1. What is the first step in designing a kitchen or bathroom with Euro-Plus Design, Inc.?
The process starts by calling to schedule a visit to your home with one of Euro-Plus Design’s accredited designers. Preferably, all decision-makers will attend this meeting to make sure we are provided a full perspective of your project goals. During this first meeting, plan to talk about the project and its challenges for a minimum of 1 hour and possibly as long as 2 hours or more, if necessary, at your option.
You will show us the kitchen or bathroom and your home and tell us about practical day-to-day challenges in terms of how you live in your home. We will ask what dreams you have for the kitchen or bath that will make you happier, and allow you to live more comfortably and more productively.
Our designer will discuss some options for the space in a very generic and conceptual way that will illustrate how Euro-Plus Design, Inc. manipulates space “to change the way you live.” Several of our completed projects and photographs of them will be presented to you to help you to see how space can be transformed for specific life-styles and families.
2. When I decide to hire Euro-Plus Design, Inc., how does the design process work?
During that first meeting, the scope of Euro-Plus Design, Inc. services will be detailed and you will be provided copies of our agreements for review. With an understanding of the project, your investment in our services will be determined based upon our Flat Fee Design Schedule, which is detailed below in Answer #3.
Once retained, our designer, or team of designers, will measure your home, both the rooms being designed and adjoining rooms, take digital photos for reference, and take note of construction details in your home that may impact the final designs. You will prepare a survey, or two, to prompt and document all considerations for the project. This will include your design and style preferences, your likes and dislikes with the current space, your anticipated budget for the project, and anything else that you want to present to us for reference, from books, to pictures to product samples.
The initial designs will be prepared in a generic but accurate manner. Every plan that is presented to you will work for your space. Each design could be finalized and documented for construction if that design were to be chosen by you. Designs that “look great” but “don’t work,” within National Kitchen and Bathroom Association Design Standards, or designs that will not address your specific concerns, even if they appear to, may be presented to you but will be strongly discouraged.
Euro-Plus Design, Inc. takes great pride in exhausting all efforts to deliver functional living space that will provide decades of enjoyment.
You will provide feedback and questions to us on all designs, and we will work with you so that you fully understand the viable options. We will prepare revised plans to accommodate all of your preferences, where ever possible, into the final plans.
Once a final plan is agreed upon your drawings are completed and become part of your design package. These drawings may include an existing floor plan, a wall plan, a cabinet plan, a lighting plan, elevations, and identification of areas that will be prepared in a unique way (e.g. a tiled wall versus a sound-reducing wall). This design package will be sufficient for Euro-Plus Design, a qualified contractor, or materials supplier to assist with the selection of your finish materials and the estimating of the construction investment for your project.
State Licensed or Registered Professionals may be required to complete your drawing package. These services are arranged for you at additional expense and you will receive an estimated cost of these services in advance.
3. When I hire Euro-Plus Design, Inc. to handle the project design, how much will I be investing in your services?
Having independently designed kitchens and bathrooms since 1990, Euro-Plus Design provides design services on a flat fee basis. The first room designed requires an investment of $3,950.00. Design for each additional room costs $1,000.00.
Recognizing that a kitchen today often includes the family room, and a master bathroom design often evolves into a master suite, these additional areas may need to be reflected in the plans as the space may impact the functionality of the primary room. Only if the adjoining room has detailed or technical aspects to the design are these considered an additional room design. As an example, a complex entertainment center designed as part of the kitchen project may require an additional design expense, depending upon the level of detail required to accommodate some of today’s sophisticated home theatre systems and the requisite storage. Our multiple room design program provides a great savings opportunity, if for instance, you know at a later date that you may want to redesign your master bathroom but today’s project is the kitchen!
Our policy is to notify our clients whenever possible, prior to performing design services.
Through a thorough and thoughtful design process, we are able to deliver the most desirable design solution to each and every project. This is how Euro-Plus Design has changed the way our clients live, for the better, and why we have been respected innovators and leaders in the industry since 1990. We welcome the opportunity to bring you the very best in design services – design that will change the way you live.
4. Tell me why I should hire Euro-Plus Design, Inc. to design my kitchen or bathroom instead of a showroom with designers, especially since they design for free?
Great question! Honest.
Showrooms are in the business of selling products. Functional design is not simply placing cabinets in a room or striving to make sure that trendy products appear in your plan just to give your room a new and updated look. Functional design requires a more deliberate approach to understand the challenges that you face in your home, and to research options for improving the overall space to deliver more storage, counter area, light, enhanced appliances and seating while simultaneously avoiding poor traffic flow, excessive handling and difficult daily maintenance. Well before Euro-Plus Design even explores or recommends specific products or product lines, functional design is our total focus.
If you go to work each day you get paid for your work, right? If you are doing design work for free, then where does the money come from to pay you each week? There is no free lunch, unless we have been misled our entire lives, (and if that is the case we want to hear about it.)
In a showroom ten people may walk through each day and maybe two of them will take advantage of the free lunch, we meant free design. Sorry. Some quick math would say that not only are those two people somehow going to pay for their free design but they are also going to pay for a share of the costs the showroom incurred to talk to the other eight people who walked through. Free design costs are built into the final cost of the products that the showroom NEEDS to sell to you to keep the lights on.
How many different free designs do you think the showroom designers will want to investigate with you to perfect the plan that will change the way you live for the better? The showroom’s objective is to sell product, quickly. Euro-Plus Design wants to slow down the process, with you, and make sure that expensive decisions are made with your interests in mind.
The investment you make with Euro-Plus Design is fair compensation for the time and expert advice delivered on your behalf without any additional expenses of serving our other clients. Everybody pays their own way which we as consumers and designers consider a fair and reasonable approach.
5. Should I speak with an Architect, Interior Designer or Builder to develop an idea of the space before speaking to Euro-Plus Design, Inc.?
Euro-Plus Design’s principal and President, Steven M. Levine, CMKBD is a Certified Master Kitchen and Bathroom Designer. This is an earned industry certification through the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the NKBA. Steven is also a licensed builder in Massachusetts for the past 25 years.
Euro-Plus staff member, Susan Brisk, CKD, ASID is a Certified Kitchen Designer, and a National Council on Interior Design Qualified accredited Interior Designer. Susan has been active in the NKBA local chapter, and was instrumental in bringing the NKBA College Educational program to the Boston Architectural College where she has been teaching part-time since 2000. She has been an integral part of the Euro-Plus Design team since 1990. Both Steven and Susan will be “hands on” in delivering the optimal design solution and quality to your project.
Anna Mahan, AKBD, is an Associate Kitchen and Bathroom Designer who is a college degreed Interior Designer. Anna has been working with Euro-Plus Design since she completed her Interior Design studies, during which time she won First Place in the NKBA National Design Competition for students. Her teacher at the time was Susan Brisk who appreciated Anna’s visualization abilities and intuitive manner of working with color and texture in her projects and who encouraged hiring Anna as soon as she was able to join our team. Anna is also teaching part-time at the Boston Architectural College.
And now for the second half of your question. Euro-Plus Design encourages you to speak to any and all competent sources qualified to address the challenges in your home, but in most instances it makes sense to do so after Euro-Plus Design provides you with the most functional design solution. Our design staff is expert in our area of residential design, the functional design of kitchens and bathrooms and the living areas that surround these rooms. In other words, our staff is able to help you design or redesign the space within the existing footprint of your house. In addition, our designers are able to help explore the shape and function of living space beyond the existing footprint.
When a design extends the footprint, say to add a family room to a kitchen design, other design professionals such as an Architect or Structural Engineer, may be consulted to abide by local or state regulations for the design of these areas, or to provide definitive calculations for structure, siting, conservation or wetlands compliance. All of these services would be at an additional expense, but the time that these consultants would be billing for would be minimized because the overall space plan and the functionality of the living area had already been defined by Euro-Plus Design.
Architects and Interior Designers are also skilled in the design of kitchens and bathrooms, and nobody has ever been documented as having starved to death because the kitchen design was not maximized for functionality and livability. The difference is that Euro-Plus Design, Inc. has been designing highly functional residential kitchens and bathrooms exclusively since 1990, and the team has experience dating back to 1980. You would not ask your General Practitioner in the doctor’s office to perform your open heart surgery. Although the best Architects and the best Interior Designers have designed kitchens and bathrooms they are not as experienced or expert as designers that do this work exclusively everyday. Euro-Plus Design’s designers are your home heart surgeons, and we make house-calls.
Without first working through Euro-Plus Design’s process to develop a Plan, the builders, other design professional and suppliers would each offer their own, potentially biased or ill-informed, opinion of what you should build or buy, adding confusion and anxiety to an already stressful process. When you are armed with a completed design locating walls, windows, doors, lighting, appliances, and bath fixtures, for example, you are able to intelligently discuss the construction or renovation of areas of your home with designers, builders and materials suppliers. Investing time and money with Euro-Plus Design to develop your plan provides a standard for everyone to follow; the old apples-for-apples philosophy.
6. After we have chosen a final design, how may I continue to work with Euro-Plus Design to identify quality products to integrate with the design?
It is only after the plan has been developed that our clients ask for help navigating through product offerings. With a completed generic plan that has been thoughtfully created through many iterations of design, Euro-Plus Design will take you shopping. Visiting our network of respected distributors, retailers, and fabricators, our designers help you to choose products that will complement the objectives of the plan both in terms of function and style. From the beginning the plan was to be functional, specified for quality, detailed for proper installation, and stylized for comfort and long term enjoyment. By shopping with you our designers help you to steer-clear of product promotions that may benefit the salesperson more than the client, and make sure that all product choices will work within the plan as it has been designed.
The products chosen will be itemized and the price and required quantity for each item will be detailed on a written estimate. You should not be able to purchase these identical materials at a lower price, and Euro-Plus Design will be there to guide you all the way, from selection, to purchase, to delivery and through installation. Any questions will be addressed and Euro-Plus Design is your advocate with manufacturers if issues arise.
Our fee for Facilitating the product selection and purchase with you is 15% of the total of your purchases, an amount that should be offset by the savings found by ordering through Euro-Plus Design, Inc. instead of buying at everyday retailer prices.
When materials are ordered the vendor will specify that they need a deposit to place the order. The deposit will typically be 50% of the estimated price, although for some custom materials the deposit may be 100%. Euro-Plus Design will invoice you for the deposit and then for the balance upon delivery, including any additional freight charges and/or applicable sales tax. A second invoice will be issued reflecting Euro-Plus Design, Inc.’s Facilitation Fee of 15% of the full amount of the two invoices.
Product selection through approved sources, an understanding of the product and its suitability to execute the design, a responsible party determining quantities and placing orders, delivery co-ordination and resolution of product issues with the vendors and/or manufacturers, all for 15%. Why would you want to do this yourself?
There are many ironies in the kitchen and bathroom industry. One is that the exact product that you want may be shown by many companies but it may be labeled differently, such as a square raised panel door that is called just that in one showroom but another calls the door a "Presidential" series door. To make matters worse, even the people selling the product may not know the intricacies of how the product is actually made, which means that two identical looking items may not be identical at all!!
Let’s face the facts. To pay the bills showrooms sell what they have to offer, which is easy to understand when we stop and think about it. Euro-Plus Design did stop and think about it back in 1990 and what we determined was that the products are not what are important when developing functional solutions for our client’s challenges. What is most important is the plan. Euro-Plus Design focuses on the plan and how the space will serve our clients lifestyle. Only then can we select and specify product that best serves our client’s needs and preferences.
7. Who works with the builder to estimate the cost of the project and to make sure that what has been designed is what gets built?
Another great question. The answer is everybody works with the builder to develop a fair and reasonable estimated cost.
Fair and reasonable. At the end of your project you should be able to stand back and look at your project, with an understanding of everything involved in completing it, and feel that you were treated properly throughout the process. This is a team effort and the team includes you, Euro-Plus Design, vendors, tradespeople, and prospectively professionals in architecture, structural engineering, surveying and landscape design and we all have the same goal to strive for. The “team” wants to design, refine, specify and build what you want because the “team” benefits from reaching the goal.
There are many answers to most questions and there are pros and cons to almost every answer. Being philosophical this is called life. The estimated cost of the project is not a static number, but it is a sound approximation of what the final project should cost. Why would the estimate vary? Most of our projects are redesigning the space within existing homes to improve the way our clients live. As hard as we may try none of us can say with 100% certainty what is concealed inside the walls and ceiling that we will be opening to execute your plan.
And by-the-way, while-you’re-at-it….did we mention the additional jobs that our clients request we take care of while-we’re-at-it? These jobs always make sense to tackle when you have all of the tradespeople coming to your home but the best way to control the unexpected additional expense is to make a list of while-you’re-at-it items for the contractor to start thinking about and including in the original estimate if possible.
Euro-Plus Design, Inc. will negotiate the contract price with you or for you and then present the contract for your approval. Every effort is made to include the elements, nuances, and absolute necessities in the final contract but the reality is that as the project proceeds there may be instances where an error has been made. The team will review the situation and arrive at a fair and reasonable solution to the matter which may lead to an additional charge to the client. It may also be an error on the part of the designer or contractor that reasonably should have been included as part of the project and in that instance there would not be an additional charge to the client. Because Euro-Plus Design works with the same professionals repeatedly the resolution of project challenges is not adversarial but more related to an assessment of what needs to happen to move forward?
The Euro-Plus Design Facilitation Fee, if you choose to have us be your project Facilitator, is 15% of the total cost of the work performed plus any related reimbursable expenses (i. e. blueprint printing, custom samples, parking, and potentially travel related expenses.) Our Facilitation Fee compensates us for working with the allied design professionals in architecture, engineering, interior and landscape design and with the building contractor and their sub-contractors. As the Facilitator, Euro-Plus Design, Inc. will visit the job-site with the contractor to define the project, will supply answers to questions consistent with the design and quality objectives, will negotiate the contract amount and review this with the client, will provide guidance in preparing for the construction, will communicate with the contractor and visit the site on a regular basis as-needed, and will meet with the client as needed to maintain the progress on the project towards 100% completion as designed in a reasonable time period.
8. Why am I suffering with this space?
Sorry for the gratuitous marketing question.
Euro-Plus Design will design a kitchen, bathrooms, and residential space that will change the way you live. We will! But you need to let us know you need help. You have visited our web site and done a lot of reading but until you contact us by e-mail us or call our Wayland, MA office at 508-358-5392 or our Madison, CT office at 203-421-9326 Euro-Plus Design is helpless in doing for you what we do best, design.