The Return of the Master Builder

As the managing principal of an architect-led design-build company, Francisca Alonso is passionate about the advantages of working with the same company for both the concept and construction phases of your next project. It is a model that has been proven over time.

Since the time of the Pyramids until the mid 20th Century, every architect was a master-builder. He did not hand off his drawings to a contractor and simply trust that the plan would be followed. As the designer and construction manager, he owned the vision until the final nail was set.

“We are seeing a return of the master-builder in architect-led design-build firms,” Francisca explains, “such as AV Architects + Builders. Design-build firms offer you a single-source solution for your building needs.

The Return of the Master Builder

As the managing principal of an architect-led design-build company, Francisca Alonso is passionate about the advantages of working with the same company for both the concept and construction phases of your next project. It is a model that has been proven over time.

Since the time of the Pyramids until the mid 20th Century, every architect was a master-builder. He did not hand off his drawings to a contractor and simply trust that the plan would be followed. As the designer and construction manager, he owned the vision until the final nail was set.

“Our company helps homeowners love and enjoy their homes thru renovating and transforming their house to fit their desired lifestyle. I love architecture and construction and am thrilled that I can use that passion to help others enjoy their homes.”

Born in Santiago, Chile and raised in southern Spain, Francisca comes from a family of architects and builders. Her father was the internationally acclaimed Spanish architect Melvin Villarroel Roldan, designer of luxury resorts and hotels on the Mediterranean coast and all over the world, including the award winning Puente Romano Hotel and the remodeling of the Marbella Club in Marbella, Spain. Francisca’s brothers and sister, all architects, carry on their father’s vision at the Estudio Melvin Villarroel in Costa del Sol, Spain.

She received her architecture degree from the Catholic University of America, which is also where she met her husband, Antonio Alonso, a fellow architecture student. They began their careers at different companies but things changed after they starting their family.

“When my husband and I decided to start our family we both were working for different companies. Once we had our first child and I could not take the baby to the office any more, we decided I could stay home and raise him.

“However, I figured, if I am going to be home might as well be very busy and one child was not going to cut it; we had 3 more in less than 5 years. At that point we had 4 kids under the age of five. People say you make your best decisions under stress…well, that is when I decided to start my own business, when our youngest was 6 months old!”

Tony and Francisca founded AV Architects in 2001 with a vision to provide a full range of architectural services to homeowners in the Metropolitan DC Area. Dissatisfied with the idea of leaving the drawings in the hands of someone else for the construction phase, AV Builders was launched one year later.

“In the master-builder approach,” Francisca stated, “you are establishing a relationship from the very beginning with the one person who will walk you through both the design and build processes. You really get to know them. More importantly, they get to know you! They learn your tastes, your preferences, your likes and your dislikes. They will also have a good grasp of your budget.

“During both the design and build processes, the same person will be your point of contact. Project control is in a single source – a person with whom you have already developed a level of confidence where communication is shared and understood. This is also the best way of controlling costs for a project and you end up with very few surprises.”

One thing Francisca really enjoys about her work is what she calls the WOW effect. This takes place when a client looks at a before photo of the space being renovated and then views the finished product.

Francisca and Tony have worked hard over the years to maintain a balanced life between family and business. This is something that takes a lot of work but is worth it.

“10 years later we have managed to grow our business and not completely loose our sanity by keeping the strong family values as our number one priority at all times.”

This commitment to family also is a strong influence in the way Francisca works with her clients.

“I want my clients to know that I understand how important their homes are to them and how they feel when they are at home. I want my clients to feel as if their homes is their sanctuary or their retreat – it should feel like a retreat and not just a ‘roof over their heads.’”

When she’s not enjoying time with her family or caring for her clients, Francisca appreciates those opportunities she and her husband get for traveling, sight-seeing, the opera and entertaining.

She also is heavily involved in networking through Business Networking International (BNI), Success in the City, Sterling Women and many other organizations. In fact, one of the secrets of her success is a high commitment to providing business referrals to others in order for their businesses to prosper. Living out the BNI motto “Givers Gain,” Francisca was presented with the “Notable Networker” award early in her tenure as a BNI member two years in a row.

She has also been a loyal customer of Tom and his team of professionals at Tysons Auto Specialties for three years. Why? “I know I can trust their service,” she explains.

“I get honest and trustworthy service with a smile. They do what’s best for their clients and not what’s most convenient for them – since I do the same for my clients, I value having someone with the same values take care of my cars in my family and business.”

To learn more about Francisca Alonso and AV Architects + Builders, you can visit their website at www.avarchitectsbuild.com. Do you have a project in mind? You can contact her at Francisca@AVArchitectsBuild.com to set up a complimentary design consultation.

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