A Q&A with Factor Design Build's Josh Fiester

We sat down with Founder and CEO of Factor Design Build, Josh Fiester, to hear what sets them apart.

Learn more about Factor Design Build here.

Tell us a little bit about Factor Design Build. When did you start Factor and what was your vision in starting the firm?

We started 5 years ago with the vision of creating a design build company that truly was able to do high-quality high-end design with construction services because that’s a real gap in the market. We wanted a business that was fun and rewarding to be a part of. My partner and I have both worked for larger companies and seen the culture not be the priority to what’s going on and we wanted a workplace where we and our employees were excited to go there. So it was really important for us to create a culture that emphasized the employees and their happiness so that they can, in turn, take care of their clients. 

There’s an opportunity for people who want mid-sized projects and they deserve super high-end design and high-end construction services, but there aren’t a lot of people servicing that mid-range. There’s a lot of people at the bottom and a couple people at the top, but the people in the mid-range don’t end up getting the best service. They’ve got people trying to fake it up and fake it down, but neither one of those works out that well. 

Successfully combining form (design) with function (build) and executing them both at a high level is very difficult and eludes most design build firms. Most excel at either the design or the build, but not both. How has Factor been able to achieve a high level of both design and build?

It’s simple for us. We find incredible designers and we hire them. We find incredible project managers, estimators, people that are unique and have unique skills in their own individual areas and we hire them. So instead of having just a couple people fake different areas, which is what design build typically is – where you have an owner of a company saying, “Oh I can design!” Or you have an architect owner who says, “Oh I can do construction!” Well, no, you can’t. So, what we really do is aggregate great people and we put them together. What’s special about Factor is our priority to putting together good teams and really making sure that we have excellent architects and interior designers that would stand on their own in their respective fields.

I think the biggest thing about Factor is that we know that not everyone is going to be good at everything and we make sure we hire individual experts instead of trying to create a bunch of generalists.

Check out our feature on one of Factor Design’s projects infused with hygge here. Photos by Kimberly Gavin.

Describe a perfect project for Factor Design Build?

A perfect project for us is when a client is engaged in and values our process and get really excited about their home and what it could be.

Like the client says they’ve lived in a house for 10 years and hates the kitchen but wants to live in the home forever. Maybe they say they’re big chefs who make paella every week and want to make sure they have a place for their paella dish that say is from one of their grandmothers. It’s that type of stuff where they’re super into it and they’re very engaged and want to follow our process.

What are the most important advantages to work with a design build firm versus hiring a separate design firm and separate build firm?

It’s all about accountability. We’re all on the same team trying to get the client their end goals. The architect, the interior designer, the builder, the estimator, the carpenter…everybody knows the project’s intention from the beginning and are all engaged in trying to achieve their goals. There’s so much accountability because there isn’t anybody else to blame. I take all the credit, all the blame. You know I always say, “There’s one throat to choke, one butt to kick, one back to pat,” because that’s true.

There’s nobody else that you can blame if this doesn’t go well so we have accountability in the process and we just know the client so well. It’s so nice for the designers to be able to talk to the carpenters. The carpenters might say that the client didn’t decide something about a bookcase and then designer might explain that the client loves books and that the bookcase is for something specific and we should talk to her about how big her books are instead of the carpenter just being like, “well, the plans said a bookcase.”

We can really make it unique and dial it in for the clients without burdening the them with a bunch of expensive design time.

Learn more about Factor Design Build here.