QUESTIONS
AND ANSWERS

Choosing a builder can be daunting, so the first piece of advice we’d offer is to find a partner who’s willing to answer your questions. That willingness to listen and provide thoughtful responses says a lot about how committed a company is to customer service. 

Since Mediterraneo began in 1991, we’ve answered thousands of questions from prospective customers, existing clients and building partners. Below, you’ll find answers to the more common questions about selecting and working with a design/build team. To keep things simple, we first address questions of a general nature, ones that should hold true whomever you choose. Next, you’ll learn about what it would be like to work with Mediterraneo.

If you still have questions after you’ve reviewed these pages, we would be pleased to speak with you and provide clear and concise answers, at no charge. Simply phone 650-368-1361. You may also inquire online at info@mediterraneodesignbuild.com.

How does one select the right residential building partner?

Selecting any business partner is a complicated process that requires time, persistence and discipline. Homes are, after all, our nests. But it’s important to be as cool-headed as possible when making a decision of this magnitude. If you have friends who’ve built or remodeled recently, by all means use them as a resource. When choosing a builder, it’s essential that you feel comfortable with their experience, the quality of their work and their management style. Our complementary primer on choosing a building partner goes into greater detail.

What should I expect from the initial meeting/consultation?

This is your first opportunity to learn about the company. This first meeting should be at the project site to discuss goals and objectives, review typical project phases and key processes, establish budget parameters, and start preliminary design discussions. Above all, this first meeting should give you a good feeling about the people you meet. Do they answer your questions? Are they speaking to you or at you? Do they make sure you understand their explanations or just leave you buried in a blizzard of buzzwords? Trust your gut.

What is the best way to check on quality and workmanship?

Ask for references from previous clients and then be sure to visit some of their completed projects. Seeing the work is important because a glowing reference is worth more if it describes superb craftsmanship. Also ask the homeowner if the company guaranteed its workmanship for at least a year after project completion—and delivered on that promise.

How should the bid process work?

It’s like comparison shopping. Get multiple bids and be systematic when comparing them. Are the same items present in each bid? Ask as many questions as necessary to insure that you understand them, and how they differ. Be as objective as possible when trying to evaluate why prices vary and by all means, when in doubt, ask. (In most cases, the skill of the workers and the quality of building materials are key price determinants.) Expect quality bids to be very detailed. In sum, don’t just settle for the lowest price—search for the best value.

How do I verify a company’s credentials?

Obtain copies of all the necessary insurance coverage, licenses, etc. You can also check their reputation by visiting the Contractors State License Board. That site is immensely helpful: it lists all the different licensing classifications and works hard to educate consumers and help them make informed choices.

What should take place in the final meetings before I choose a builder?

Make sure you have answers to all your questions; if not, get them in this meeting. If your various bids are close, then your comfort level with the people whom you’ve met probably matters most in making your final decision. You are going to be working closely with these people for quite a while and, at times, you’ll need to work through thorny issues together. To be sure, you are paying for an end product, but you are also going to be engaged in a process that you will remember for a lifetime. So make it positive.

What key components should be in my contract to protect me?

The items below should be clearly and completely covered in a contract, but they are by no means an exhaustive list. To protect your interests, have a lawyer experienced in construction contracts review yours before you sign it.

  • Contractor Contact Information
  • Payment Schedule
  • Permits
  • Change Orders
  • Product Details
  • Warranties
  • Promises
  • Work schedules

The questions above are answered in greater detail in our complementary primer, How to Select the Right Builder.

Given your name—Mediterraneo—do you specialize in Mediterranean style houses?

No, it is just a name, although one we’re proud of. We have experience working in all architectural styles, from Craftsman to Mediterranean to Modern.

What types of projects and services does MDB provide?

We provide a wide range of residential building capabilities, especially those that meet the particular demands and unexpected surprises inherent in remodeling projects. But perhaps our greatest strength is partnering with talented design professionals.

Because MDB has offered design services in-house for many years, design is in our DNA. Consequently, we understand its supreme importance in a design-build project, and have since developed synergistic relationships with a pool of highly-respected architects, all of whom we can heartily recommend. This model accommodates a greater variety of need, range of style, and personal fit; an adaptive evolution from where we started.

Our building expertise is similarly broad and deep in both new construction and remodeling. Given our design-build background, we are singularly well-positioned to manage all aspects of a project, including those which incorporate green technologies.

What is design-build?

Depends on who you talk to. Perhaps you’ve visited other design and build websites and found that most define themselves simply and solely as an end-to-end provider of design and construction services.

That is an approach with which we’re entirely comfortable. Still, our version of “design-build” is somewhat more robust, because we have offered design services in-house for many years. Consequently we speak the language of design, understand the design process and have a healthy respect for its singular importance in the overall home building experience.

There’s no arguing with the clarity that accompanies a single point of contact. Nonetheless, we believe that true design-build involves much more. It is this distinction that makes us uniquely qualified to help turn smart designs into enduring homes.

What are the key benefits of design-build services offered by one company?

  • Single point of responsibility and contact
  • Accountability for cost of construction during design phase
  • Simplified communications
  • Time savings
  • Early knowledge of actual costs
  • Higher quality
  • Cost effectiveness of design/build solution

What design services do you offer?

Our design services are custom tailored to individual client involvement. Some clients choose to be very intimate with the design process and others prefer that MDB provide a turn-key solution with regular weekly updates. Similarly, before recommending an architect, we strive to clarify our clients’ long-term needs, aesthetic preferences and budgetary realities.

If we have an architect already, can you do the construction only?

Absolutely! One of our key strengths is our ability to work successfully with a wide variety of architects. In fact, we are often recommended to future clients by our architect partners.

Who will be working on my residential building project?

Each project is assigned to a Project Manager/Supervisor who will be your primary point of contact with MDB. All other labor, vendor and subcontracting resources will be assigned by the Project Manager based on the skills required, issues of timing and availability and, of course, competitive pricing to insure your project is completed on time and within budget.

What happens if something unexpected comes up?

Oh, you can count on The Unexpected showing up. It’s as much a part of construction as tool belts and tape measures. No one knows what they’ll find when opening up a wall, for example. But unexpected events don’t have to be terribly stressful if you’ve got cool hands running the job, as we do. On average, our crews have more than a decade of experience under their tool belts. As with everything else, our approach is to be open, honest and fair. We will explain clearly the construction issues involved, why they were a surprise and how best to resolve them so that we can get back on track as quickly as possible.

Can I live in my home during construction?

This one is tough to generalize about. Staying in your house during construction depends on the nature of the project and the preferences of the client. If it’s necessary to replace a foundation, tear off a roof or disrupt plumbing or electrical services for sustained periods, it is probably unwise and likely unsafe for you to live on the premises. (It may be illegal, too.) If the construction disruption is limited, however—say, a kitchen remodel—we can probably set up a temporary kitchen arrangement if you need to stay put. Besides, we pride ourselves on our good housekeeping. We always keep job sites clean and will protect existing areas of the home with plastic and/or temporary walls and doors if need be. The bottom line is, we’ll work with you to accomodate your preferences and meet your particular needs.

Why is MDB sometimes more expensive?

This is a question we ask ourselves on every project. Especially in today’s economy, we have to scrutinize each line item to stay competitive. And the pressures to cut corners, lowball bids and eke out some semblance of profit with change orders later on… are enormous.
But we’re just not built that way. 

We are committed to building it true. Constructing homes with quality materials and an exacting eye to detail. We use top-notch subs and materials we can trust and rely on. If the specs call for solid-core doors and polished brass lock assemblies, then that’s what you’ll get. Even the wires hidden in your walls or your service panel must be done just so, in an orderly and meticulous manner, even though it’s unlikely you’ll ever see them. That level of craft tends to cost a little more but will always result in a better, more durable product. Our bids and estimates reflect that. In a word, they’re honest.

And, as we’ve emphasized throughout this website, the end product is only part of our services. You are also hiring professionals who can communicate effectively, understand and respond to your concerns, manage the project so that it comes in on time and on budget and, in all ways, turn your vision into a beautiful and enduring home. We don’t just build it and build it well, we manage it well. Building or remodeling a home can be one of the most ambitious, most satisfying things you’ll ever do. Sure, we hope you love the house. But when your home is once again quiet and the trucks are long gone, we want you to recall and savor the process as well.

If something concerns us, whom do we call—Mediterraneo or our architect?

Technically, that depends whom you choose to manage the project. But we pride ourselves on our flexibility and ability to find working solutions—many times, to solve issues before they become problems. So feel free to call either of us because, as far as we’re concerned, there’s only one team. And only one goal: your complete satisfaction.