By REMODELING Magazine Staff. Last year, designers Amy Sussek and Jackie Zager launched a Web site called www.askthekitchendesigners.com. Sussek answers a few questions about consumer concerns.
Why did you start the Web site?
We answer the same questions over and over again at work. We wanted to give homeowners a place to educate themselves about materials and the remodeling process, so that when they start shopping at a showroom, they won't be overwhelmed.
What are the most common questions or issues of homeowners?
They ask if the price they have been quoted for their kitchen remodel project is fair. They ask about trends in colors. We answer a lot of questions about the pros and cons of different countertop materials. Homeowners want to know the difference between several brands of solid surfacing. They also ask me for recommendations for contractors or designers. I tell them to ask for referrals from friends and neighbors.
What advice do you have for remodeling contractors?
When sending a client to a designer, I would advise contractors to prepare good measurements of the space, a list of what products the homeowners need to choose, and what products/appliances they will re-use from their existing house. One contractor I've worked with for many years has an allowance for his customers. That works because he knows how I work and the general price of products. Problems arise when contractors give clients a low budget. The homeowners come to the showroom and see the options and end up choosing items that add up to double the original budget. If you educate the client before they come to us, our process will go more smoothly and the client will have more faith in you.
How can contractors use your Web site?
Remodelers should feel free to direct their customers to our site for information on products, design, et cetera. We feel the key to a great kitchen remodel is for customers, designers, and installers to work together as a team. We will soon post a database on our site where contractors and designers pay for listings. They'll receive the first three months free and then pay $500 for one year.