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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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A Matter of Design/Build

For many homeowners, the traditional way of managing a home improvement project involves figuring out what you want to do, calling a contractor, then hoping for the best. Bridget Mote and Jim Hayes, owners of The Well Dressed Home, offer an alternative: a design-build process.


    Design/build is a unique, consultative process that allows a client to work with a designer — Bridget Mote  — to determine the scope as well the design details of a project. Once that design is complete, the builder, Jim Hayes, takes over to execute the plan and complete the work.
    It’s a process that works well for Mote and Hayes, as well as for their clients. “We do it all, from design to exterior work to fine trim and carpentry,” Mote says, “and everything in between.”
    Mote, whose design experience includes ownership, with her husband Greg, of the The Well Dressed Window, enjoys working with clients to design a project — everything from a kitchen remodel or living room re-design to a full addition — that takes the client’s wishes and turns them into a well-thought-out plan. To that end, she and her partner Jim Hayes spend time with the client, listening for exactly what it is they want to accomplish.

Deciding details — coming up with a plan
    “We ask them what they love and what they’re not exactly thrilled about with their home today,” she says. “What they want and what they don’t want are equally important. We consider the scope of the project — a remodel is much different than new construction,” Mote points out, adding, “will the work make the appliances look dated? How does the color scheme they’re looking for impact the adjacent spaces? I love this aspect of the process.”
    As the general contractor on the project, Hayes is able to deliver firsthand what the client wants, and offer his input on the building principles affecting the solution. If a client wants to move a wall or add onto a room, Hayes can tell them immediately if that is possible, or if an alternative plan might work better. “We have great mutual respect,” Mote says, adding, “Jim just sees things from a different perspective, a practical perspective, and that is a great benefit to our clients, as they get a clear picture of what’s possible up front in our initial consult.”
    After the initial consult, Jim and Bridget’s next meeting with the clients involves product samples. “I’ll bring in samples of what we’ve talked about: cabinet samples, flooring, backsplashes, sink options, faucets,  paint fan decks, carpet options, trim pieces, and vendor catalogs, so the client can see and touch the products that are going to be in their home once we’re done.”
    The Well Dressed Home handles all of the business aspects of the project, including obtaining proper permits and arranging inspections, so the homeowner can focus on life as usual and what they do best. All costs pertaining to permits and inspections are included in the bids, so there are no surprises. Once the design and bids are agreed upon, contracts specifying all the details are drawn up and presented, as well as a timetable for the work. From there, it’s a go.

Working the plan
    At this point, Jim Hayes takes over. A contractor with nearly 30 years of experience and a track record of successful projects, Hayes oversees the work of executing the plan. Mote is still involved, however, supervising design details, trouble-shooting, and occasionally acting as chief encourager when a client gets anxious about the process. “We really do mesh as partners,” Mote explains, “we see our job as making sure our clients are at ease while this work is getting done.”  
    “We strive to be forthcoming and completely transparent about how things are going with our client,” Mote says. “Jim is quite possibly the most organized person I’ve ever known. He has every project precisely outlined on spreadsheets to keep the project moving forward on time, and every week our client receives an updated copy of the spreadsheet, so they know exactly when things are scheduled and what to expect for the coming week.”
    Mote observes this is one secret of their success, saying, “The goal here — communication. We found a huge opportunity in the remodeling niche, that if we can communicate consistently, we can eliminate the single biggest source of client irritation with contractors. Contractors simply don’t communicate, and that’s what makes clients nervous. So, we make communication a priority and have turned it into a strength. Ultimately, we believe that if we can get the work done on time, do it right, and keep our clients informed on where we’re at and what to expect, everyone wins.”
    When working on a house addition, The Well Dressed Home utilizes a “from the outside in” building process. “What that means,” Mote says, “is when we work on an addition, we build and frame as much as possible before we knock down walls, so we can minimize disruption to the homeowner. We do not want to be in there any longer than we have to be.”
    When contracts are signed, a deposit is paid. Depending on the size and complexity of the work, an intermediate payment may be made, but final payment is not due until the work is completed.

Serendipity from the start
    In a sense, serendipity brought Mote and Hayes together. Mote, with a degree in athletic training and exercise physiology, did not meet Hayes, a Division I football player who graduated from Indiana State University, at a sporting event.
    Bridget and Greg decided to invest in a window coverings franchise. Bridget quickly realized that she not only enjoyed the design piece, but she was good at it. Before long, design became her passion. “I just loved it,” she says, “working with color, fabrics, helping these people accomplish goals with their homes, I felt like the work I was doing really mattered to these folks I had the pleasure of working with.”
    The more she worked with window design, the more people asked her to help with other design issues. As she began to take on other projects, she found herself enlisting the help of Hayes over the question of a wall demolition. “We just clicked,” she says of Hayes.
    About seven years ago, they agreed to collaborate as partners in The Well Dressed Home, offering design-build service to a select group of clients.

Company culture
    The Well Dressed Home has earned an excellent reputation among clients, which can be seen in reviews on the company’s Facebook page. Mote believes that reputation has been earned, in part, because the company is careful about the projects it chooses to work on. “It depends, partly, on what the project is,” she says, “We pick and choose our clients, based on what we think we can do and do well. We only take on a few clients at a time, depending on the size of their projects, so that we can offer good service, and complete each job in a quality way. We are always available to answer questions or address a client’s concerns. We try not to spread ourselves too thin.”

Family considerations
    Another reason Mote and Hayes work to keep their client list at a manageable level is their families. Mote and her husband Greg, who works with Mote at Well Dressed Windows as head of the installation crew, are parents of three children, who all help with the family business. Daughter Madeleine works at The Well Dressed Window Hunter-Douglas Gallery in Orland Park, Illinois, while finishing her studies at DePaul University. Both sons help over the summer with tear-outs and other construction-related jobs. Billy is playing baseball at Baylor University in Waco Texas on scholarship and Jacob, a sophomore at University High School, is going through baseball recruiting process now.
    Hayes and his wife Jill are parents of five children, including two sons, Danny, an Illinois State University graduate, and John, an Illinois State University student, who help with demolition duties over the summer. Colin is a student at Corpus Christi Catholic School; Kate works in the medical field, while Colleen will graduate from Central Catholic High School, and study design at Carthage College next fall. Granddaughter Khloe rounds out the family.
    “We want to leave a legacy to our families,” says Mote. “We are here in the Bloomington-Normal area to stay. I am blessed to be able to run a business where I can work from home and be with my kids and family.”
    
Getting in Touch with The Well Dressed Home
Clients can get in touch with Bridget Mote at The Well Dressed Home at any time through e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or by telephone at 309-275-3165. The company’s Facebook page can be found by searching for “The Well Dressed Home” on Facebook, and is updated regularly. For further information, as well as a portfolio of images of past projects, the company website can be found at thewelldressedhomeil.com/.

 

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