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Design Direction: Realistic views, planning lead to success

| Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, 8:55 p.m.
Regis McQuaide, president of Master Remodelers in Castle Shannon
Guy Wathen | Trib Total Media
Regis McQuaide, president of Master Remodelers in Castle Shannon
A living space designed by Regis McQuaide
Master Remodelers
A living space designed by Regis McQuaide

Regis McQuaide started his company, Master Remodelers, in 1988 when he retired from a corporate career and tapped into a previous passion.

“Then again, I sawed the legs off my grandmother's coffee table when I was 8, so maybe it was just inherent and my destiny,” says McQuaide, a certified graduate remodeler and building analyst.

His Castle Shannon-based business, including a team with certifications in design and aging-in-place, has completed more than 1,000 jobs all over the region — the vast majority with repeat customers or customer referrals.

“My design-build process is different from the traditional architect-contractor approach or the general contractor approach,” McQuaide says. “When you call Master Remodelers with a project of our specialty, you get me on the phone. And you get me throughout the course of the project, from start to finish. I am the common thread throughout our entire relationship if you hire us to perform your renovation.”

Question: Describe how you work with clients.

Answer: From our very first meeting at your home, I am looking at how to create what you want in a way that accomplishes your goals, but also I'm considering what is feasible with production and the budget. Our process starts with a discussion about your dream, wants and needs for your project, but we also touch immediately on your budget to make sure it aligns with the reality of your vision. When you hire us for the design phase, our deliverable to you is a buildable plan, which includes 3-D imaging, actual costs — not a “guesstimate” — and a realistic timeline for the renovation.

If the overall scope of work and our budget are a fit for you, we then move forward to the second phase, the construction phase. Because of our collective upfront planning, the construction flows like falling dominoes, and if there are changes along the way, we can make them quickly and efficiently without affecting our timeline and budget.

Q: What are common mistakes homeowners make when taking on a remodeling job?

A: Homeowners, in their rush to get something started, fail to design the space and plan the necessary steps to make their actual selections so that they understand what things cost. They tend to believe that the contractor has their same exact vision in his mind, and they let him make it up as he goes along. Then, in the end, they feel the pain and finally understand why it didn't turn out quite right and why it cost them twice as much.

Q: What are some emerging trends you're seeing right now?

A: I think people want a home that's aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but they also want a space that functions properly and is comfortable in temperature. That's why we do design and spatial planning as our model. We see the relationship between doorways, dead ends and bottlenecks. We look for ways to make things flow in a circular motion. And we do home performance work. When you're opening up walls, it makes perfect sense to consider proper air-sealing and insulation to make a room more comfortable and more energy efficient, eliminating drafts and high energy bills.

In the color world, “Alabaster,” “Dove” and other neutral colors that are soft and pastel-like are back in vogue.

Q: What's the most unusual request you've had?

A: Turning a small church into a home for a woman who was interested in universal design, aka gracefully aging-in-place. It turned out beautifully.

Q: How is media — such as HGTV and Pinterest — affecting the home-remodeling industry?

A: These resources can be very helpful in helping a client get clear ideas of what they want, as well as helping them communicate their idea visually. The downfall is that these sources also make it look easy, inexpensive and fast, which, in reality, it is not. Some people think that what they see on a TV show is the reality of the process, and they assume that what they are seeing at a really cheap price is of good quality and code-compliant.

Rachel Weaver is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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