Bethenny Builds {What is "Design/Build" Anyway?}

The benefits of choosing a design/build general contractor are made glaringly obvious by the missteps of fan-favorite Bravolebrity Bethenny Frankel. Don't make the same mistake.

Put your pride aside for a moment, and answer me this: who watches 'Bethenny Ever After' on Bravo! (right here! Guilty.)? Are you following her journey through renovating her new apartment?  If you're not, here's the three-second rundown:

Bethenny creates the Skinnygirl Margarita.  

Bethenny sells said idea to Jim Beam.  

Bethenny makes more money than she knows what to do with.

Bethenny and her husband (super nice, super normal, super cute) Jason buy a humungo apartment in NYC and attempt to remodel it (read: create as much closet space as humanly possible) with the help of a mother-daughter team of designers, an architect, and an extremely bizarre and inappropriate contractor.  

Chaos (and frustration, and miscommunication) ensues. The results have yet to be seen.

Something about this storyline has been bugging Mike and I since the season began (sorry honey, I just outed you. Readers, please don't be too harsh on him for his TV choices. He'll blame it all on me, but truth be told I think he enjoys it. Sorry again, babe. ::sheepish smile::). Nearly every episode features a storyline about the difficulties Bethenny is having wrangling her "team" into cooperating. She is endlessly frustrated with the designers' inability to communicate to the architect what they are trying to accomplish, and beyond annoyed at the contractor for not being able to stay on budget, on time, on track, yadda yadda yadda.

Does this sound familiar? Assuming that you don't watch Bethenny (or don't want to admit it. That's fine.) you've heard this story a million times from your friends and family who have attempted a major remodeling project of their own.  

Her problem is that the "team" that she threw together is not really a team. They have never worked together. They don't know each other at all. They are individual entities with individual goals. She spends hours upon precious hours trying her best to get them to work nicely together, but it is an uphill battle.

Mike and I find this story tragic, unfortunate, and completely avoidable. This is inherently the reason that Mike has chosen to conduct most of his construction business in a design/build format.

And so you wonder, "what is design/build?" (I thought you'd never ask.) In a nutshell, it's when you have one point of contact throughout the entire construction process. From concept through completion, that person is there through every step of the way, keeping everyone on track and working together towards your goal. You have one consistent point of contact to speak with, meet with, plan with, construct with, pay, blame... (just kidding on that last one). This person acts as the "conductor;" the person in charge of making sure the project runs smoothly. It completely simplifies things, and in most instances clients are surprised and impressed to discover that the most cost-effective option is for a company like ours to coordinate the architecture, the design, and the construction of your project.

When you work with a general contractor who operates in a design/build format, he knows your design goals and budgetary constraints from the get-go. He will never suggest a plan of action that is beyond what you are able to afford, since he will only get the actual construction business once you have agreed to the plans. Your goal and his goal is one and the same: to have you in your new home as quickly as possible.

Here's how it would have looked on Bethenny Ever After, if she had gone with a design/build firm, instead of piecemealing her design and build team together:

Bethenny buys apartment.

Bethenny calls a design/build general contractor.

Bethenny meets with the general contractor, the architect that the contractor believes is the best fit for Bethenny, the [kitchen, bath, interior] designers that the contractor works with most, and anyone else on the contractor's team that will be working with Bethenny on said project.

Bethenny tells everyone at ONCE what she wants and how she wants it.

Bethenny puts her trust in the contractor to act as her spokesperson and her team's leader throughout the (astonishingly smooth) project.

Bethenny sits back and watches in awe as the contractor fields her questions and addresses her concerns [about her closets] with ease, and orchestrates the other team players.

Bethenny finds herself with more time on her hands than she is used to, and uses it to play with her adorable daughter Brynn, and to bicker with her (seemingly perfect) husband. And to go to therapy.

Bethenny moves into her perfect, remodeled, closet-centric apartment.

Bethenny raves to US Weekly, People Magazine, (the genius that is) Andy Cohen, and her 860,000 Twitter followers about how phenomenal her remodeling experience was and how she can't wait to do it again, maybe in LA.

Period. End of story. (Kind of boring, eh?)

So perhaps Bethenny should have gone Design/Build. Or then again, maybe not. If she had, there may not have been a dramatic, tumultuous storyline for devoted Bethenny followers like us (err.... me) to tune in to watch.  Guess it's a trade off. Good thing it's not too late for you.

Ellie Mroz is the C.A.O. and Design Specialist for Michael Robert Construction, a Westfield-based Design/Build General Contractor. http://www.MichaelRobertConstruction.com

She can be reached at Ellie@MichaelRobertConstruction.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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