If you have done any research online or even looked at some magazine ads, you will quickly realize that most remodeling contractors and new home builders will claim that they are an “award-winning firm” in the first few sentences. So why do they do this, and more importantly, should this affect your choice in the firm that you decide to work with?
Are All Awards Created Equal?
First, it is important to understand that there are very different reasons why an industry organization will have a competition. Some organizations have a paying member base and when they provide a member with an award, they promote the member and provide some perceived credibility with the public. This is not a bad thing, but may make it pretty easy to win an award and therefore may not demonstrate a notable accomplishment. In other words, you as a consumer should not pay much attention to an award that was issued to a company for simply “showing up.”
At the other side of the difficulty spectrum there are the national and regional awards that are open to every home builder or remodeler in the United States, and there are usually hundreds of applications that the judges have to review. Many times these competitions are sponsored by national magazines or independent organizations that do not have paying members. Think about it like this: would you expect a higher level of competition at the NFL’s Super Bowl, or at a 3rd-grade level flag football game?
The other consideration should be the reason for the award and how that reason relates to your needs.
For example, Donatelli Builders is a design/build company and we are an industry maverick in the sense that we exclusively use fully vetted outside architects, interior designers and kitchen & bath designers as partners on all of our projects when most firms use on-staff designers.
If you are considering a kitchen remodel and your major goal is to simply update your old cabinets and counters, you may be fine with the most novice designer on a company’s staff to assist you with your remodel. On the other hand, if you are getting ready to renovate your entire home that you just purchased in Barrington Hills, and it is critical that your home has a gourmet kitchen with hand-painted, furniture-grade cabinetry and an authentic French Country exterior, the on-staff designers at ABC design/build who won a local town’s “Readers’ Choice” award may not mean much to you.
In this scenario, as a client of Donatelli Builders, you could expect us to introduce you to O’Brien Harris for your kitchen design and Marshall Architects for your home’s architectural needs. Both of these companies have a proven track record with stunning French Country design. If we were limited to a few in-house designers, we would not be able to “right size” the project requirements and select the best possible design firms for each of our projects, which vary in style.
So far this year Donatelli Builders has won a total of six national awards, three from the Chrysalis Awards competition and three from the Qualified Remodeler’s Master Design Awards competition. Here’s the listing of our wins:
2013 Chrysalis Remodeling Awards
- National Winner-Exteriors over $100,000
- Regional Winner-Residential Specialty Item
- Regional Winner-Whole House Remodel $250,000-$500,000
Qualified Remodeler Magazine’s 2013 Master Design Awards
- National Silver-Exterior Facelift
- National Bronze-Kitchens $50,000-$100,000
- National Bronze-Outdoor Living
Because the awards’ categories include smaller specialty projects through whole-house renovations, it shows that our design/build offering is not limited to one niche. It also should reassure our clients that our decision to take the “road less traveled” by working with outside specialists is working well.
So, should you hire a firm based only on awards they have won? I do not think so, but it can be a factor when you know how to drill down a bit deeper and look for wins in the specific areas that are important to you! Do you look closely at a company’s awards before you hire them?