Monthly Archives: July 2014

“REALITY” SHOWS SKEWING HOME RENOVATION REALITY

We all know that home renovation reality shows are everywhere today. It’s hard to flip through the channels and not see one. Typically there are two or three running at any given time. This trend has certainly not hurt cable ratings. I read that HGTV, at the end of 2013, was the second most-watched cable TV channel by the coveted 25–54 demographic. On one hand, this genre has been good for developing enthusiasm for home improvement projects. Homeowners today are excited about the idea of transforming their interior and exterior spaces. In addition, they’re coming to us with some interesting ideas and are open to trying new technologies and materials. On the other hand, though, the movement is painting an unrealistic view of how professional, well-built renovations come together as well as how Builders and Homeowners interact.

Couple Watching TV

The first issue is cost.Home renovation shows are building some high-end renovations at times, for half of what they would typically cost. For a Homeowner with remodeling experience, this is not always an issue. These Clients understand what real-world, high-end construction typically costs. Real numbers, however, sometimes come as a shock to Homeowners who have never completed a renovation project. It’s difficult to say how the shows are achieving such low costs. We can assume that the networks are helping to offset the costs and that sponsorships play a role.

The second issue is timing.  Reality shows are completing significant renovations in unrealistic timeframes, sometimes building major renovations in as little as two weeks. In these cases, it’s probably safe to assume that the work is not up to the highest building standards. Even with high-definition TV, it’s difficult to see the true quality of the craftsmanship in the end result. We can assume that all of the materials being sourced are readily available or rushed by a manufacturer who has a sponsorship arrangement. In addition, these shows have multiple crews coddled together and working on top of one another through all hours of the night. The reality is that a custom renovation may have special-order materials that require lead-time. Homeowners may live in an area that requires more time for permitting. And you simply can’t work your crew all night every night and have them working on top of one another. It’s not safe, it’s not good for the quality of the work, and it’s not sustainable. Even though the host may be there every week, there’s a reason that TV work crews change from episode to episode.

The last issue involves how unexpected twists on jobs are projected and how the Client and Builder interact. It’s clear that home improvement reality shows are scripted with a formula that almost always includes a surprise problem midway through the project. Although renovations will sometimes involve the unknown, and issues can and do arise along the way, the way they’re dealt with on TV is often inaccurate. Pre-job inspections and estimates by an experienced Builder should provide a fairly solid assessment that includes the potential issues and costs associated with any home renovation. And contingencies should be accurately set aside. For example, if your electrical panel requires updating, this can and should be assessed before starting the project, and included in the estimate.

I’m sure that, as with any trend, reality TV will one day be replaced with another form of programming. Until then, we should all take “reality” with a grain of salt.

Kelly M. Wright
Wright Building Company

THE WRIGHT BUILDING COMPANY LEADERSHIP TEAM

For those who are not familiar with our operation, I wanted to provide a company history, introduce our leadership team, and share my background.

Team Outside

I started the business back in 1985. Soon thereafter, my brother Chris joined up as a partner. Erno Bacso joined us in 2005 and has helped to expand our HomeWorks division. While Wright Building Company provides custom home construction services, HomeWorks is dedicated to high-end renovation and addition work as well as estate care services.

When Chris and I started out, we established a set of advanced building standards early on. Our goal was to become a high-end home building team that offered the most comprehensive home construction services on the market. We knew that approaching business this way was critical to properly servicing the sophisticated Fairfield County residential market.

I’ve been in the home construction business for over 30 years. I take pride in my ability to analyze and provide solutions to the vast range of challenges that arise on a construction site. And at this level the challenges can be significant. I oversee the entire operation here. I’ve served on the boards of the Carpentry Industry Partnership, Interfaith Housing, and Homes for Hope. I currently serve on the Building and Grounds Committee for the Southport Congregational Church.

My path to professional home building started with my major in Architecture at the University of Arizona. My interests outside the building industry include scuba diving and fishing and like my brother Chris, I’m also a licensed pilot. I’m married with four children and live in Fairfield.

Chris Wright
After a successful tour in the USAF, Chris joined the business in 1985. He’s responsible for some of the most critical components of our business, including overseeing client relations, and working closely with the controller to monitor job costs and budgets. He’s also in charge of safety compliance, warranty issues, and qualifying new employees and subcontractors.  Chris is an avid fisherman and a pilot.

Chris is married with three children and is involved with Habitat for Humanity and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Erno Bacso
Erno has been a rising star at Wright Building Company. He came to the United States from Romania in 2005 when he began working for the Wright brothers as an intern. He rapidly advanced to Project Supervisor, then Project Manager. In 2011 he became Partner.

Erno runs the HomeWorks division and is responsible for project management and estate management. He also maintains relationships with several Architects and Interior Designers. Erno has an engineering degree from the Technical University of Cluj Napoca. He lives in Fairfield with his wife and two daughters.

Our leadership team, along with our amazing staff and partners, are the reason we’ve been around for so long. I look back at all that we’ve built here and smile with pride. When I think of the support of my team, it’s clear to me how we’ve come so far.

Kelly M. Wright
Wright Building Company

THE IMPORTANCE OF ASSEMBLING YOUR HOME BUILDING TEAM EARLY IN THE PROCESS

At Wright Building Company, we’ve worked on numerous custom home projects and renovations in Fairfield County where the Builder was brought in after the Architect completed the plans. The most effective and productive of our home building projects, however, have been when the Architect and Builder are brought in at the same time, before starting the project. Involving the team from the start of the process encourages a more cooperative working environment and ensures that each team member is on the same page from the start.

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Involving your Homebuilder as the plans are being drawn up will assure that the structural designs are feasible. Working this way improves the ability to bring a home building or renovation project in on time and budget.  Following are a few additional reasons why it’s important to bring your Builder in early.

Land and Site Assessments
An advanced building company can assess the feasibility of building on challenging landscapes. Waterfront lots or land with slope and/or ledge issues are common in towns such as Westport, Greenwich, and Fairfield. These types of lots require proper assessment to ensure that the home can and will be built properly. Taking these steps ahead of time can be critical to the structural integrity of a home and can dictate the materials needs and engineering requirements. The land assessment needs to be completed before the design phase.

Materials
Some home building materials, particularly custom orders, require significant lead times for delivery, sometimes up to several months. When a Builder is involved from the start, they will be able to identify these needs in advance, allowing the job to stay on schedule.

Building Codes and Compliance
An experienced local Builder will be thoroughly familiar with Fairfield County town building codes and permit lead-time requirements. A good Builder will help to ensure that plans are approved for a permit the first time they are submitted. Delays can get costly when plans are kicked back from the town. Furthermore, the Builder will know exactly when and how to submit for a building permit and schedule necessary inspections during construction. This will help to ensure that the schedule remains on track from the start.

At Wright Building Company, we value the working relationships we’ve developed through the years with our Architects. And in our experience, the process is that much more harmonious when we get an early start together.

Kelly M. Wright
Wright Building Company