How to Start a Renovation Project

Filed under Project Team, Quick Reference Guides

How to Start a Renovation Project

OK, you hate your kitchen and you want to remodel it. You call it a “re-model”, but since it never looked like a runway model before, you really just want to gut that sucker! So, where do you start and who do you call?

Before you do a thing, you have to understand the scope and purpose of the work. You may want the scope to be a kitchen gut and the remodel purpose “to make it pretty”, but it often doesn’t work out that way. When you begin a project that way, you end up with an entire house being taken apart. So what do you do?

  • Smart planning means considering all of the systems of your house before you begin.

-What does your electrical panel look like and can it handle all of the new appliances?

-Is the HVAC about shot? Maybe now is the time to change it out so that you can run new ducting to the kitchen.

  • It’s better to plan up front than add on and do a “change order.”
  • It is more cost effective and time efficient to run coordinating improvement projects.
  • Understand your hard budget and know that you will exceed that number. I use the number 30% because you always end up expanding your scope of work. That may sound ridiculously high, but even if you have house plans, no one really knows what is behind those walls until they are opened!

IMG_2093Design Team Professionals

Give yourself plenty of time to select the right design team. It can take a month just to schedule meetings and get feedback.

So who do you talk to first- A contractor, interior designer or architect? This is an age-old question, and I believe you should immediately start collecting names for all three!

Yes, you develop plans with an architect, but you simultaneously need input from an interior designer to achieve a particular aesthetic- and you need to input from your contractor to determine if the vision will work with your budget!

Having a team from the beginning helps eliminate having to re-work designs to accommodate budget. If you need help with How to Hire Professionals, check out the link to a previous blog post: HERE

Return on InteriorsDevelopment of Detailed Plans

It is truly the building team that develops the plans. The architect, contractor and interior designer together develop detailed plans to be used for project bids, approvals and design decisions. Each trade has its own design process, but, I have outlined the architectural and interior design trades’ flow below.

The Architectural Design Process

Once you have selected your architect and signed the contract, the architect will take you through various stages of the design process.

1. Schematic Design

Based on conversations with you and an evaluation of your home, your architect will begin to draft concept designs to represent ideas that you have discussed. The drawings will not have many details, but will make sure that you are both in agreement of the basic design. There will be a lot of back and forth to further develop the schematic design.

2. Design Development

After the schematic design sign off, the details begin. If necessary, the architect will involve engineers to perform calculations on structural components of the project, and adjust the design as needed based on those calculations.

Generally, the client isn’t brought in on structural elements, but ask to run it by your contractor or designer before the engineer spends a lot of time running calculations. The contractor is the one who will perform the work and he will have many more options based on hands-on experience.

3. Construction Documents/ Working Drawings

Some architects can actually produce construction documents, so be sure to find out if this is part of your initial scope. The construction documents add more detail, including product/building material specifications, to the design.

If the architect does produce the construction documents, do not think this is a realistic budget, unless he is working with the designer! The architect may specify finishes that you (or the designer!) may not like, so be sure to get everyone involved so you don’t end up with surprises! A contractor or designer may have a simple way of looking at the drawings to yield a more cost effective- and often times prettier- solution!

4. Design Modifications

The design process is fluid. Again, I recommend having the contractor and designer involved in this phase to give input regarding design details and feasibility of accomplishing the work within the budget. The design isn’t finalized because you may need the design modified again based on permit requirements, home owner’s association (HOA) rules, etc., when you submit for approvals.

5. Collecting Estimates

If you haven’t shown a contractor your plans, even though the design is completed, now is the time to meet with several contractors to get bids. If you have committed to one contractor already, then the contractor will start the bidding with his trades. After getting estimates, you may discover that you want to change a few things based on a number of reasons, but it is usually because of budget constraints.

IMG_2060Interior Design Process

Below is a general outline of an interior design and remodel project. Remember, not all of these activities will pertain to every job. Most of the time, these “phases” partially merge or occur simultaneously.

Also, don’t forget to be FLEXIBLE! The schedule and timeline will be adjusted as the project progresses. The phases are general descriptions written to help you understand a lot of the details.

1. Phase One-Defining Scope

The first job is to clearly define the distinctive needs and requirements of the homeowner for their space/s. In order to accomplish this, the designer needs to to fully understand how the homeowner wants to live and function in their space.

Once all of the necessary information is collected (via conversations, questionnaires, budget and timeline), the designer can begin generating and reviewing the necessary plans and/or changes with the homeowner, architect and contractor.

The information will enable the designer to create ideal layouts and review the current layouts. They will study the space as it pertains to flow and function and make recommendations and sketches if required. They will create detailed lists and layouts so that decisions can be made for the architect and builder. The designer will also work with their client to determine what items will be incorporated into the remodeled house, such as artwork and accessories.

2. Phase Two- Design Concepts

Once the layout and plan is approved, an overall “design concept” is created for the new space. The designer will make all specific finish and material recommendations throughout. The exterior finishes include walls, stone and tile, pool, deck, railing, wood, fireplace material, gates and fencing. Interior finishes include ceiling beams, paint color and texture, the walls and wall coverings, lighting (art, chandelier, sconces, pendants, etc.), electrical switches and outlets, baseboard, stairs, general cabinetry, kitchen, bath and bar cabinetry, tile, stone, plumbing fixtures, sinks, stoves, etc.

This phase requires renderings, samples, swatches and visuals to help convey the design intent and direction. The details will be determined and decision will be thought through. Partnering with all building team members and vendors to ensure the plan is meticulously followed is essential.

Return on Interiors3. Phase Three- Product Ordering

Designers begin product ordering, project coordination and scheduling. It is a fluid process and some decisions will need to be made immediately, and others not. Communication is key. The designer will continuously coordinate and stay on top of all orders, deliveries, vendor statuses, and installation schedules. This helps eliminate the chance of potential problems or delays.

4. Phase Four- Installation

Installation. This is when the magic occurs. Depending on the size of the project, it could be a few hours or it could be a couple of weeks! Often, workers are present doing some touch ups, carpets and furniture are placed, art is hung, accessories are positioned and other trades are helping out like the electrician who may be hanging a chandelier. The designer brings a list of everything that should be there and checks it twice- OK, maybe more than that!

After Installation completion…

5. Phase five-Evaluation Phase

Client and Designer to discuss end result and satisfaction. This can be a conversation, a survey, or whatever you want it to be. The primary purpose is to make sure that the clients’ needs are met. Secondarily, the client needs to know that the designer will help out with anything they have questions on.

I often use the post installation days as photo shoot days. Designers use the photos for publication, competition entries and their own marketing and social media.

Phew!  A LOT goes on!! And these aren’t even the detailed lists! If you want a copy of the general flow of the architectural design process and the interior design process for a remodel, click the the link HERE or below and be signed up for our weekly blog!

How to Start a Renovation Project_Page_1

Click Here to Get Your Guide to Starting Renovations!

I hope you plan on some fun renovations this year. If you want to go into the project feeling organized and in control, you may want to purchase Return on Interiors System. Check them out HERE and you can decide if it is right for you!