Halsey Platt Discusses the CotY Awards; his recent wins with NARI National
Over the years, Groton, Massachusetts-based Platt Builders has earned more than 50 awards and recognitions from various competitions, including the National CotY Awards. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s CotY Awards is an annual recognition program for the remodeling industry.
During the 2016 competition, Platt Builders won in two categories: Residential Detached Structure and Residential Kitchen Over $150,000. Recently, Halsey Platt, the president and founder of the company, and a long-time member of NARI’s Eastern Massachusetts Chapter, spoke with NARI about the residential kitchen project that won a CotY at the National CotY Awards competition. Below is an excerpt of that interview.
Walk us through the Residential Kitchen over $150,000 remodel.
The architect brought me into the project. There was plenty of square footage to work with, so we didn’t have to expand the footprint, but the kitchen was just very much of a pass-through kitchen. All of the traffic that came through the house passed right through the kitchen … and she really wanted it to be a separate space. So the architect said we are going to convert the family room with this beautiful field stone fireplace into the kitchen and we are going to convert the kitchen into the family room center, add a new gas fireplace, center it around that, build some bookcases in to both buffer sound to the dining room and the rest of the house, and also make the room an appropriate scale. We also added a small deck out, because it’s just a wonderful backyard and it did not have a good access to it, accept to go down through the basement. We added a door, which is now off of the family room and the window near the breakfast table to look right out toward that space.
So that’s how the project started. One of the real concerns was the family room because it had five exposed sides; the three walls and the two planes of the roof. It was also very cold, so having a great insulation strategy was important to the project. There was some HVAC issues we also had to fix in the process. When the previous renovation had been done, the contractor did not give any thought to the fact that the kids’ bathroom was directly above the kitchen island and so anytime anyone was using the bathroom, you could hear everything in kitchen. That had to be rectified as well.
What unique elements did you decide to highlight for your project?
The whole window design that replaced the fireplace and the chimney was definitely a key design element. As you can see from the cabinetry, the layout and proportion of those was really quite specific and critical so that, with the completed project, those would all line up. Because of the unique nature of the space, the client hired us to custom build all of the cabinetry. … The lighted cabinets to the right and left of the kitchen sink both have upper flip up doors. We also built the chestnut reclaimed wood top for the middle of the island, we did all of the ceiling coffering in the family room, the mantel piece, and the book cases.
Did you encounter any obstacles during this kitchen remodel?
We definitely had the usual surprises that come as we opened up the existing house. We found the header between the kitchen and the family room to be insufficient to meet current code so we had to replace that while supporting both structures. Also during the process of going through and insulating the existing kitchen, the clients really wanted to save the existing hardwood floors in the original family room for cost saving reasons. We really had to convince the clients that it was worth pulling up the existing finished flooring, so we could then insulate. We used a closed cell spray foam to insulate the rim joists around the structure because otherwise we could not give them a draft free space. So we ended up pulling up all of the flooring in the existing family room, which became the new kitchen, and then pulled up the perimeter plywood and spray foamed the whole rim joists, which was a very significant part of their heat loss for the existing space.
What motivated you to participate in the annual CotY Awards contest?
It’s a fantastic opportunity for remodeling companies to showcase their work in four different ways: First, companies can showcase their work internally to their employees and have an external authority like NARI say you guys do fantastic work. To be able to talk about that with our employees gives them a broader perspective on the quality of the work that we do. That is extremely valuable.
Secondly, it’s really valuable to share those accolades with the design professional that’s involved. Most of our work is architect driven and we love it when we go and submit for these awards and then can share that glory with the architects—they love that. It certainly shows the architects and the design professionals that we are a professional company, we care about the work, and that we are paying respect to the work they did as the designer.
Third, it’s also great for the clients. They really take a lot pride when they win and that is an extremely positive reinforcement after the sale. To get that confirmation from a well-respected industry group that says you’re project really is phenomenal is just a wonderful way to continue that client relationship.
The fourth way is it’s just a fabulous opportunity for local publicity—to put stuff on your web site and to send in an article to the local newspaper. Something that is newsworthy is a great way to keep yourself in the forefront of public’s eye.
How do you determine which projects to enter into the National CotY Contest?
Having built over 1000 projects now—I’ve been doing this for 25 years—we definitely get a sense of which projects are special. … Something like this Residential Kitchen Over $150,000, we knew it was a very likely candidate to win an award because it’s a dynamite space, and it’s a great story.
Who on earth goes and rips out a beautiful field stone fireplace? Well, these guys did and it was just awesome.
So whenever there are those counter-intuitive decisions that get made during the project, and they come out with a fabulous result, you know. Those oftentimes help with projects actually winning.
How have you used your win to market your company?
We publicized it in our local newspaper, and they were happy to pick that up; we posted it to our web site; we sent an email blast out to our contact list, telling everybody about the win; and one of the most fun things is we sent balloons along with a nice note to our architect to let them know. As it so happened, the client walked into the architect’s office later that day and saw the balloons, so it was a fun opportunity for them to all talk about it. Then, internally as we have our monthly meetings, our field carpenters were really thrilled to hear and know about the win. We definitely try to play that up.
Why is it a good idea to enter the CotY Awards?
For any contractor who wants to be a professional organization, it’s critical to enter the awards. It makes you reflect on what you are good at, and what was unique about a particular project. It gives you an opportunity to think about who helped contribute to the success of the project, and it gives you a fantastic opportunity to look forward and be able to market your company and have an outside expert say this is a great company and they build beautiful projects. To be recognized that way in the industry and amongst your peers is great.
What benefits/rewards does your company get for winning the CotY?
Specifically with the CotY, it’s very nice to be able to go to the awards ceremony with the peers that you are out there working with and competing with and be able to have conversations about excellence in the remodeling industry. Over the 25 years that I have been in the remodeling industry, the overall reputation of the industry has improved and I think that the NARI program and the CotY awards has helped to contribute to that. NARI set a standard that everybody can then aspire to and aim for.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
The one thing about this win is that because it is one of the last awards of the night that NARI announces during the awards ceremony, and since it is one of the most coveted awards of the whole program, there’s a really fun adrenaline rush of being there at the awards night and hearing your name called. That really is quite fun and worth the excitement of going to the event.
Don’t wait any longer. Apply Today!
Enter your best remodeling projects into the annual CotY Awards competition.
Visit http://www.nari.org/industry/recognition/coty/ for information on how to enter.