Mason Lord (Big50 2001, at right in photo) says he's “a nuts and bolts kind of guy.” But Lord, owner with Dave Seegers of Hudson Valley Preservation, in Sherman, Conn., says he's now “really seeing what happens in the creative process. It's like magic, and when [the process is happening] in front of clients it's like performing, and it's fun for them.”

Lord and his team have developed a design/build process that involves participation from the designers to the electricians to the foundation contractors. “Imagine having 20 people looking at your project and thinking about all the problems, and solving them together to arrive at the best possible outcome,” Lord says.

The process begins with HVP gatekeeper Laura Lurcott qualifying callers. Then Lord and Lurcott attend a sales meeting, which is guided by a written agenda that the prospect receives beforehand. “We listen to them, try to understand their needs, and discuss the financial investment,” Lord says. If the customer wants to move forward they write a check for the design — 10% to 15% of the total job estimate.

HVP then measures the house, begins developing a design, and produces a 3-D computer model. The remodeler meets with the clients remotely, using “GoToMeeting,” an online link. “Anyone involved in the meeting can look at the sketches on screen and draw on them [using GoToMeeting's pen icon].”

From there HVP further develops the project and qualifies it with vendors, trade partners, and external engineers to hone the estimate. “The next step is presenting the project to the clients in person,” Lord says. “That's where the real show happens.”

“At some of these meetings, our draftsman is in one place, the person manipulating the architecture on screen is in another. The designer might be in another state, and we're all on speaker phone.” Lord and the clients review the design, broadcast on a screen from a laptop.

The process wasn't always this smooth, and it's been refined over the past five years. But with production so heavily involved, Lord says, “getting another set of eyes and additional creative ideas” has made all the difference.