HOME IMPROVEMENT

THE KEY TO TURNING A HOUSE INTO A HOME IS A WELL-THOUGHT-OUT PLAN AND A KNOWLEDGEABLE CONTRACTOR

by | April Lim

After 25 years in the business, Doug Kerr knows what makes a successful home renovation.

“Concrete may be the foundation of the home, but a proper design process is the foundation for a smooth-running project,” says the owner of Kerr Construction.

Kerr Home Improvement

The company’s long-standing experience and knowledge in the construction industry continue to provide clientele of the Vancouver, North Shore and White Rock areas with high-quality renovations, while consistently developing ways to deliver the best value to clients and keeping projects on budget and on schedule…

“We do projects in other areas, but we don’t like to go too far out of our area because part of what makes us successful is the quality control inspection done by our project supervisors. At one time I had projects spread out from Whistler to White Rock and soon realized that the level of service went down when we got too spread out. So now our goal is not to take on the world, but to be the best in our own little part of it,” – Kerr says.

Kerr started Kerr Construction as a small home repair and maintenance company. At that time he didn’t know a lot about the business, but he did have particular life experience that would help him prepare for the success he would receive with Kerr Construction.

“Before my construction career I spent four years racing on the world circuit as a member of the Canadian downhill ski team. What I took away from those years of competitive skiing was that with hard work and passion I could be one of the best at whatever
I focused on,” Kerr says.

Today, the company holds numerous Georgie Awards, B.C.’s premier housing awards program that celebrates excellence in home building, as well as a National Sam Award from the Canadian Home Builders’ Association for the best renovated kitchen in Canada.

Whether it’s a kitchen renovation, whole house renovation or any other renovation, Kerr says the most important step is the pre-planning, including pre-construction services like architectural design, interior design, engineering, zoning and permits, choosing the fixtures, finishes and more, budgeting, et cetera. One of the most common mistakes is not thinking through all the little details and how things will function, like which way doors will swing on the cabinets or the fridge. Knowing all these design specifications before starting construction is the best way to help keep a job on time and on budget.

Kerr Home Improvement

Kerr says the time it takes to finalize the design, draw up the plans, and obtain permits for a home renovation can vary (three weeks for something very simple to six months or more for more complicated whole home renovations) depending on the involvement of the homeowner and how quickly he or she makes decisions. “Once we get the permit from the city we can usually roll right into construction without delay,” Kerr says, “because we start lining up the construction crews as soon as we start the design process.” Some renovations can be completed in weeks. For instance, Kerr Construction was able to change the cabinets and finishes in one particular kitchen renovation in just four weeks, but Kerr notes it can take longer when structural issues such as moving walls, adding doors and windows, and arranging the layout of the other rooms in the home are involved.

Unlike other companies, Kerr Construction delegates a project supervisor to oversee one project at a time from start to finish.

“They are the first one on the job and the last one to leave at the end so they have continuity and are familiar with every detail. This cuts down on mistakes and miscommunications and speeds up the jobs,” Kerr says.

Kerr Construction’s design, budget and building processes always keep the client in the loop of what the project will cost all through the design process.

“Every time we deliver a new concept or make a change to the drawings or specs as we go along we give updated construction budgets so the projects stay on track. It puts the homeowner in control and is the best way to make sure they are getting the most value out of the money you spend,” Kerr says.

He also says it is important to have someone other than the person doing the work to check the final product, which is why Kerr Construction’s director of quality inspects every job to ensure each project fulfils the company’s standards. “It’s a good idea for a homeowner to ask his or her potential contractor, “What is your system for quality control?” If you get a blank stare or fumbling answer you know they haven’t thought about it before,” Kerr says.

Kerr Home ImprovementA good place to start refreshing the look and feel of your home is the kitchen. “It is the area where you would get the most enjoyment and use out of a renovation, especially if you take the time to design the kitchen to suit your lifestyle. The kitchen and great room is where people spend most of their waking hours in a home. It makes sense to do it right,” Kerr says.

But sometimes it is difficult for a homeowner to get an idea of how much things will cost and if they can afford to do everything they want to do it at the quality they want, which is why Kerr says it is important to have a contractor who has a standard and effective way to find out what is really important to you as a homeowner.

“Before we had our own in-house design department I worked with a lot of different designers. Some of them went on forever going in circles and proposing new things every day. It’s good to be creative, but it eats up the design time and gets nothing decided. I have also worked with other designers who had a process that very quickly got to the core of what the client really wanted and could afford to build,” Kerr says.

Renovations and renovations in general, Kerr says he is seeing a shift towards contemporary styles. Recently, he has been doing a lot of work for homeowners of older homes with traditional character who also want the clean, simple lines of a contemporary home. To successfully do this, Kerr says putting careful thought into the design is important. “You have to know what to change and what not to change. We did this in the kitchen of a beautiful 1930s home by putting in a lot of built-in appliances and clean lines among other contemporary details, but used a very traditional and classy marble countertop. The marble was a traditional material, but we used it in a contemporary way to tie the old and new together,” Kerr says.

A renovated kitchen is one way to increase the value of a home, and making timeless choices and paying attention to the continuity that comes with good design can help to ensure a larger return when and if it comes time to sell. Beyond that, an updated kitchen can bring enjoyment and improve the quality of living, in addition to becoming the new living room of the home where family and friends can comfortably gather and bond. And if that doesn’t sound like a good foundation for memorable time spent in the home, we’re not sure what does. » kerrconstruction.ca