Our processes

NS Builders is a full-service Home Builder. We help homeowners build the very best home that they can. Our commitment to quality starts with our people, and we make sure everyone that works for or with us believes in doing only the best work. While our focus is full home renovations and new custom homes, we are happy to discuss smaller-scale projects. We care more about our relationships than the size of a project.

We are a General Contractor with a team of Project Managers, Assistant Project Managers, Lead Carpenters, Carpenters, and Apprentices. We are also Cabinet Makers. With a team of Cabinet Makers and Fitters, we can bring true custom millwork and cabinetry to keep cohesion in all of our renovations and builds. Our range of staff allows us to focus on the smallest of details, while always looking at the bigger picture. We engage our whole team throughout the project to make sure our commitment to quality is met at every level.

 

Initial Consultation

We start the conversation on our website. Filling out our contact form is the best way to get the ball rolling, and also helps keep us on the same page throughout this process.

We begin with pre-construction. First, we bring the client and design team together to develop the design and dial in the budget. Once we have a pre-construction retainer, we begin the Proposal Phase to develop an accurate construction budget followed by a construction schedule. We follow up with a phone call to discuss the project and find out if we’re the right fit. We will tell you about us, how we operate, similar projects, potential costs, and see if our schedules align. Our goal here is to make the best use of your time. We want to help you quickly figure out if your budget and time frame aligns with us for your project. 

Most builders choose a start date assuming they understand how long the project will take. The end date is more important than the start date, so instead, we reverse engineer the process. 

You are working with the owner, Nick Schiffer, during this process.

 

Pre-Construction

When budget, schedule, and general scope align, we begin the pre-construction process. Before the start of construction, we work with the Architect and Interior Designer to keep the budget in line as the design unfolds. We set a target budget and help keep that target as we plan out the design. While we work with our trade partners, vendors and staff to begin pricing the project, we will most likely schedule site visits to review existing conditions. We then create a budget proposal with a mix of hard priced items, things that we can commit costs to, and allowances which may vary pending actual conditions once the project begins. 

At this point in the process, we take a retainer for these services; cost is dependent on the project and applied to our construction management fee when we begin construction. We track and bill hourly for this portion of the process, setting a target amount of hours. 

Here, you are working with the owner, and potentially one Project Manager.

 

Pricing & Design Finalizing

We host a meeting with the Homeowner and Architect to present our budget proposals, in line with the design proposals. Depending on where the design and budget end up, we may offer multiple proposals to show a variety of options to control costs. You will understand how we have engineered value for the project to fit within the target budget, and how it impacts the design. The importance of this is to understand potential opportunities. If we find any choices that could bring the homeowner significantly more value, we make sure you have a chance to explore those options. 

In renovations, we suggest and include a 10% contingency in the budget. This money is set aside for unforeseen conditions or changes to scope. While we’re communicating these costs, we don’t increase the budget, and draw these changes from the 10% “contingency fund”. This helps significantly in the beginning of construction when we spend a great deal of time uncovering the old, to understand how we will build the new. 

The timeline of this process is largely dependent on the overall size of the project, the homeowner's decisions, and team (Homeowner, Architect, Builder) collaboration.

You are working with the owner, and possibly one Project Manager at this point.

 

Construction

At the beginning of construction the design should be complete, and all selections should be made. It is important for us to be fully equipped at this point, so we can begin preparing the project for the end result. For example, knowing the tile selection early on allows us to prepare our framing and mechanical roughs to be coordinated with the tile layout.

Being intentional with our design is extremely important to our company and our brand. We do everything we can to help the relationship between architect and builder, and the homeowner's decisions. 

During construction, your project will be assigned a Project Manager, who works on-site and holds weekly meetings with the team back at the office. Each of our Project Managers may work  on a handful or fewer projects at a time. Their time is tracked per Project and billed accordingly. We budget this number during the design phase to understand how much time will be necessary. 

Our carpentry team is made up of lead carpenters, carpenters, and apprentice carpenters. The Lead Carpenter is the hands-on site supervisor who reports directly to the Project Manager. The Lead Carpenter and Project Manager work together on a daily basis. The Lead Carpenter is also responsible for overseeing the Carpenters and Apprentices. They are the muscle behind the carpentry work on-site, from early stages of framing to the fitting of finishes at the very end of the project. The carpentry team will be assigned to multiple projects and only be on-site when necessary, billing hourly to the project they assigned to that day. 

We carry allowances in the budget for things like general labor and materials. These are line items to cover things like site organization, cleaning, taking deliveries, and anything else that does not fall within the carpentry scope of work. This helps the project move along with safety, organization, and cleanliness.

Changes to the scope of work will be captured in a formal change order process. Any additional work outside of the proposal can be discussed verbally or through emails, but it must be documented through a Change Order. The Change Order may or may not have a cost associated with it, but it will impact the schedule. It is important to understand that changes to the work will always impact the schedule.

Quality control is our highest priority. We self-perform most of the carpentry and millwork, and closely monitor our qualified subcontractors to ensure all other work meets our standards and timeline. We work repeatedly with many of our contractors, and we consider them a part of our team and family at work!

We treat our homes with respect and prioritize keeping the site clean. We always treat the site as if the homeowner is going to walk the job every day at lunch. We take a great deal of pride in the homes we build and show the same pride throughout the process.

Before cleaning, we perform a walkthrough with the architect and homeowner to catch any final tweaks and make sure your home is perfect. After cleaning, we take care of permitting and payment and then you are free to move into your new home. We offer a 2-year warranty, outlined in our warranty documents. We also offer Extended Home Care, where we keep your home maintained for its whole life.

During construction, daily communication is constant. We collaborate with all onsite staff members to make sure the project progresses as planned. You will work directly with the Project Manager(s), Assistant Project Manager, Accounting Dept., and Owner, while also being introduced to the entire carpentry team.

 

Millwork

As Custom Home Builders and Renovators, we also are proud to be Cabinet Makers. We have a Cabinet Shop and are responsible for the Millwork inside your home. We help develop the design, fabricate and install all the cabinetry with our Millwork Team of Makers and Fitters. Working with us means you are getting something incredibly custom and unique.

Often times we are asked if we will work with other millworkers. To us, our warranty and who we are as craftsmen is our brand. While we respect a long list of other makers, we have made the decision to be all-inclusive with our process. 

In the millwork process, you will work with the Project Manager(s), Assistant Project Manager, Millwork Director, and the Owner.

 

Software

We use a system called BuilderTrend it is a user-friendly software with an amazing client interface. Anything job related is tracked on this platform, and you can check in from a computer or a personalized App on your phone. 

The program is optional, but it will allow you to get a detailed, up to date view of your project.

Some of the key features:

    • Job-specific email messaging allowing one place for all project emails to be stored.

    • We track daily what happened, who was on-site, and key photos. Each Friday we go over this with the client, sharing photos, a description of what happened that week, and a projection for the following week.

    • Your budget is available to review with live information submitted on a daily basis. 

    • The schedule is updated weekly and is available to review live.

    • Change Orders are issued, stored and tracked here.

    • The selection process is also available to use for finalizing.

    • Specifications and Drawings are kept here.

    • The app is also used to communicate warranty requests.

 

Punch List

Our Punch List is simple:

    • We create our initial Punch List before the end of the project to catch all minor issues. 

    • We schedule a meeting with the architect and owner, to review this Punch List and add items that come up during that meeting. This meeting Is held onsite between Homeowner, Architect, and Builder, walking through the project entirely. 

    • We create a formal Punch List with target completion dates, once all items are agreed to be complete final payment is due. Any additional items shall be handled during the warranty period.

 

Warranty

Our warranty is active once the final payment is made and includes 2-years on all workmanship. Our product warranty is per product, and we will help facilitate the warranties for these products.