Renovations are a big part of life here at Archiscapes and they certainly present a unique set of challenges. On top of the usual architectural parameters such as setbacks, codes, neighborhood guidelines and a client’s budget that govern our work, we also have to work with the present structure that we are saving and renovating. This often means we have to get more creative than usual to come up with ways to achieve the client’s wish list.
So how do we do it? The first step is always to measure and document the existing house. If the client happens to have a set of blueprints for their home, that’s great! More often than not, it’s up to us to create a set. A survey showing the existing home on the lot is a big help – as we had when beginning work on a new project this past week. After that, it’s two of us and a tape measure. Every wall and window must be measured and written down so we can draw it up in the computer.
Once we have an existing plan, we can start to play with ways to change it all. A “demolition” plan is created showing what walls will be removed as part of the construction set that will eventually go to the contractor. After that, the fun part where we show off the new plans where the new walls, windows and doors will go.
Renovations can be a fantastic way to get your home into its best shape. Unfortunately, the process to get there is, well, tough. You may have already guessed this, but let me repeat it because most people underestimate this part – it is really tough! By tough, I mean give yourself an extra 30% of padding in your budget and construction schedule beyond the contractor quote based on the plans because, inevitably, no matter how great your home appears to be before the renovation, something will be uncovered behind a wall that will result in some cost overruns. It may be termites, water damage, structural support problems, substandard wiring, poor insulation … You get the idea.
Also, at some point, you will realize that whatever part of your home you are renovating makes the other “non-renovated” part look a bit dated and you will inevitably want to go ahead and ask the contractor to update the tile in “just one more bathroom” or run that new flooring “across just one more part of the house” or ask the painter to “paint just two more rooms” – which also will lead to a bit more extra costs and time.
I say this because both of these happen on about 99.9% of our renovation projects.
But as someone who is wrapping on a major renovation project on her own home, I am happy to sympathize with you when we discuss how, tough as it may be, renovations as worth it.