Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Who do I call first when planning for a project?

Because design happens before construction, people occasionally think to contact a designer or architect first. However, this approach often produces a design without the cost feedback needed to keep its parameters within budget. In extreme cases, the non-vetted design can become so costly that the project is never built, or requires a total re-design late in the process when pricing is finally provided.

You can avoid this hassle by starting your pre-construction planning with Donatelli Builders. Our estimator and trade partners work as one unified team to provide critical pricing realities from the time of initial design presentation through project implementation and completion. We do this because we strongly believe that access to accurate information from a single source of accountability helps you make educated decisions on an ongoing basis as the design evolves.

Can I stay in my home during the remodel?

This will always be evaluated on a project-to-project basis. Given that remodeling is our specialty, we have learned to work as guests in our clients’ homes, and will be very clear about alternative living arrangements should it be in the best interest of the homeowner. We also carefully consider safety, scheduling and overall cost as a part of the recommendation we ultimately make.

Does Illinois require a General Contractor’s License?

No, all training available to residential general contractors is 100% optional and is only provided by a company if the owners and employees regard it as a priority.

Doesn’t my building department make sure that all work gets done the right way?

No, the building department will oversee and inspect only the major systems of a project (framing, plumbing, electrical, etc.), and they are only required to ensure the minimum standards are met. The quality control process is very different from contractor to contractor. As such, we suggest that a homeowner requests to see the written documents a company uses to ensure all work done is checked at the appropriate phase. If this cannot be produced, the company is likely not serious about quality control.

Do you have your own designers on staff?

No, we feel strongly that the most significant initial design challenge of a one-of-a-kind custom building project is the relationship between the homeowner and the design team. Specifically, the designer must possess the appropriate skills and personality to align with the homeowner’s needs. There is no such thing as the best designer for all types of projects; we don’t believe in limiting our clients to one or two staff architects or designers like many other design/build firms.

For over 24 years, Donatelli Builders has worked with many talented architects and designers. Our ongoing goal has been to identify the best providers based not simply on their ability to design, but also on their ability to collaborate and to support the values reflected in our Diamond Difference.

Are your projects based on fixed lump sump or cost-plus agreements?

Given the diversity of the projects we take on, we evaluate the specific needs of each client to determine if a fixed-price or a cost-plus negotiated fee agreement would be best. After carefully discussing the strong points of each option, we let the client choose based on what they feel is best for them.

Where do you work and what size projects will you take on?

Our geographic area is the city of Chicago, its West and Northwest suburbs, and Southern Wisconsin, including the Lake Geneva Community. The size of the project is not as important as the alignment of values we share with the client. If there is a desire for the process we offer and the results we produce, we consider this a good match and will travel further for a smaller project.

You are welcome to call us directly and discuss your needs; together we can mutually determine if your project would be best served with us as your contractor.