Editorial: Success by design

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Great design is about more than good looks; it's also about problem-solving, quality and creativity. That's brought home to me every time we judge our Best of the Best Design Awards.

December 01, 2009

 


The best companies are getting creative, finding ways to separate themselves from the competition.

Great design is about more than good looks; it's also about problem-solving, quality and creativity. That's brought home to me every time we judge our Best of the Best Design Awards.

This month we bring you the results of our Best of the Best awards as part of our Annual Design Issue. Not surprisingly, this year's competition reflected the realities of today's remodeling market.

Green remodeling — especially energy efficiency — has been dominating the remodeling conversation this year, and nearly every award winner chosen by our judges incorporated sustainable features. The Project of the Year, by Marrokal Design & Remodeling in San Diego, is a perfect example of how creative design can be sustainable. While the homeowners certainly wanted the home to reflect their personal style, they also came into the project with defined green goals, a trait we found in many of the homeowners of this year's winning projects.

(Besides our coverage of the Best of the Best here in print, be sure to check out HousingZone.com for video interviews with the judges, photo slideshows of all of the winners and more.)

We also noticed a marked decline in average project size. Our Project of the Year not withstanding, the multi-million dollar luxury jobs of years past have been replaced with smaller, less expensive kitchens and bathrooms.

It's a big change, but a good one for the long-term health of the industry. An industry built on more reasonable jobs is by its very nature more sustainable and stable than one resting on big-ticket projects.

There's little doubt we're facing a challenge today that few if any of us have been through before. This year was the most tumultuous year most us have experienced in the remodeling industry. With a housing crisis and high unemployment that show little indication of ending anytime soon, 2010 appears challenging as well.

It's also a time of opportunity. The best companies are getting creative, finding ways to separate themselves from the competition or capitalizing on alternative sources of revenue to survive in this environment. Whether it's with winning design or investing in rental properties, smart firms are finding ways to make it in this new reality (read Jud Motsenbocker's conversation about rental properties in this month's Remodelers' Exchange on page 7).

For some remodelers it's energy audits, for others it's ramping up warranty work or handyman divisions. The answer's different for every company, but it's out there. And in the end, that's what really matters — finding the way that makes sense for you to separate yourself from the competition. And here at Professional Remodeler, we'll keep looking for and sharing the ways the best companies are preparing for the turnaround.

Contact me at jonathan.sweet@reedbusiness.com or 630/288-8170, or follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/sweetedit.

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