QR’s Master Design Awards: Over Four Decades of Excellence
In 1978, Qualified Remodeler founder David M. Sauer, sought to create a platform to showcase the many outstanding design achievements of remodelers around the United States. His answer was to create a design award program, which debuted in the magazine that fall—Remodeling Designers of the Year.
That first year Fred Case, of Case Construction Inc., (now Case Architects & Remodelers of Bethesda, Md.) swept the best Interior Residential category capturing 1st Place and both runner-up recognitions. One year later Case took first place again, while the Neill Kelly Company of Portland, Ore., took first runner up in the Interior Residential category. With participation from these two industry leading firms—ones that remain so today—the program was off to an auspicious start.
In addition to Interior Residential, there were three other categories in those early days of what was to eventually become the Master Design Awards—Exterior Residential, Interior Commercial, and Exterior Commercial. Today the Master Design Awards receives hundreds of entries across 22 categories. The best way to get a feel for the quality of today’s winning entries is to browse our Master Design Award winners from 2020.
The Master Design Awards categories are:
1) Whole House less than $300,000
Project to affect an extensive amount of the home. May include but is not limited to the following: Interior remodeling of more than one room, exterior remodeling in conjunction with interior remodeling of at least one room, structural improvements, etc. Total project cost must be less than $300,000.
2) Whole House $300,000-$700,000
Same as #1. Total project cost must be between $300,000 and $700,000.
3) Whole House more than $700,000
Same as #1. Total project cost must be more than $700,000.
4) Addition less than $250,000
An addition, add-a-level or attic build-out that increased the livable space of the home. Total project cost must be less than $250,000.
5) Addition more than $250,000
Same as #4. Total project cost must be more than $250,000.
6) Kitchen less than $75,000
Total project cost – including appliances – must be less than $75,000.
7) Kitchen $75,000-$150,000
Total project cost – including appliances – must be between $75,000 and $150,000.
8) Kitchen more than $150,000
Total project cost – including appliances – must be more than $150,000.
9) Bathroom less than $50,000
Total project cost must be less than $50,000.
10) Bathroom $50,000-$75,000
Total project cost must be between $50,000 and $75,000.
11) Bathroom more than $75,000
Total project cost must be more than $75,000.
12) Residential Interior less than $100,000
An interior remodel that does not involve an addition or work done to a kitchen, bathroom or basement and costs less than $100,000
13) Residential Interior more than $100,000
An interior remodel that does not involve an addition or work done to a kitchen, bathroom or basement and costs more than $100,000
A remodel of existing livable basement space, or the finishing of existing unfinished basement space.
15) Outdoor Living (deck/porch/sunroom)
Includes decks, porches, patios, sunrooms and outdoor areas that extend the living area beyond the interior of the home, including pools and landscaping areas that incorporate decks and porches.
16) Residential Specialty
Can include but is not limited to a room remodel that is a children’s playroom, exercise room, gaming room, meditation room, library, home office, trophy/display area, etc. or an architectural element that includes but is not limited to custom windows/doors, archways, lighting fixtures, ceiling treatments, stairways, detailed millwork, custom cabinetry, masonry work, railings, glass block, fireplaces, etc. Does not include off-the-shelf products such as faucets, appliances, etc.
17) Exterior Facelift
Remodels of a home’s exterior only, including but not limited to siding, window replacement, door replacement, roofing, trim, etc.
18) Detached Structure
Can include but is not limited to free-standing garages, sheds, offices, pool buildings, gazebos, etc. A detached structure may not be connected to the home in any way. For example, a covered porch or covered patio does not qualify as a detached structure.
19) Historic Renovation
Any project in which work was done on an historic home.
20) Light Commercial Remodel
Remodel of a light commercial structure can include a residential/mixed-use facility.
21) Universal Design
Any remodeling project with strong aesthetics designed and built to enhance the functionality of those of all ages and abilities living within it.
22) Insurance Restoration
Any commercial or residential insurance restoration project.
Benefits of Entering the Master Design Awards 2021
Beyond the possibility of winning a category, there are many benefits of entering the Master Design Awards 2021.
- Objective Feedback: Regardless of how your entry fares versus the competition, your entry will be scored by two separate judges. They will grade your project on a scale of 1 to 10 in seven design criteria: aesthetic appeal, functionality of the space, attention to detail, handling of unusual challenges, originality, construction technique and overall impression. They will also provide brief written comments. For those of you who are trying to create a culture of continual improvement, design-award feedback creates a helpful objective benchmark to share with your team.
- Peer Judging: Unlike other competitions, where magazine editors and dubiously qualified pundits pick the winners, The Master Design Awards is judged by leading remodelers from around the country. Each is a great designer but they’ve also been in the trenches, selling and completing jobs. The benefits are obvious. You tend to get credit for the little details that otherwise would get little notice. They also see greatness in the solutions to major design or construction challenges.
- Creating the Photography: Entering a project will get you in the habit of taking pictures and hiring photographers if you are not already doing so. The process of entering a design competition imposes needed discipline on your firm. The single most important discipline is that of taking good photos before and after each project. Many of you already know that good images have a way of becoming your calling card online. Think of all of those big, bold hero images that help attract prospects to your websites. Think also of how those images help you on websites like Houzz.com and Porch.com.
- SEO: This is real. When companies enter design-award competitions and win, your images with contact information get posted to our website. The same is true with other competitions. In this age when Google ‘link-back’ algorithms determine how high you appear in search results, these link backs can be magical.
- Winning: There really isn’t anything quite like it. Once your company takes home a CoTY, a Chrysalis or even a Master Design Award, an undeniable benchmark for excellence has been established for your team. You and your team want to repeat it. Awards like these create instant credibility with clients and potential clients. Design awards also create a sense of the real value you deliver through great design, an attribute that often goes undersold.
In remodeling is always the inherent satisfaction of a job well done. But entering the Master Design Awards is a low-risk way to increase they payback of great work. To learn more, go to www.masterdesignawards.com