5 Questions: Kevin Lagasse
Kevin Lagasse considers the passions, relationships, and rewards of life in the custom building trade.
1. What questions do you hear most frequently about what you do?
We are often asked about the features of the homes we build (the same question, interestingly, that you ask below). Clients are curious about new materials, techniques, and other innovations that can enhance their homes and living experience. We get asked which architects and designers we are working with, and on what projects. Finally, people ask about recommendations for architects, designers, landscape architects, and home-automation firms. We do provide recommendations—and not only for firms we have worked with. We will question our clients (or potential clients) about their intended projects and attempt to recommend firms we feel would be good matches.
2. What in particular about the builder’s art do you find most interesting and rewarding?
Integral to all projects is the execution of the design intent and the owner’s vision. We are passionate about what we do, and that passion drives our team to address any challenges that may arise during a project. The personal nature of building a client’s home makes the work extremely rewarding, and most rewarding of all are the relationships we have forged. We have great clients—owners, architects, and designers—who continue to place their trust in our firm for project after project.
3. Are there specific features or amenities that people are requesting for their homes now?
We’re seeing a couple of trends. One is a desire for natural light. As people look to maximize usable space in their homes, we are converting basement or garden-level areas and finding creative ways to incorporate natural light into them. We are also building more kid-friendly or kids-only spaces—places for kids to gather, work, play, and stay, separate from the adult areas of the house. Just now we are completing a kids’ bunk and recreation room for one project. It’s spectacular—it has cool features, bold colors, and is really comfortable. The kids worked closely with the design team to articulate their own vision for the space.
4. If you could work on any building project in the world, what would it be?
I have a background in engineering, so I’m drawn to projects that are groundbreaking in design or engineering, or that use building methods that have never been tried before. The Brooklyn Bridge and Kansai International Airport in Japan are two that come to mind. I was fortunate to work on a project like this in Boston: owners at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Residences could customize anything in their homes while the building itself was still under construction. This had never been done to such an extent in Boston. We incorporated nearly $60 million worth of customization, spread across the building’s fifty units, working on all of them simultaneously with a staff of twenty-three. Someone described it as “changing the oil in your car while traveling at sixty miles an hour.”
5.What is the most important advice you’d give someone thinking about building a house?
I’d stress the importance of putting together a good team, consisting of architect, interior designer, landscape architect, and builder. Each professional brings experience in his or her respective discipline, and the interaction of these professionals is what makes for great projects. It’s especially important to check references and look at previous projects when putting the team together. It’s great if they have all worked together before, too, but in my opinion it’s not critical. Project teams also need to meet regularly with the homeowner, but independently among themselves as well, to work through details that can be unnecessarily tedious for the client.
The Lagasse Group, Hopkinton, Mass., (508) 686-5040, thelagassegroup.com
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