Despite the discouraging state of our economy, Manley Architecture Group has managed to keep a steady stream of business flowing through the door. In business since 1985, Director Patrick Manley experienced several economic recessions impacting the architecture profession.

For example, in the early 1980s, interest rates were high. Residential remodeling and the "new build" industry came to a halt. In the 1990s, due to white-collar layoffs, even places like Muirfield Village experienced hundreds of mortgage defaults that were purposefully kept out of the news at the time. The current economy is causing yet another residential remodeling and new construction slow down.
So how does a small firm stay afloat? How do homeowners find good value for their dollar?

Manley credits his ability to withstand inevitable market fluctuations to several key strategies. By offering expertise in both commercial and residential design, his firm can ride out the residential lows and shift resources to business and institutional projects.

Manley Architecture Group's specialties include health care facilities, which are nearly recession-proof. The aging population in conjunction with key regulatory changes in long-term care, has created a need to replace or upgrade skilled nursing facilities, assisted living and independent living communities throughout the state.

Another key to surviving tough economic times has been to maintain a lean staff. At times, the workload is overwhelming. However, Manley has never laid off or eliminated an employee position in twenty three years due to lack of work. This hard work and dedication to clients pays off for employees in the form of an established quarterly profit-sharing plan not feasible if the company were overstaffed

Identifiably the most important practice at his firm is the policy to look beyond the scope of work and uncover a need the client may not anticipate. Whether it be dropping off an extra set of plans or tracking down a 1920's bathroom fixture to match an existing decor, going that extra mile for the client pays off. There is no substitute for outstanding customer service and attention to detail.

If you are considering a residential project, read on.

In today's economy residential clients are looking for a better deal. Subcontractors are engaged in fierce bidding wars, barely allowing them to cover material costs. Buyer, beware. With the slowdown in new construction, a number of unqualified individuals have entered the more difficult custom remodeling market. Although an attractive cost is the inevitable result of a buyer's market, a low price will result in lower quality work, disappointment and frustration for the homeowner. This ultimately shows up as a home of less value due to poor workmanship and cheap materials. This is the dirty little secret in residential construction when the skilled and high quality builders are squeezed out of the market due to pricing alone.

The bidding and daily construction process can be very overwhelming and stressful However, each is critical to a project's success. Although a prospective client may think the numbers sound like a great deal, often the bids are miserably incomplete. What this translates into for the homeowner are costly change orders and a project that barely resembles what the architect and client envisioned.

For example, Jason Bally of Belt and Bally Builders has seen first-hand the new competition substantially underbid his team to win a job. The end result was financial disaster and emotional turmoil for the unsuspecting customer - a scenario that would never have occurred had they hired Belt and Bally to begin with.

Manley Architecture Group offers design/build services for both commercial and residential work. Using a construction management approach. The bidding process is simplified for the owner and all costs are disclosed in an open book format. Mr. Manley stresses, " It is impossible for a home or business owner to make informed decisions without knowing the cost of each portion of the project. All too often they are presented with a lump sum price only. When the line item costs are disclosed, better and faster decisions result. Expectations are in step with real costs."

"Our people understand, probably because it IS my daily mantra, that when undertake a remodeling project or addition, we are guests in our client's home. It is NOT a construction site. This means all trash, including lunch bags and cups go straight to the dumpster, the floors are swept daily, dust protection is always in place and we work around the homeowner's individual schedule and patterns. Be professional and act professional."

Manley and Bally often collaborate on residential projects. By working closely throughout the entire project, they are able to carefully control costs and produce a superior finished product.

No corners are cut, no design is modified for the sake of a quick fix.

Wading through the murky waters of construction can be tricky. Understanding the bid completely and having clear expectations with your builder is critical. Remember, there is no substitute for exceptional customer service and quality.