like NARI, our construction standards will meet or exceed code whenever possible. We hire only licensed and insured subcontractors and employees who are RRP/EPA lead safe certified and work to high standards of cleanliness because this protects our workers and our customers’ families. Furthermore, our business practices are professional: we have a real office with skilled staff and professional equipment that enables us to run our projects effectively. Our standards must be maintained in order to do the best job for our customers, so we are not the lowest cost provider.

     When can I schedule an appointment?

Typically, each project begins with a telephone interview. During the call, we determine whether the project is a fit for our company. Once we establish this and get all of the basic information, like address, building and project type, contact and budget info, we can usually get an initial site visit scheduled in less than two weeks (depending on the caller’s availability). We do not work evenings or weekends, so customers need to make time during business hours to meet. We see this as a good indicator of how important the project is to the prospective customer.

8.  Resources for More Information

For more information, please see our FAQ page and the section of our website entitled How We Work.