Again this year Guild Quality, a consumer service providing customer satisfaction surveying, performance reporting, and marketing for quality-minded home builders, remodelers, and service providers, has awarded Apex Design Build the Guildmaster Award with Highest Distinction. This is the third year in row that APEX has received the award.
APEX Design Build is excited to share news of being awarded the 2021 CoTY Silver Award. The CoTYs are awarded each year by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) to recognize excellence in a variety of categories including whole house, historical renovation, kitchen, bath, addition, and more. APEX was honored in the Residential Additions over $250,000 category. Awards are judged by experts in the remodeling industry from around the country.
APEX Design Build’s John “JB” Biancini noted “The category for this award was extremely competitive with a number of high-end builders submitting projects. The incredible level of engineering detail and major structural challenges did not go unnoticed by the judges as evidenced by their comments when they chose APEX as an award-winning builder for this prestigious honor. “
JB reflected on the history of quality that is at the heart of APEX Design Build. “Our passion for quality, attention to detail, and constant communication allows us to deliver great client experiences one project at a time. The client requirements and physical challenges presented during this project required The APEX Team to perform at its highest level from the early design stage to the final project completion.”
APEX Construction Management LLC has received the 2021 Guildmaster with Highest Distinction Award from GuildQuality for demonstrating exceptional customer service within the residential construction industry.
To encourage the highest level of customer service, GuildQuality offers two levels of distinction in addition to the baseline Guildmaster Award. Members who receive a recommendation rate between 95.0 and 97.9 percent receive Guildmaster with Distinction. Members who receive a recommendation rate between 98 and 100 percent receive Guildmaster with Highest Distinction. APEX has an overall satisfaction rating of 99 percent.
The Atlanta-based customer satisfaction survey company has offered the Guildmaster Award since 2005 to recognize and celebrate home building, remodeling, and contracting professionals who have demonstrated the highest level of customer service within the U.S. and Canada.
APEX was chosen out of nearly 2,000 residential construction industry businesses in North America who use the Atlanta-based service to survey their clients. GuildQuality considered two metrics in the satisfaction surveys that thousands of its members’ customers submitted: the percentage of customers stating they would recommend the business to a friend and the percentage of customers who responded. To be eligible for the award, APEX needed to achieve a recommendation rate of 90 percent or higher.
APEX President John Biancini accepts award
APEX President John Biancini noted that APEX’s mission is to deliver great client experiences one project at a time and to enhance its clients’ quality of life at home. He cited the award as evidence that the APEX team is delivering on that promise. JB commended Project Manager Matt Grudzielanek, Designer Lisa Stoll, Engineer John Wardell and APEX’s dedicated trade partners for making the award possible.
Contact APEX to arrange a 15-minute video consultation to discuss your own project needs.
Bonnie and Torey literally couldn’t wait to enjoy their new front porch and engage with neighbors after a year of COVID lock down. Long before the snow melted and the crocuses began to sprout, they were spending time out there with their dogs, warmed by mugs of coffee and greetings from neighbors passing by.
The couple had never had a home with a front porch. “We wanted to be able to enjoy the friendly neighborhood atmosphere of St. Louis Park. Our house faces East so we were excited to have coffee and enjoy the sunrise together on the porch before work,” Torey explained.
They also think the project makes the whole house look nicer. “It completely changed our home’s curb appeal for the better. When we bought it a couple of years ago, house looked unfinished. With the porch, it now looks like it was meant to be,” Bonnie volunteered.
When warm weather returns (and stays) they plan to plant a pretty pollinator garden in the front yard and erect bird feeders to enhance the outdoor experience even more.
COVID turned priorities inside out
Bonnie and Torey first contacted APEX about adding a dormer to expand the upstairs living space when they bought the house in the summer of 2019. But they put those plans on hold. “It was a bigger financial commitment than we initially expected, and we decided to take some time to refine our budget and confirm our priorities,” Torey explained. Then came COVID.
“COVID shifted us both to working from home. That gave us more time to optimize our existing space. We also spent more time outside with our dogs than ever before in the spring/summer of 2020,” Torey said.
Bonnie agreed. “After living in the house a while and settling in, our idea of what we really wanted changed. Priority shifted from creating more space inside the house to optimizing the space we already had inside the house and creating a better place to spend more time outside,” she said. That’s when they re-engaged APEX.
“While a low-maintenance backyard deck or patio are great for private relaxation and entertaining, a nice front porch creates an entirely different experience. To see and be seen by neighbors is what many people crave right now,” APEX President John Biancini observed.
Ultimately, APEX did remove a closet to open up the home’s upper level and installed spray foam insulation, drywall and recessed lighting for comfort. It also built a small roof to shelter the home’s side entry. By eliminating the dormer, Bonnie and Torey got their front porch.
Good experience, happy ending
The couple couldn’t be happier. “We love the way everything turned out. The porch is classic and our upstairs finally matches the rest of the house,” Torey said. “We wouldn’t change a thing.”
The homeowners said they will recommend APEX to family and friends. “Every level of the experience was good from planning through project completion. Everyone we dealt with was friendly and all of the work is very well done.”
Grateful for on time delivery
Matt’s ability to stay on schedule was a major plus. Some material delays due to COVID postponed the start of the project. Otherwise, everything was very much on schedule. “Issues that arose were handled quickly. And the project was completed within days of the initial estimate,” Torey said.
With warmer weather approaching and COVID vaccinations up, the porch is going to get plenty of use this summer. We can’t want to see it when the landscaping is done!
Contact APEX President John Biancini here to discuss your own front porch addition.
APEX Construction Management has once again earned the Angie’s List Super Service Award. The 2020 award honors excellence among home service professionals who maintained superior service ratings and reviews on Angie’s List last year. The 22-year-old award is a prestigious distinction that recognizes best-in-class providers. Angie’s said winners demonstrate consistently high levels of customer service from the past year and overall.
APEX just missed the 2019 Super Service Award because a few of its five-star reviews were not recorded until a few days after the cut off. APEX currently has 50 client reviews on Angie’s List, 47 of which are top-rated “A’s.”
“We are grateful to the many clients who share their APEX remodeling experiences on Angie’s List, Guild Quality, Houzz, Google and our own website. No one knows us better. This is a wonderful service to other homeowners who are searching for a reputable contractor,” said APEX President John “JB” Biancini.
Promote for exposure, Perform for recognition
Full disclosure – APEX Construction Management pays Angie’s List a monthly fee to obtain preferred exposure on the platform. This means that more homeowners are likely to consider APEX. However, the fee has no bearing on how clients rate the remodeling experience, which is the basis of the Super Service Award.
APEX promotes its remodeling services on Angie’s List and Houzz.com. They are popular destinations among homeowners who are gathering remodeling ideas and researching contractors. Many new opportunities come from repeat clients and direct client referrals. APEX offers clients a 1 percent bonus when referred projects are completed.
APEX does not purchase leads from Angie’s List’s sister company HomeAdvisor.
“HomeAdvisor charges by contractors by the lead so it overloads consumers with contractors referrals. This wastes everyone’s time,” Biancini remarked. “It’s fine to get a second opinion, but no one needs to be hounded by five contractors for the same job.”
He said the most important thing is to choose a contractor you can trust. “If there is mutual trust, you can solve any problem,” he said. Positive online review are one way to evaluate a contractor’s integrity. You also can get a sense of a person when you meet or video conference during the selection process.
A good fit is as important to APEX as to its clients. “We evaluate clients as much as they evaluate us. In most cases we would rate APEX clients every bit as high as they score us, Biancini said. “We have been blessed with the best clients.”
Please contact APEX to discuss your own remodeling plans.
With a third child on the way, Carlos and Britt knew they were destined to outgrow their St. Paul home. They desperately needed another full bath and bedroom. They contacted APEX to squeeze both into their home’s already tight second floor, preferably without adding a dormer. As soon as designer Lisa Stoll saw the space, she went hunting for an alternative that would satisfy building codes and meet their needs.
It was not possible to add a code compliant shower to the second level without a dormer and that would have exceeded their budget. Rather, she suggested creating three-quarter bath and bedroom in the basement. Matt’s production crews substantially finished the project just before baby #3 arrived.
The project involved cutting into the foundation to install a large egress window and partitioning the area for the new bedroom. [St. Paul requires addition of an egress window whenever a basement with no secondary emergency escape is finished or remodeled.] APEX also demolished an interior masonry wall to make room for the bedroom closet and preserve bedroom space. The bathroom features a large tile shower with a hinged glass door and low curb. The lounge area received Marvin windows and built-in storage.
This project demonstrates the importance of consulting a designer early in one’s remodeling journey, preferably one who is associated with a design-build contractor. “Most people know their wants and needs. But they don’t necessarily see the best solutions, anticipate building code obstacles or grasp costs, Lisa observed. “My job is to listen, bring fresh eyes and draw plans that will look beautiful and work for their lifestyles.”
This project also illustrates the common question: Is it better to remodel my existing home to gain living space or to move to a bigger home? While both remodeling and moving can be costly and disruptive, consider what is possible before planting a For Sale sign on the lawn.
“Our experience is that we can almost always find ways to make better use of space through remodeling and improve our clients’ quality of life at home,” APEX President JB Biancini said. “The real question is whether it will be worth the investment.”
“I pride myself on being straight with people, Biancini continued. “If it really makes more sense to move than to remodel, that’s what I will recommend.”
Carlos and Britt say they love the way their project turned out. They already have recommended APEX to two neighbors and friends who are considering interior and exterior remodeling projects of their own.
“JB and Matt were great partners throughout the project! We really enjoyed working with them both. Matt especially was involved in a lot of our decision making and helped us move through a couple of bumps on the project. We appreciated their commitment to getting tasks done the right way!” Carlos said. “We would highly recommend APEX to anyone thinking of having some home remodeling done. We were most impressed with how accurate their schedule with regards to when tasks would get done, and how quickly it went once we had agreed on the scope of the project / had a start date. They have a strong commitment to customer satisfaction, which we appreciated!”
Contact JB and Lisa to discuss your own remodeling goals.
Chris is from Switzerland, an old-world carpenter’s daughter accustomed to being surrounded by natural wood and clean design. The Forest Lake chalet she and husband Brian bought in 2019 offered big rustic beams and soaring wood ceilings and walls. But the kitchen failed them both aesthetically and functionally.
The range hood was not vented to the outside. Appliances were nearing their end. The island only seated three comfortably. And the cathedral cabinets were dated. Chris imagined a clean, contemporary kitchen where she could cook more efficiently and their three-generation household could gather. But she and Brian also wanted to work within a budget that would include higher end appliances.
APEX Construction Management and designer Lisa Stoll teamed with Chris to create the bright, easy clean, high-function kitchen she envisioned. It features a 9-foot island that seats six, whitewashed wood cabinets with perfectly matched horizontal grain and hardware, dual wall ovens, a vented range hood, granite tops and luxury vinyl tile flooring.
End of Project Snapshots
These are snapshots taken after APEX completed the project. APEX will commission professional photos when Minnesota’s COVID guidelines allow. Stay healthy and safe!
High-end laminate cabinets would have delivered the clean euro look Chris liked and a contrasting wood “rug” could have purposefully filled the gap in the main level hardwood flooring that emerged after the old island and peninsula were removed. Chris and Lisa agreed on custom wood cabinets and LVT flooring to control costs. This tempered the impact of splurges on distinctive lighting fixtures, cabinet hardware and hard-working appliances.
Chris specified that all cabinet woodgrain and pulls run horizontally for a more contemporary look. Although the upper cabinet doors look like they swing up, they actually are hinged from the side. “I wanted horizontal lines everywhere,” Chris explained.
Lisa designed the island cabinet with inverted corners to accommodate stools on both ends and increase elbow room for those in the middle. The big island is Chris’s favorite feature.
“I love it. We have a big family and everyone is able to sit in the kitchen together. We have breakfast and lunch and sometimes dinner at the island,” she said.
Chris also appreciates the double ovens whose height Lisa set for her personal comfort. “I use the ovens a lot and I didn’t want to bend when moving heavy pans in and out,” she explained.
The ceiling posed an unusual challenge because the kitchen extends beyond the upper mezzanine into the towering cathedral area that overlooks the lake. The design features a long, slender LED light bar over the island that is suspended from the two ceiling heights with black cables that virtually disappear. This was important to the couple because they did not want the lake view from the mezzanine to be disrupted.
Selections included Mayfair White granite countertop and island top, Fossil Piombo Hexagon ceramic tile backsplash, Mannington Adura Baltic Stone Storm LVT flooring, Blanco double bowl metallic gray undermount sink, and Delta Essa faucet. Chris chose appliances from KitchenAid and Zephyr.
Although APEX tackled the project during COVID, Chris said she felt crews kept her family safe, cleaned up well and showed respect.
Val had scheduled her initial APEX consult for just after the 2019 Minnesota State Fair because her partner, David, would be too busy parking cars to meet during the event. With thoughts of aging in place together, they wanted to add an accessible main level bath to the St. Paul home.
As planned, APEX would demolish the deteriorating double-decker deck. Then we would build a small addition off the 1916 home for the new bathroom with a curb-free shower, a small mudroom and an expanded basement with an egress window. It was reminiscent of another St. Paul remodel that had earned APEX the 2017 NARI Regional Contractor of the Year Award for additions under $250,000.
APEX completed Val’s addition in June and her stamped concrete patio in July, but David didn’t get to enjoy either. Sadly, he died on May 9. Today, the project stands as a beautiful reminder of a good man. Val loves it.
“There is hardly a day that I’m outside in my yard, when a neighbor doesn’t give me a compliment on the addition or even ask to come in to see it,” Val said.
Interior Designer Lisa Stoll says the project also serves as a poignant reminder that universal design benefits everyone and can look beautiful — and that we never know what tomorrow may bring.
“You don’t have to be older or disabled to appreciate an adjustable hand shower, large curbless shower, shelves that are rated as grab bars, a comfort height toilet and better lighting,” she observed.
John Wardell drew the plans for this APEX addition as he did the award-winning project. A door replaces a window off the back of the house and the sheltered landing is served by dual stairs. Val originally hoped for a little second floor balcony where she could “shake a mop,” but she got a good-sized deck over a flat EPDM roof.
Read Val’s full review here.
When Nancy bought her St. Paul home last fall the three-season porch with its old storm windows was rotting away. She loved the natural light and the natural plank ceiling, and the roof was fine. But she knew she needed to do something about the vertical surfaces. APEX replaced the walls, windows and door this spring, and she recruited her brother to repaint the floor. Now it is her favorite space in the house.
The AZEK difference
The key to the project’s success was the choice of materials, windows and doors. APEX finished the porch with AZEK panels and trim. The cellular PVC material contains no wood fibers so it can’t absorb moisture, rot or suffer insect damage like the old porch. The shell provides UV and scratch resistance. It will never need to be painted.
The windows are triple hung units from Eze-Breeze. The Cabana door also is from Eze-Breeze. They use clear, 10-mil memory vinyl in place of glass. The three panels nest so two-thirds of the the space can be opened for ventilation. Meanwhile, integral screens keep insects out.
After the project, Nancy wrote APEX, “I’m just so pleased. I walked out on the porch on a 37-degree morning after you finished. What a difference the new windows and a door make. I could have a cup of coffee and read the paper with just a tiny electric heater. Unbelievable! Of course, I had to send pictures to my 10 brothers and sisters and got nothing but favorable responses. Matt was so skilled!” Summer was even better.
Small project, big improvement
It is not common for APEX to take on small projects like this, but it made a big impression on this very nice client. At APEX, it’s all about improving your quality of life at home. Contact APEX if we can enlarge or improve your home to help you get through Covid more comfortably.
APEX is sensitive to Covid protocols. Initial consults typically are via video conference after receiving phone photos of the existing space.
Ken and Cindy had served as their own general contractors and did much of the work themselves when they built their Mankato home years ago. But when they moved to Maplewood last year to be closer to their sons, they chose APEX Construction Management to handle the remodel.
Their goal was to annex one of three bedrooms to create a master bath. They also wanted to move the laundry from the basement to the main level. With the limited space available, Designer Lisa Stoll combined the requirements. The former bedroom now pairs a three-quarter bath and side by side washer and dryer.
“The challenge was that the new bathroom would be on the front of the house and they wanted to retain the large window, so wall space was limited,” Lisa recalled.
The new space features a shower with an adjustable-height hand shower. The custom vanity has one sink and a makeup desk. Both the rod for the hand shower and the toilet paper holder double as grab bars.
Suite door features stained glass
While the bedroom itself remained the same size, APEX moved the closet and the door. Ken had a hand in the the project’s most special element. He made the stained-glass panels APEX’s cabinetmaker fitted into the bedroom door.
“I had made the three stained glass panels for a china cabinet in our old house, but I replaced them with clear glass before we left,” Ken explained. “APEX did a beautiful job incorporating them into the master suite door.”
After APEX completed the master suite remodel, the couple had them back to install a backyard patio, just in time for their son’s September wedding.
Kind words for the entire APEX team
The couple had high praise for the entire APEX team. “Lisa understood what we liked. She brought tile and carpet samples. She hit the nail on the head,” Ken recalled.
They credited Project Manager Matt Grudzielanek with keeping the project on schedule and had kind words for his trade partners. “Everyone was friendly and they cleaned up,” he said.
Cindy noted that when JB learned her father had died from COVID during the project, he brought roses to the door. “JB and Matt are good guys,” Ken remarked. “We had a great experience. We wouldn’t have changed a thing.”