New Avenue’s new project manager brings knowledge, experience, and passion to every project.
Michelle Villarreal provides concierge-level project management services for New Avenue clients.
What does that mean for you?
It means you can go into your first meeting with our architect or contractor fully prepared. A little hand-holding is always helpful as you upload photos, sketches, or plans to your page. Michelle will guide you through the first steps and help you start your project strong.
Not sure what to expect? Michelle describes our process in a detailed call with you at the very start, then she checks in once a month to answer any questions and make sure everything is on track.
Wondering about costs? Michelle will review your project with you and send the actual costs of a similar completed project near you.
What about during the project? After you meet with your designer or contractor, we will check in to see how it went and address any tasks that need to be done. We’ll also refer specialists you may need such as surveyors, engineers, or other sub-contractors.
The concierge-level project management service is here to make sure everything in your project goes smoothly from the start. Read on to learn more about Michelle and where she gets her incredible skill and devotion to her work.
Michelle describes her job as multi-faceted. “My role within the company is to gain quality assurance for the clients. I’m the person that allows the project to move forward productively.” She helps homeowners with permitting, facilitates the design process, and ensures that communication among the designer, contractor, and the client is clear and that milestones are met.
In short, Michelle’s job is to make sure your project progresses and meets your expectations.
Michelle is excited to be a part of the New Avenue team, calling the company “disruptive to the industry” because of the way New Avenue makes housing more accessible and sustainable.
It’s a cause that’s close to Michelle’s heart. She’s all about making housing better for everyone. It’s also about the environment: She understands how updating existing residential areas is cleaner and more sustainable than building on undeveloped land.
Data, design, and service
Michelle’s interests grew with her, starting in her childhood when she observed her father working in the field as a designer and an expediter.
She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with an emphasis in writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Between undergrad and graduate school, she studied horticulture under Dr. Jerry Garner at the City Colleges of Chicago, worked in non-profits and community activism, and received a certificate in public interest design. She subsequently received a merit scholarship and earned a Master of Landscape Architecture + Urbanism from the University of Southern California. It was this education, combined with her work and life experiences, that led to her interest in urbanism—the development of cities.
“Part of my career goal was to work in ecologically based projects,” she says. “Having learned about urbanism and knowing that there is a footprint on the earth, I’m passionate about this in terms of the environment and in terms of families’ happiness.”
Michelle has worked in data management, project management, and home design, and she’s run her own business getting construction projects through the city of Oakland. She also creates horticultural designs. She’s got experience handling large budgets, as with a high-end residential project in the North Bay.
That’s a strong background–—one that’s perfect for the project manager job. She knows how to analyze hard data and think critically about a project’s progress. At the same time, she has a deep understanding of what a good project should look like when everyone is on the same page. With her hands-on design background and project management experience, she can truly understand every phase of design and construction.
Michelle knows the best way to facilitate any residential construction project, whether it’s an accessory dwelling, a remodel, or a new custom home. She combines her knowledge with her artist’s mentality and strong critical thinking to ensure the success of her clients’ projects.
An advocate at the permit office
When a project begins, Michelle starts by talking with the client about their wants and needs. Then, to get the project started smoothly, she looks at permitting before the designer or architect begins making plans. Creating a design before approaching the city for permits can work, but Michelle finds that getting the information from the city first is the best approach.
Permitting is always a daunting process, but Michelle has plenty of experience. She’s gotten permits in some of the most challenging cities in California. Because she knows what questions to ask, she helps her clients avoid losing time and money.
A productivity booster
For every project she takes on, Michelle boosts productivity in several ways.
In the beginning, she helps clients understand the whole process and feel comfortable with the New Avenue system.
As a project progresses, she keeps an eye on how things are going between the client and the architect: “If there’s something that is creating an issue, I can be that third party to make sure the project continues to move forward. Monitoring the project, I can see things that happen in real time.”
In the design phase, Michelle can advise her clients, helping them with ideas. She draws on her experience from past positions and projects to give them the best advice. For instance, she’s worked in residential design and has built habitat gardens from start to finish. “Many clients do want to invest in their landscape,” she says, “but they don’t really know how to do that and also be ecologically friendly. I do have that experience in how to build ecological landscapes.”
During the construction phase, she lends her support to the client and the contractor. On one site in Tiburon, for example, the landscape started slumping. Michelle spotted the problem and helped preserve the project and the workers’ safety.
A true people person
Michelle values her clients’ trust, and she knows that gaining trust starts with listening. “I’m pretty good at communicating and being a good listener. Clients want to be heard. They want their ideas respected and their goals to be met. That’s where I come in. I think that’s really important, putting your trust in someone. It’s very personal.”
Michelle Villarreal is available on an hourly basis to help with any permit or process management work. We’re thrilled to have Michelle on the New Avenue team, managing custom homes, accessory dwellings, additions, and remodels. To work with her and put your project on the right track, schedule a call today.