EDUCATION: I attended Rutgers University; I don't have a degree from them. I did my training and certification from industry groups, The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and the National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI). I've continued my education, and I'm going to receive a green-building certification this month through NARI. For home remodeling, there are no colleges that really offer training or education. So the building and remodeling associations create their own criteria and certifications.
EMPLOYER: Mark of Excellence Remodeling, West Long Branch, NJ
JOB DESCRIPTION: My job is to develop, design and budget home improvement projects for homeowners that we ultimately produce for them. I meet with them at their home, and we talk about their needs and their wants, as well as their wish lists.I create a detailed estimate for them to cover all the phases of the project. After that, they'll come back to our office to our selection center, where we will review some CAD designs, which are computer-assisted design renderings; they're computer drawings of their proposed projects, whether it's a kitchen or an addition and so on. We work on the design together. Between me and the homeowner, we'll place where the cabinetry is going to go, or how the outside is going to look. We do kitchens, bathrooms, additions and exterior patios. This computer design program allows us to do so much. Imagine being able to take a blueprint, and add colors that the customer chooses, wood colors for cabinets, exact countertop colors, and add all of that into the detail of blueprint. We'll actually put wine bottles on a table for somebody. We can actually put their furniture placement in to make sure if we're building an addition that everything fits and flows. Our company is pretty much the design end. And then we have a production staff with project managers, carpenters and helpers who actually produce the projects. Once I've met with the clients, and they have made their product selections, we handle the permit application process. Once all of those things are finalized, we have an internal meeting with design and production to coordinate the project. About a week to 10 days before the project starts, I come to the homeowner with the project leader. It gives them the opportunity to now meet their project leader, the guy that's going to be there every day. We use an outside architecting firm, Alan Zimbler Architects, based out of Freehold. But if a client has his or her own architect or blueprint, we'll work with them. I physically don't do the construction end. But our guys that do the carpentry work and manage the entire process. So we handle the project from the (cost) estimate all the way to the (cleaning) service we bring in when we're done. So we go from beginning to end.
WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE ABOUT YOUR JOB? The only thing that I would change about the job or the industry in general is that there are tons of guys out there that don't have the right licensing or insurance, or they have bad business practices or bad work ethics. They create horror stories for some clients. Unfortunately our industry is stereotyped by those guys.