I love design awards and spend a lot of time looking at winning projects. It’s a great way to spot new trends and find content for our Instagram feed.
But while I enjoy scoping out the best work, I often come away annoyed by the same thing. Most design award programs are entered by architectural firms who list themselves and the interior designer as winners. The remodeler rarely gets a mention.
That might be OK, except often the success of these projects are somewhat dependent on the skill of an underappreciated tradesperson. I saw one recently—a to-the-studs remodel in Austin—where the architects wanted an amazing entryway. Their vision was to panel the walls and stairs in ash cut to various lengths. Each piece was a study in subtle contrasts of color and shape, and to make the effect work, someone had to carefully plan where each plank would go. The job required spatial abilities, a strong sense of design, and carpentry skill. Do it right, and the entry looks fantastic. Handle it incorrectly, and the whole project is weakened. Yet, the contractor didn’t get so much as a mention in the award or the long write up that the project received from a leading home design publication.
Our culture doesn’t value remodelers enough. This issue is part of why so many people would never question a doctor or attorney about their pricing, yet feel it’s perfectly OK to grill remodelers.
That’s just one example out of literally hundreds that I’ve seen. So why are remodelers habitually overlooked when it comes time to dole out kudos for a job well done? There’s a number of reasons.
Remodelers don’t enter design awards. Or at least not as often as architects and interior designers do. This leaves the decision of who to credit up to the individual firm entering the program.
Remodelers’ contributions are often dismissed. Design professionals often overlook how much a remodeler can influence the vision of a project. Homeowners generally don’t realize it either. I’ve been on jobsites where an architect gives detailed instructions on how they want a particular material installed, but more often than not, it’s left up to the contractor. I’ve also heard contractors patiently explain to architects why a certain aspect of their plan won’t work in real life, and then suggest alterations, sometimes meaningful ones.
Our culture doesn’t value remodelers enough. This issue is part of why so many people would never question a doctor or attorney about their pricing, yet feel it’s perfectly OK to grill remodelers. It also factors into the labor shortage.
If you are a remodeler who works with architects, insist that you are given credit in any awards program they enter. Not only could this help your lead flow, it also helps the entire industry. Showcasing contractors as important contributers to the success of a project elevates the profession to its rightful place.
Finally, if you’re a design/build company, be sure to enter awards programs whether they’re industry specific or consumer facing. It’s a great way to market your work and boost company morale.