Synergy Design and Construction

Synergy Design and Construction

I had the pleasure of meeting Mina Fies, owner of Synergy Design and Construction. She was gracious enough to offer some fantastic advice for homeowners when it comes to renovations.

What is the biggest mistake you see homeowners make when it comes to managing their own renovations?


Having a contractor begin the process before they've communicated the final design and/or purchased all of the materials.  There is enough stress involved when you’re demolishing the existing space and starting to put it back together (particularly when you’re living in the home).  The added pressure of having to make design and material choices can feel overwhelming and is unnecessary with proper planning.  In addition, if you wait to order materials and they become backordered or discontinued, extending the timeline significantly.

If you’re going to manage the renovation on your own, make sure you have a clear plan for what you want, and that you've chosen and ordered most of the material before demolition has even begun.

Synergy Design and Construction

What are some of the hidden costs involved with self-managing a home renovation?

Without a detailed description of what is included (‘scope of work’), there can be a disconnect between what the homeowner thinks they’re getting vs what the contractor thinks they’re providing.

Once work gets started and the homeowner sees something they did not anticipate and asks for a change, the contractor will charge them additional monies for the change.  For example, if a homeowner would like to add recessed lighting in their living room, but the contractor doesn’t ask what size, they’ll most-likely price in builder-grade 6” lights.  When the homeowner later communicates they really wanted 4” lights, the contractor will issue a “change order” for the additional cost.

Trip charges – if a homeowner is sourcing their own materials for the project and they don’t have all the parts necessary for the installation, the trades person will charge them additional monies to come back.  For instance, there are a lot of parts and pieces to plumbing fixtures.  If a homeowner orders something online and everything is not included, they might not know until the plumber comes out to their home and realizes they cannot complete the job.  This of course creates delays in the timeline as well.


What are some of the top "bang for your buck" renovations that a homeowner could consider before they list their home on the market?


1. Replacing outdated brass plumbing and lighting fixtures.  They’re not that expensive to replace, and it helps a potential buyer overlook somewhat outdated spaces.

2. Taking down a wall to create a more “open concept” floor plan.  Depending on the affect this has on flooring, removing a wall (or creating a half-wall) can go a long way towards helping potential buyers feel the space is open and updated.

3. Fresh coat of paint and new or refinished flooring.

What are your favorite TWO ways to change a space without a major renovation?

1. Take down walls (or create half-walls).  It opens up spaces visually and makes a home feel updated.

2. Clear off those kitchen countertops and add a backsplash (or replace an outdated one).  The kitchen is a major component to the house and ensuring it looks clean and fresh is important.

What do you wish you knew THEN about home renovation that you have learned since?

That having a clear design from the beginning is the most important component to a smooth renovation process.  Without it, it’s like leaving on a trip without your GPS.

Tell me a bit about why Synergy Design & Construction is a better choice than the other renovation companies. What makes Synergy stand out?

Personalized service – my husband and I own the company and are intimately involved with every project.  Unlike larger companies, we’re able to focus solely on our customers’ experience from beginning to end with no “hand-offs” from sales, to design, to work crews.  Our entire team – which includes a licensed architect, interior designer, and our field personnel - works together from conception to completion.

Finally, if you could tell homeowners any ONE thing about renovation, what would that be?

Your time is money.  Although it may appear to be a big savings by going with a handyman or trying to manage a renovation on your own, it is often not worth the hassle, stress and aggravation to you and your family.  Let the professionals take care of you and your home while you focus on the important things in your life.


If you're in the market for some renovations at your home, contact Synergy Design and Construction:

11703 Bowman Green Drive Suite 100 Reston, VA 20190 (703) 766.6333 VA License #2705127265 MHIC License #129035