We talked to Sam Wainwright of Refine and Design, a Vancouver contractor who specializes in high-end, custom homes. PLE Painting has worked with Sam and his team for many years and apart from a close working relationship, we also consider him a personal friend.
Sam has hired us to paint many fun and interesting homes over the years and we value the relationship we have built with him.
About Refine and Design
Refine and Design aspires to deliver the best quality renovation and building services in the Vancouver area. The company started out renovating lofts before graduating to full-house renovations and new construction. Now, with decades of experience, Refine and Design is one of the leading construction and renovation companies in Vancouver.
How did you get started in your job?
Sam: Initially Refine & Design started 15 years ago and when we first started we were a home flipping company. We were primarily buying apartments and some houses in North Van and West Van, and we were completely gutting them, renovating them and putting them back on the market. We did this for about three, four years. Then the lovely recession came along and people didn’t have the money and the market just completely dried up.
People just stopped buying and selling properties there for a number of years. That is when we had to change directions. And that’s when we wanted to take the skills that we utilized throughout those years and the team that I built and redevelop that into a contracting company where essentially we were doing the same work but now for clients.
What do you like best about your job?
Sam: What I love best about my job is it’s creative. Every job is unique. Every client is different. Every client’s tastes are different. Every room is a different shape, and that allows us to be dynamic.
Also with our jobs, specifically in renovation work, there’s a lot of challenges and a lot of problems every day. So having these challenges and difficulties thrown at you every day and having the ability to adapt and do problem solving keeps it unique dynamic and, fast-paced and I enjoy that aspect of it.
What is the biggest challenge that you face on the job?
Sam: The biggest challenges are probably the devil’s advocate of what I was saying. Just the challenges that arise each day. It’s very important to us that our clients are happy. This is our number one goal. We want our clients to be happy. And so just working long days, making sure that those goals are accomplished. I would say that was our biggest challenge, making sure our clients are happy and our team is happy and we’re having a healthy, successful company.
What is one thing people don’t know about your trade?
Sam: I find every member of our team has a particular skill set. My skillset is developing these projects from concept to completion, and a lot of that is working with people. I’m in the construction field, but as the owner of the company, I’m working with people, I am working with homeowners, I’m working with designers, I’m working with the trades. I’m working with representatives from the city engineers, architects, and being able to work with a passionate team of people to accomplish a task. And I would say having that skillset of working with people and keeping this dynamic team altogether moving forward is the best skill that I have.
What is your favourite project you’ve worked on?
Sam: Honestly, the project we are doing right now is for a dear friend of mine. We’ve been friends for over 30 years. His wife and him are just a fantastic team. He is a success story and he’s done very well for himself. We are doing a $550,000 rental on a 2,000 square foot apartment right now, which is approximately $450 per square foot for renovation.
That’s quite a bit of money per square foot and we are able to do fun, creative things. And this is probably one of our most rewarding projects right now so I’m quite enjoying this one.
What fun creative things are you doing on this project?
Sam: We have beautiful wood feature walls that have secret doors going into powder rooms and laundry rooms because they’re right in the middle of the living room and we don’t want that to ruin the flow of the space.
We have these functional ways of having doors in the middle of the living room space. So beautiful. Just the cost of the wood is $30,000 for this one wall and that doesn’t even include the doors that are being made. So literally having the secret doors on this beautiful panelled wall where you push a latch and the door opens into a powder room and there’s another secret door into a laundry room. That’s just one of the many cool aspects in this project.
What do you like best about working with PLE Painting?
Sam: I love working with PLE Painting because the owners, Jay and Elliott, are probably some of the most passionate people that I’ve ever met about painting. They take their job very seriously. They’re very detailed. They’re very experienced and they’re very knowledgeable. And whenever I want a job done very well and I don’t want any hassles that’s when I hire PLE Painting because I know they’re going to do their job well. They’re going to do it with passion and they are going to execute it well so I don’t have to worry about anything. I know the clients are going to be happy.
How does PLE Painting make your job easier?
Sam: Their experience, their knowledge, and a lot has to do with their prep work. Jay and I actually have had many conversations about prep work, making sure they have a great foundation, a strong foundation for them to do their job properly.
And that comes with knowledge and experience, whether it’s residential or commercial. And doing it once, doing it right, that’s something they do very, very well.