From Foundation to Finish, K&Z Builders Work Hands-On To Ensure Satisfaction
By K. H. Queen
When Mike Krickovic and Rusty Ziegler build or remodel a home, they believe in giving clients what they want. From foundation to finishing, Mike and Rusty work alongside their craftsmen and listen to their customers to ensure satisfaction.
They recognize that it's hard to know exactly how a new home or addition will look until work is underway. Making changes, within reason, without charging the typical three to seven percent change-order fees is a part of the client service that is an integral part of their business philosophy.
"A lot of people have built with production builders and they get what they get," says Rusty Ziegler, partner in K&Z Builders LLC in Mechanicsville. "We work with customers through out the design of their plans to ensure that what gets designed is what the customer wants. But even the best made plans require changes. Custom means exactly that. If they want to change it, we change it. From the day we pour the footing to the day we finish the job, we give them the flexibility to make decisions."
Mike and Rusty are hands-on builders - not sitting in an office listening to progress reports from contractors on the job.
"We are very hands-on and field focused," Mike says. "We are on the job site daily. We maintain the construction sched- ules and communicate them frequently to the customer so they can track progress on their particular project."
When they founded their business in 2002, Rusty had been building new homes and Mike was involved in remodeling. Since they already had similar philosophies, com- bining forces allowed them to serve more people and better meet clients' needs. "New construction is very different from the addi- tion/remodeling business. We needed each others skills to create a company that could properly service both markets."
"When I was building custom homes, I had a lot of customers and friends of cus- tomers who were looking for additions and renovations," Rusty says. "They require a much higher level of involvement on a day to day basis, and I was not set up to handle the business. I was turning the work away. Mike and I got together so we could comple- ment each other's capabilities allowing us to provide great customer service and a quality construction project."
The primary areas the company is build- ing new homes in Glen Allen, Goochland, Hanover and the West End of Richmond. They build 12 to 15 new homes a year with an average price of $300,000 and up.
The company remodels 15 to 20 homes a year, including houses on River Road, Cary Street, in the near West End, Henrico County and Chesterfield County. Many additions and renovations exceed $100,000 and most people find the money is well spent as an investment in their home. The most popular renovations are master suite additions, sunrooms, screened-in porches and patios, as well as, remodeling kitchens and finishing attics.
"Renovating or remodeling an existing home is the ultimate in custom work," says Mike.
"When you build a new home, the client might come out every now and then and look around," Mike says. "When you do a renova- tion, you're on stage every day. From how clean you keep the job site, to the pace of construction, to the timely completion of the project, the customer is there daily to watch your every move."
A prospective customer - whether it's for a renovation or a new home - often comes in with a few pictures and an idea. Rusty and Mike suggest several different architects who do quality work. With a draft plan in hand, the company can provide a reasonable estimate. "We detail our scope of work, the type of molding, type of flooring - all of the features that drive the cost," Mike says.
Although some builders won't provide prices on specific features until a con- tract is signed, Rusty and Mike believe an informed customer who understands the process is more likely to be satisfied with the end result.
"We explain in detail how we got the final number," Rusty says. "No one wants to get to the end of a project and find out they're $15,000 over their budget. We try to cover those things with customers up front. Everything in the draft plan is identified. We label all the flooring. We know what the exterior is going to be. We try to give them numbers that will keep their top end budget where it needs to be. We give all that infor- mation up front - before the customer signs a contract with us."
They discuss a budget, get final plans drawn and usually can begin work within three to four weeks of getting those final plans. The homeowners pick out all the fea- tures for their home - with guidance from Mike or Rusty.
"They pick out everything - brick colors, shingles, siding, toiletry trim, plumbing style, light fixtures - and we help them through that process with every selection," Rusty says.
"Putting what they want into reality is hard for a lot of people. We take the time to give them the assistance they need."
On every job, the company strives to include extra services just to show the hom- eowner they appreciate the business. On one home, they changed a paint color after the first coat was already on the walls because the color didn't turn out the way the hom- eowner expected.
"The customer got what they were look- ing for and as a result, they gave us a referral." says Rusty.
This extra attention to client satisfaction is paying off. After only three years, K&Z Builders LLC have built a solid reputation. Two-thirds of their clients are referrals and they're already seeing repeat customers.
"We have customers we've built a home for, then we went back and finished a third- floor attic," Rusty says.
As home prices continue to rise, others may be inclined to enter the building profession. Mike advises pro- spective builders to become very famil- iar with every trade involved in building a home.
"A good contractor is only as good as his subs," Mike says. "We constantly evaluate our sub contractors based on quality, ser- vice and value. We are not a low cost, high volume builder. Getting a low cost quote from a sub contractor who cannot deliver the service and quality we expect does us no good. We want the job done right the first time."
Recent building trends include three- car garages, third-floor princess suites and home offices. Building codes and inspec- tors also have gotten tighter - a scrutiny the company welcomes. For example, homes constructed today must withstand stronger winds and gusts than homes built just a few years ago.
"It provides a better built home with little if any additional cost," Mike says.
"We truly want to be a solution for our customers," Rusty says. "We want them to be able to come to us with a project. Instead of trying to fit a round peg into a square hole, we want to customize our business around their project ? not their project around our business. On every job, we make sure it's a custom-designed, custom-installed, quality- built project."