“We have used Potter Construction for two home remodel jobs.  We are most please with the results.  Their employees were efficient, knowledgeable and friendly.  It was a pleasure working with them in our home.  We’ve heard many horror stories about remodeling and we are most grateful that we used Potter Construction.”
– Dick & Donna Clarke

At Potter We Believe That Knowledge Is Key.

Gary Potter has been a Seattle builder for 30 years; his commitment to education, service, and excellence steers the company philosophy and business model for Potter Construction. Gary and his team love sharing their knowledge with clients and seek to partner with clients to create a smooth and comfortable building experience.

Through clear communication and regular meetings, Potter Construction aims to simplify the complex decision-making process and support clients to make informed decisions.

Recommended Remodeling Tips

Know Your Remodeler

Many of our clients are anxious to learn all they can about the home remodeling process before embarking on their project. This is understandable and admirable. A remodeling project is exciting, can have a positive impact on a family’s quality of life, and is potentially an excellent financial investment.

A good place to begin the education process is with the remodeling contractor. Customers who understand the remodeler’s motivation and approach to the work will be better equipped to select a remodeler that suits their personality and project.

This is not a mysterious or complex undertaking—remodeling contractors are just business people. We possess skills that lend themselves to home improvement just as you apply your expertise to your chosen profession. Like many others, we want to earn a living doing something we’re good at and are passionate about, as well as leave some positive mark on the world.

As business people, we are interested in making money honestly by providing an excellent product at a fair price. Professional remodelers accomplish this goal by preparing business plans, understanding and adhering to client expectations, and establishing strong and reliable partnerships with suppliers, lenders, and subcontractors. We live in the communities in which we work and therefore rely on our local reputations to sustain our business success.

As with any business, some remodeling contractors lack adequate business and communication skills to be successful, at least in the long term. Those human deficiencies—not intentional deceit—are the root of most horror stories about dissatisfied customers. Only a very small percentage of remodelers act badly, and they are often (and increasingly) ferreted out and exposed by various regulatory and industry certification standards that continue to improve the reputation and professionalism of the industry.

Professional remodelers—those with both the trade and business management skills—work hard to avoid misunderstandings and miscommunication with their clients. That effort is sometimes challenging. Unlike other industries, construction work is exposed and open as it progresses and takes place in the full view of the client. What may appear to be incomplete or a mistake might simply be an unfinished phase of the project.

As a homeowner and potential remodeling client, it is critical to remember that contractors are engaged in the remodeling process every day, year after year, developing a solid sense of daily progress and a vision for how the project will finish to their client’s satisfaction. Homeowners, on the other hand, may go through the remodeling process only once, and so don’t get to develop that long-term perspective.

Successful remodeling professionals recognize the difference between their experienced perspective and the untrained eyes of their clients. They bridge that gap by respecting a homeowner’s questions and providing clear and satisfactory answers. They understand the significant emotional investment and the financial risk undertaken by their clients, and they work hard to calm fears and debunk myths.

Informed homeowners, in turn, must understand that remodeling is all in a day’s work for a contractor. When both you and your remodeler respect each other’s role and approach to the project, it creates a greater opportunity to foster open communication, build trust, and achieve a successful and satisfying project.

Warm regards,

Gary Potter
Potter Construction, Inc
5606 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98136
(206) 935-9696 – phone

[email protected]

Planning Before Construction

On time, on budget, and exceeding customer expectations starts with a thorough preconstruction plan.

To finish a complex project on time and on budget, the Professional Remodeler must have a thoughtful, thorough and well-developed preconstruction planning process. It can feel like a slow way to start, but the time spent upfront pays off in more ways than some homeowners realize.

Despite its importance, planning is one of those success factors that gets too little credit. Most homeowners understand that the project must be completed on paper before work starts, but not all of them realize the full extent of the prep work involved. This work goes well beyond blueprints. Read more...

For a project to come off without major problems, the remodeler must plan every detail and activity for every stage of the project. The right materials and products have to be in place at the right times, workers and subs must be ready to go when needed, and contingency plans have to be created for weather and other obstacles. The more detailed the plan, the smoother the workflow and the faster the job will get done. This is especially important if the homeowners will be living in the house during construction.

Such planning may be relatively simple for a small project like a new deck or bath facelift. But the details that need to be tracked for a major renovation can be staggering and can include hundreds of colors, components, finishes, and model numbers. The absence or presence of specific words in the plans and specifications can dramatically change estimated costs, finished appearances, and scheduling. Calculating and determining correct quantities, costs, and delivery times for all these items demands real organization. A decision made today will determine whether the right personnel and materials are on the job a month or two from now.

The plan must also consider bureaucratic entities such as zoning boards, architectural review committees, and homeowner associations. A good plan will ensure that their rules are taken into account during every step of the project.

Then there are communication issues. A large-scale remodeling project has much in common with a relay race, where the baton gets passed between participants at key points. The most crucial of those happen during the planning phase when a lot of information has to be passed intact from the salesperson, to the designer, to the production manager or lead carpenter. A professional remodeler will have a management system that makes sure these transfers happen smoothly and accurately.

Someone on the remodeler’s staff must also confirm that key details are communicated to all members of the project team—homeowners, architect, interior designer, project manager, contractor—at the right time. This person must also ensure that everyone on the team understands their own, and everyone else’s, responsibilities.

A project that starts with this type of detailed planning stands a much better chance to come in on time, on budget, and with minimal stress. By taking the time up front to think through all the details, the remodeler can ensure the best possible outcome for the homeowners. The ultimate benefit of this is a finished project that reflects the vision of the homeowners, and a sense of pride and satisfaction for all who had a hand in completing it.

Warm regards,

Gary Potter 

Surviving A Room Addition

No one likes to think about having to “survive” anything, and certainly not a remodeling project. But in our experience as professional remodeling contractors, we’ve come to learn and advise our clients that there will be ups and downs with every project. It’s our job to minimize stress and flatten out inevitable emotional peaks and valleys.

Room additions are often the most complex and time-consuming types of remodeling projects. The scope of work on these projects makes stress management especially important.

Consider, for example, the impact of removing an entire roof to accommodate a second-story addition, or displacing a kitchen to add an adjacent family room. A family’s day-to-day life can be impacted for several weeks. That doesn’t mean, however, that the payoff isn’t worth it … especially if client and contractor work together to manage the project and minimize stress.Read more...

To help our homeowners cope, we take time to go over the entire scope of the remodel before we sign a contract. We work with our clients to identify and rectify “pinch points” that might cause anxiety. We’ll find out how we can be as unobtrusive as possible. We’ll find out the best time to start in the morning and explain how we’ll control dust and boot prints from getting past the construction zone. We work hard to accommodate the sensitivities of our clients and reduce the amount of intrusion—and related stress—they feel.

We find it useful to sit down with all members of the household to discuss the project, address any potential impact, and map out responsibilities and concerns. It also helps to plan contingencies, such as temporary cooking or sleeping areas, and make those spaces as comfortable and “normal” as possible. The goal is to create a partnership—between our company and family members—so that everyone feels connected to the project and excited and committed to the ultimate goal.

We also advise homeowners to prepare their neighbors. A room addition project often requires several tradespeople, as well as our crewmembers, which can limit street parking. It is helpful to let your neighbors know what’s coming, the time frame for completion, and our daily start and stop times. It might also be a nice gesture to invite them to an open house when the project is done to show them your new space and thank them for their support.

The most important stress reducer by far is effective communication. We make it a point to set up regular meetings throughout the project to discuss progress, make decisions or selections, and address any concerns. It is incumbent on both contractor and client to keep those lines of communication open, honest, and respectful. If there’s a problem that crops up between scheduled meetings, we can usually tackle it right away, keeping everyone’s stress level in check … and our clients out of “survival” mode.

Warm regards,

Gary Potter
Potter Construction, Inc
5606 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98136
(206) 935-9696 – phone

[email protected]

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Potter Construction’s Resourceful Newsletters

Three times a year, Potter Construction publishes and mails a printed newsletter to all of our customers in the Seattle area. A bit different from our e-newsletter, these print publications offer detailed tips and information on renovating your home, plus specific examples and photos of our past remodels. They are a great resource for learning about additions and remodels.

A few weeks after the print newsletters go out, we also post them here. Each newsletter is in PDF format, so they can be easily read or downloaded using Adobe’s free PDF Reader. Just click the link below and enjoy!

Why Is It So Hard To Estimate What My Project Will Cost?

Have you ever wondered, “Just how much will the remodel of my dreams cost?” If so, you’re not alone. At Potter Construction, we often get calls from people wanting to know how much it would cost to remodel their kitchen or bath, or add an addition to their home. Unfortunately, it is just not possible to provide an estimate until we have a lot more information. Accurately estimating a remodel is tricky for a number of reasons:

First, your project is unique. So we can start with a general estimate based on other similar remodels, but the specifics you have in mind can significantly affect the cost.

Second, there are many steps involved in a great remodel. Your total cost is a combination of estimates for everything from design, construction, plumbing, electrical and finish work (just to name a few). Read more...

The third factor in estimating remodel costs (and one that can have a big effect on final cost), is the selection of materials, appliances and finishing touch items that reflect your personal style and taste.

The fourth and final factor is the existing condition of your home. Everything from how it was built, to how difficult it is to access construction areas such as basements or crawl spaces, can affect the cost of the remodel.

Thankfully, with Potter Construction’s start-to-finish design/build process, you’ll know exactly what your remodel or addition should cost long before the first carpenter walks through your door! 

Benefits Of Design/Build

Why choose a design/build firm instead of hiring an architect or designer, plus a separate contractor or contractors, to get your addition or remodel done? Lots of reasons! Here are the top 5:

  • Construction stays within your budget because our designers are very familiar with the actual build cost of each remodel. So you get drawings, plans and a projected cost all at the same time. You don’t end up with a design you love, only to find out it costs three times as much to build as you had planned.
  • You save time and hassle by having everything done under one roof. Why interview, hire, and coordinate separate architects, designers and contractors if you don’t have to?
  • The remodel process is quicker and more flexible because you can work on several facets of your project at the same time. For instance, while the building permit is being approved, you are busy picking out doors, windows, and appliances. Plus items with long lead times can be ordered ahead.
  • The Certified Kitchen Designers (CKD) and Graduate Remodelers (CGR) at Potter Construction have a lot of additional training, and specialize in redesigning homes to meet your lifestyle needs.
  • With just one point of contact, and one firm taking responsibility for the success of your entire project, you can enjoy peace of mind from start to finish!

7 Ways To Get Your Next Remodel Off To A Smooth Start

Any time you decide to remodel or build an addition, the endless list of options and choices can quickly become overwhelming. Luckily, a little forethought and guidance goes a long way towards making the remodel process a pleasurable one. Here are eight helpful tips from Roshele Allison, Potter Construction’s Senior Designer, that are sure to help get your next remodel or addition off to a smooth start.

It’s important to think about more than just how your new space is going to look. In order to create an addition or remodel you’ll love to live in, you have to think about how it’s going to be used too.

Consider your remodel budget first, and then material choices. Read more...

Once we know what you can afford, we can design something that fits your budget and your needs.

Upgrades are the number one reason why remodels get more expensive. If you are on a really tight budget, remember that everything extra you add—nicer countertops, a fancy stove, a specialty faucet—also adds dollars to your total cost.

Don’t forget about the sales tax. You can write off some of that, but at 9% in Seattle it can add up fast.

Bring in lots of pictures. We need to take what’s in your head and wrap our minds around it. So the more details you can give us, the less time we have to spend refining your design, and the less it will cost you.

Be open to considering a variety of options up front. Sometimes there is a better way to meet your needs, or you may discover other ideas you like more.

Remember, there is a reason why you hired professionals like Potter Construction for your remodel. You’re paying for our years of experience and professional expertise, so take advantage of them by asking questions and listening to our advice. 

5 Trends In Bathroom Remodels

  • If you share your bathroom and have the space, install a second sink. You’ll enjoy a lifetime of convenience for just a few hundred extra remodeling dollars.
  • If you’re installing a new tile floor, add cozy electric heating underneath. It only costs about $1,200-$2,000 and is a delightful way to enhance the resale value of your home, especially in the cooler Seattle climate.
  • These days, a soaking tub is a must-have in any bathroom remodel. Just be sure to invest in jets or a heater to keep the water warm. It’s no fun to soak in a lukewarm tub, and retrofitting is very expensive.
  • Looking for the ultimate in luxury? Install a double-sided fireplace that can be enjoyed from the bedroom and the master bath!
  • Frameless glass shower enclosures are the perfect way to show off custom tile work and make a unique design statement. Plus they have a clean, open, modern look.

What Is The “Kitchen Work Triangle”?

Studies have shown that kitchens function best when the sink, fridge and stove are positioned in a triangular formation, specific distances apart. So if you were to draw a line from one to the next, they would each sit at one point of a triangle, with no one side of the triangle longer than 9 feet. This is called the  “kitchen work triangle,” and it forms the design foundation for any good kitchen remodel.

10 Tips To Take The Stress Out Of Your Kitchen Remodel

Any time you remodel your home, you’re basically turning your home into a worksite—complete with trucks, construction crews and that famous construction dust. Thankfully, a little preparation and ingenuity can make the remodel process much less stressful. Seattle builder Potter Construction has gathered these tips from 30 years of construction experience to make your kitchen remodel go more smoothly.

  1. Be prepared to pack—everything in your kitchen cabinets needs to be boxed up before construction starts (and don’t forget to label the boxes for easy unpacking).
  2. Set up temporary cooking quarters by moving the refrigerator, toaster oven, coffee maker and microwave to another room.