Dolphin Architects & Builders, Mt Pleasant and Johns Island
By Patra Bucher
Walter G. Seinsheimer Jr. has been turning clients into friends. The chairman of Dolphin Architects and Builders, Seinsheimer has built his company on a single guiding principle - customer satisfaction.
"Our total focus is on pleasing our clients," states Seinsheimer. "We know that if the client is happy, we make a profit."
Over the years Dolphin has built over 200 custom homes in a number of the Lowcountry's most prestigious neighborhoods, including Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms, Kiawah, Seabrook, Wadmalaw, James Island and I'On. Most recently, Dolphin has begun construction in Hamlin Plantation and Sewee Preserve, both located in Mount Pleasant.
"Because we are a design/build firm, we accomplish a number of things for our clients," continues Seinsheimer. "First, we save them time. Second we save them money. Thirdly, we save them a lot of acrimony."
Seinsheimer explains that the design/build concept allows for a seamless, less complex transaction. "There's no loss of motion between the architect and the builder," he says. "Because the builder and the architect work together on a daily basis, it reduces the amount of drawings involved. Therefore, we can actually do our architecture for about 50 cents on the dollar because it's not a profit center for us. We know our clients would rather put their money into their house rather than drawings."
Dolphin has developed a three step process to turn an idea for a home into reality. "We not only give the client an outline of the process when they first sit down with us, but we have a procedures manual that we've developed so that we don't deviated from the process. So we always deliver the same high quality product," says Seinsheimer.
Step one is to develop the client's concept into a set of preliminary plans. This includes full-size scale drawings of the floor plan and all four sides of the house. The architects also site the house on the lot and provide a written outline of the speci- fications. "Throughout this step, the architect and the builder are at the table with the client, working together to keep the house on budget," notes Seinsheimer. "That way, the client doesn't end up with a plan for a house they can't afford."
At the end of step one, Dolphin gives the client a price, plus or minus 10 percent. If the client decides to proceed with the project, Dolphin moves on to step two, which is the development of the working drawings and a firm price.
Step three is building the house. "At Dolphin, our clients get a number of things," states Seinsheimer. "First of all, they get a guaranteed price. Then they get a guaranteed completion date. And thirdly, they get a five year warranty. I'm not aware of any other builders who do that. But if you're spending the kind of money these people are spending, I think they're entitled to know that it's done right and that the builder is prepared to stand behind it."
In addition to building custom new homes, Dolphin Architects and Builders also operates a major renovation division, with projects all over the Lowcountry, including downtown.
Dolphin shows its commitment to the Charleston area by donating five percent of it's net bottom line to both human needs and arts needs causes in the community. "We are very committed to giving back to the community that has been so good to us," Seinsheimer says.