Steven and Stephanie Ciaglo operate One Room At A Time, a full-service general contractor of residential remodeling projects with in-house architectural and interior design services. They’re also members at ProSource of Milwaukee South (Franklin). Here, they share their insights on how they, and ProSource Wholesale, fulfill their clients remodeling dreams.
How has ProSource Wholesale helped your clients?
ProSource is a great resource for us and our clients. The friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable staff at the Franklin location makes our job of selection and ordering easier.
We prefer to join our clients during showroom visits, but if we’re not available, the staff steps in as another ‘member’ of our team to work through their selections. Understandably, clients can be overwhelmed with the process and the array of options and decisions. The showroom is well organized and the guidance of the staff for material selections based on the use of the space is helpful.
They can also direct us to a material we may not have found to coordinate with a specific color palette, and new products that we may not be aware of.
What’s the most valuable benefit of being a ProSource Wholesale member?
Two things: pricing and the knowledgeable staff.
ProSource beats our costs on certain products, and their promotions are also a great cost-savings to our clients, if timed correctly for purchase.
Sometimes finding a floor that coordinates within a client’s budget can be very difficult. I’ll scour the showroom five times and not find anything, but, the showroom folks find it immediately. They’re so familiar with the products. I can say “Here’s my budget. I need a hard maple, wide plank, hand distressed hardwood,” and they can find that.
At ProSource, everything’s in one spot—hardwood, carpet, tile—and they are constantly increasing their product selection which is really great. They let you know what’s new, which is really helpful, because we just don’t always have time to research new materials, or go to product seminars. It’s nice to have a group of people who not only know what’s new but they know the benefits of it, as well.
What brings you the most satisfaction in your work?
Being able to help our clients bring their dreams to life and satisfying their needs, which can change greatly over time. We enjoy hearing that we’ve exceeded our clients’ expectations, and that they love the result and are using the space(s) we create for them.
What are the greatest challenges you face in your work?
There are common issues that arise in remodeling such as previous projects that were built improperly. This causes frustrations; however, we correct the problems to create a base foundation to proceed with the project the right way, avoiding any future headaches for the homeowners.
Also, you never really know what you find once you open up the walls in an older home—mold, dry rot, improper framing, lack of insulation, etc. There can be unforeseen issues that need to be resolved that take funds away from interior finishes and fixtures to keep the budget intact. Sometimes we need to reselect those items to maintain the budget if the homeowners don’t want to exceed their contract totals. ProSource has plenty of similar finishes in a variety of quality materials at varying price points that allow us to do that.
What trends are you seeing with regard to home design and remodeling?
There are several trends right now in the industry. One of these is personal style. Most homeowners aren’t too concerned about how their tastes and design choices might impact a future buyer, or how it will affect resale. They’re designing the space for themselves.
More homeowners are buying a second home as a family vacation property. Typically, these are older homes at a lower market cost that need substantial upgrades. We are finding that we frequently are providing a remodel or addition budget and schematic, as well as a tear-down and rebuild new scope cost.
Homeowners prefer to stay in the home they’re in, if a remodel or addition can solve their space-related issues. They’re willing to spend a little more to have it done right because they like their current location, school district, or area.
And lastly, in interiors, we’re seeing a few different trends. One being a rustic chic look with hints of industrial accents such as metal, iron and hand hewn recycled beams and wood. The other is the more contemporary look with grey and white color schemes and a neutral bright feel.
What’s most important to your customers when working with you?
Honestly, integrity and prompt, accurate service. We believe our clients trust us and appreciate the hard work. Most of our projects are repeat client work or referrals from former clients. We have completed four and five separate projects with some clients, and have developed long-standing relationships with them and their families. This encourages us that we’re doing something right.
Value engineering is another key factor. We work with our clients to bring the budget into their cost window. It’s a game of give and take somewhat—decrease the price point of finishes and fixtures to gain a larger construction space, or make the most of the space within the existing walls to allow for a higher finish and fixture budget.
We can make design suggestions to give them the same feel as the “inspiration” home they love on a smaller scale without breaking the bank. We work with them to get their ideal final result, knowing sometimes it can be a time-consuming process.
What are your customers’ most frequent questions or concerns, and how do you address them?
During the construction phase, customers typically ask about schedules and timing. Most families live in their homes during the course of construction including an extensive remodel.
Initially, their concerns are focused around living in a house that’s half under construction. Communication is key. We keep our clients up to date daily on what will and will not be happening that day or week, including coordinating when we’re able to shut off water, periods of excessive noise, when we need full access to driveways, when concrete is being poured, etc. By keeping them informed, they’re able to plan their lives around the construction and gain some peace of mind.
Describe your customers’ experience when working with you. How has becoming a ProSource Wholesale member changed or improved this experience?
We have two phases of a construction project: design and construction. Construction doesn’t start until we have the project completely designed and the budget is complete around 95%, meaning there may be a few decisions left to be made.
The design phase includes all aspects of the scope, style, use of the space(s), budget and interior feel. We select all finishes and fixtures prior to construction so we have the budgets in place, and are able to order everything up front to avoid reselection due to backorders or discontinued items. The finish and fixture decision process can be overwhelming and time consuming, so the more we have selected up front, the smoother the construction can run.
ProSource provides us with itemized material costs, and allows us to order them at different times during the project. In the design stage, we may have three material options for one room, which is all on our client budget list. We may need to finish up one area in the house before starting another, so this is helpful. We can also take advantage of promotions, and order material we may not need immediately and they will store it for us.
By the time we have our construction contract and start, everything is fully designed and selected which allows the process to run smoothly.
Describe a recent project of which you’re particularly proud. What made it so satisfying?
We are always excited about and proud of all of our projects. We really do take pride in our work and try to go the extra mile with each client to be sure they are pleased, and would call us in the future if needed. Each project is unique and has its own challenges, character, charm and style. When the pieces all come together, we’re as excited as they are.
What’s one piece of advice you would advocate to clients (homeowners) before they begin a project?
Stick with that you like, versus what others suggest to you or what may be trendy at the time (e.g., color, texture, style). You have to live in the space when it’s all done.
We always suggest that homeowners make stops into the showroom early on to get a feel for what they do and do not like to assist in developing their scope, prior to our design input. Using online resources—like prosourcewholesale.com—to compile a palette of ideas for style, spacial relationships and scope is helpful.
Many homeowners come to us with images of projects from online resources that are breathtaking; however, in most cases, they are also substantially higher price-wise than their budget will allow. The expectation to fit all of their wish list items into a mid-range budget can cause frustration.
Start small and increase as you go. Pinterest, Houzz, and HGTV are great but they don’t help to manage budget expectations. Younger generations want to do it all themselves. That can be a cause for concern, especially in the demolition phase where there are load bearing walls to consider.
We both have degrees in architecture which means we bring not just experience, but a great deal of knowledge to every project.
Describe your “dream” project.
We’d love to design and build an equestrian estate—the barns, stone artwork, stalls, house, guest house… all of it. And then own it!
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