Helping design and building businesses during this crisis offers advantages for homeowners
By Becky Harris March 21, 2020
You may have been planning to start a home project or remodel this spring and are wondering what to do now that people are being urged or told to stay at home. The coronavirus crisis makes it hard to imagine hiring a designer, shopping for your home or meeting with home pros to talk about a project. But one silver lining of this crisis cloud is that it may be one of most optimal times to do so.
You can stay safely isolated at home and still get started on a project and support the design and construction pros who are such an integral part of our community. If you were already planning a project, or if spending so much time at home has you thinking of improvements you’d like to make, here are some suggestions that will help you improve your home while you support these small businesses.
1. Set Up a Virtual Consult
“Keeping people employed helps the overall economy,” architect Jonathan Kuhn says. And during this crisis, an advantage for homeowners is that many pros have more time on their hands than they normally would — no commutes, site visits, show houses or markets are keeping them from working on your project. Fill that time with a virtual consultation.
If you haven’t yet found a pro to work with, you can start by searching the Houzz pro directory for an architect, designer or remodeler whose style, location and specialties match your needs.
Then it’s as simple as using FaceTime or Skype to give pros a tour of your space. You can answer their style and function questionnaires, share inspiration photos in Houzz ideabooks and get to know each other without having to meet in person.
See Schroeder Design/Build's plan for Virtual Consultations.
2. Plan for Future Projects
Use some of this stuck-at-home time to research home pros, then reach out to start planning future projects. “Hire designers and architects now to plan future projects — it doesn’t involve a lot of face-to-face. It doesn’t cost a lot and helps gets projects ‘shovel ready’ for when the quarantines lift,” green construction firm owner Carl Christianson says.
Most design pros are already set up for virtual design meetings. Architect Craig O’Connell notes that he had already been working virtually with many clients due to busy schedules, working parents who travel and clients who live out of town. “This has been very successful in that sharing a screen allows the owner to see the plans and models, and I can talk through design concepts and even mark and highlight items while talking,” he says. If you’re not familiar with videoconferencing software, your design pro can help you get set up.
O’Connell also notes that it’s a good time to get a sense of your personal style so that you can share it with your designer. “I’m encouraging folks to keep inspiration images and ideas going through Houzz ideabooks, and my team and I are continuing to move projects forward,” he says.
Architect Seth Ballard says that starting the planning phase now will put homeowners in a good position for launching construction later. This can include preliminary planning and pricing, permit drawings, the permitting process and interior design, which he says can take six to eight months. “It is a good time for homeowners to do planning and production of the drawings of their projects now,” he says. “They can decide to have something move forward only once they are comfortable with their own total financial situation and the cost of construction.”
3. Add an Accessory Dwelling Unit to Your Property
In times of uncertainty, planning for financial security is comforting. An accessory dwelling unit in the form of a backyard cottage can provide rental income in the future. If you’ve been considering adding one, take advantage of design pros’ availability now and start the planning process.
4. Commission a Master Plan for Your Yard
If you’ve been thinking about yard projects, consider commissioning a landscape architect or landscape designer to draw up a master plan for you now. This will give you a comprehensive and cohesive strategy for the landscape that you can complete in phases.
Landscape designer James Drzewiecki notes that for now, he’s meeting with clients as long as it’s outside and with proper social distancing. “The biggest thing is to ask that clients be flexible, and for those that already have work scheduled to remain calm and not pull the plug on their projects,” he says.
5. Get Resilient and Energy-Efficient
Christianson notes that it’s a good time to think about resiliency projects. Whether you’ve thought about going off the grid, making your home more resilient or simply improving energy efficiency, use this time to talk with pros who specialize in resilient and green design and building. These kinds of projects include rainwater collection; drinking-water storage; planting of edible gardens; and installation of solar power, backup batteries and generators.
A number of interior designers and decorators have shops. While you’re sheltering in place and bored out of your mind, think about replacing those throw pillows you’ve never loved, scooping up that Mother’s Day gift you need to buy or procuring a lovely fragrance to provide your family with some much-needed aromatherapy. Support design shops by shopping for these items in their online stores.
If your favorite design shop doesn’t have online shopping, buying gift certificates is a good way to support them. Buy them now to give to design-loving loved ones later for birthdays and holidays, or buy a gift certificate for yourself to use when the brick-and-mortar store reopens.
7. Give the Gift of Design
Speaking of gift certificates, buy the gift of design now to give to someone later. This could include plans for a kitchen garden from a landscape designer, a session with a professional organizer or feng shui expert, time with a color consultant or a consultation with an interior designer. Or give it to yourself. If you’d rather have an in-home, in-person meeting when it’s safe, it will give you something to look forward to and help support a small business during this crucial time.
8. Write Reviews
If financially it’s not the time to spend money on your home, there are other ways to support the professionals of our community. If a design or remodeling pro on Houzz has improved your life in the past but you haven’t gotten around to writing them a glowing review, do it now — reviews are immensely helpful to a business.
(Please help Schroeder Design/Build by taking a moment to leave us a great review at Yelp or Houzz.)
Recommend pros to your family and friends who may be ready to start a project. Support firms you like and admire on social media. And if you live in a high-traffic area in a house that shows off a home pro’s hard work, offer to put their sign up in your front yard.
NOTE: We are pleased to offer this reprint of this helpful article. See the original article here on Houzz.com.