How we work

Design/Build
Houseworks' preference, and most common mode of operation, is to perform planning, design, and construction for our projects.  In our experience, this creates significant efficiencies and cost reductions, due particularly to the close-knit nature of our team and overlapping capabilities.

However we have generated designs which have been built by others, and we have built projects designed by others, and would happily be involved with such projects in the future.

The Design Process
Typically the process will start off with a meeting between at least one of Houseworks' principals and the client at the prospective site. The purpose of  this meeting is to initiate the personal relationship that will become important if and as the project progresses, and to become familiar with the site, existing conditions, and the client's needs, wants, and objectives. If at the conclusion of this first meeting there is a mutual desire to proceed, both parties sign a Design Agreement. 

Since subsequent efforts by Houseworks will be billable on an hourly basis, it is also desirable that at this first meeting, the scope and focus of the next steps is established.  Depending on the situation, the initial focus might be on only general design refinement with emphasis on development of cost estimates, or in another situation it could be that detailed exploration and presentation of design alternatives might be the priority.

Relatively early in the design process (ideally at the first meeting) it is necessary to address the issue of budget.  We realize that some clients might be uncomfortable with this, for fear that we will develop a project that just happens to consume the entire budget.  However if the issue of budget is not discussed, a more likely outcome is that time and effort is spent developing a nice design that turns out not to be within the client's budget.

The Construction Process
Nearly all of our projects to date have been conducted under a time and materials contract.  The Construction contract is separate from the Design contract.
An hourly rate is charged for Houseworks labor (design, construction management, and actual construction activities).  All materials and subcontractor efforts are billed at actual cost.
All costs are marked up by a percentage-based contractor's fee to cover company overhead and profit.
Major changes in project scope and budget, due to uncontrollable factors or to client-requested changes and additions, will be documented via change order.

We feel strongly that the T&M approach enables us to provide the best value and the appropriate level of quality for the client.  Especially in the remodeling arena, where there often are hidden complications, a fixed bid approach requires that the contractor build in an extra margin for safety.  If unknowns do not materialize, the contractor pockets extra profit, and if the unknowns exceed the safety allowance, the contractor has some motivation to take shortcuts in other areas.  T&M avoids what can be an adversarial situation and creates a climate in which the contractor and the client can openly and cooperatively solve problems and establish priorities in order to develop the best result with the most value to the client.


Our Business
Houseworks is structured as a partnership LLC.

We are licensed in Virginia as a Class A General Contractor.

We maintain full liability and builder's risk insurance policies.

Our goal is to build and sustain a human- and quality- oriented business for the long term.