CotY Awards Bring Creativity and Credibility

Dale Contant, partner, Alair Homes Marietta

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021

As a former NARI Atlanta and NARI National President, it’s no surprise that I’m a strong advocate for the CotY Awards. Our firm, formerly known as Atlanta Design & Build, has won numerous local, regional and national CotYs, and we are extremely proud to be recognized by our peers for that work. 

Every remodeler wants to produce award-winning work, and as an industry we all recognize that CotYs aren’t just based on dramatic before-and-after photography that wows the panel ofs judges. Award submissions need to make the case for how a project solved a challenge or executed a vision for how the client wants their home to function. After all, the CotYs are judged by leading industry professionals who are well-versed in current trends in design, technology and functionality. 

I especially appreciate that the awards are judged by remodeling professionals in various markets across the U.S. This validates that work being done on a local or regional basis represents best practices for the industry as a whole.

Here in Atlanta, a leader in our industry was a huge champion for the awards and his advocacy brought the local CotY competion to our chapter nearly 20 years ago. Former NARI Atlanta President, Brad Cruickshank, founder/owner of Cruickshank Remodeling, was very familiar with the national awards since he had served as vice chairman of the National CotY Awards Committee and also won a National CotY the first year his company entered the competition.

Brad said those two experiences, along with the professional validation that winning brought to his business, made him believe that implementing the program on a local level could be a very valuable and worthwhile program for NARI Atlanta, as it certainly has proven to be. Eight projects from Atlanta-area remodelers are among the 2021 National CotY Award winners, a testament to a NARI chapter that believes in the value of these awards.

One winning project in 2021 is from my Alair colleagues in Decatur, Ga. who were recognized for Residential Interior Element under $30,000. The project began as a complete remodel of the home’s first floor. Because the dining room is visible immediately upon entry, the Alair Homes Decatur team recommended, designed and built a “wow wall”. The end result is a functional show-stopper, incorporating bold elements with stained walnut shelving and countertop, Scandinavian-inspired wallpaper, deep blue custom cabinets and shiny brass hardware. The wall also incorporates space for an attractive desk for home office use and ample storage, making the space functional in a time when homes need to be able to morph from living to working and educational spaces. 

“There is no greater honor in the remodeling business than to win a National CotY Award,” said David Michelson, Alair Homes Decatur partner and current NARI Atlanta President. “This particular project presented a creative challenge for our team, but the combination of beautiful and functional design, along with outstanding craftsmanship, resulted in a happy client and this rewarding national recognition.”

Our firm takes great care when considering what to nominate for a CotY. We know that our project will be compared against the strongest work in our field, and we really need to bring our A-game. However, we see winning an award as just the first step. Over the years we have seen demonstrated impact from winning a CotY Award.

Winning at this level builds credibility for a firm, increases consumer confidence and inspires pride in current, and future, staff. We also learn a lot from other winners. Winning projects demonstrate best practices, highlight design trends and incorporate true innovation, all of which elevates the profession overall.

I imagine the NARI Atlanta Chapter is typical of other chapters in that members truly celebrate their colleagues’ successes. Our annual black-tie awards event brings together friendly competitors to cheer each other on and learn from each other. I know I speak for so many others by saying I really look forward to when we can gather in person again to honor the best of our industry.