Saturday, December 1, 2007

Project Renovation

Recently I have been working with a couple on their 4 year old house. What started as a consult on a new colour scheme and ideas to update thier home turned into an entire cosmetic renovation. The couple had found after living in their new home it wasn't meeting their expections.

I hadn't realized the scope of work they had in mind until after we met at the house. After meeting with them and discussing their needs and wants it quickly became evident that they had put some careful thought into just how they wanted the house to suit their lifestyle. What they needed was some direction and a concrete action plan to breathe new life into their space.

The real challenge became thier timeline, they wanted the project completed by Christmas so that they could enjoy the holidays with their family and friends. I should say our initial meeting took place just 5 shorts weeks ago. The home was your average 2 story with basic builder finishes. What we planned was a complete change in the colour scheme to lighter and airier colours and upgrades to all the finishes.

One thing about renovating is you need to have a solid budget, which they did. Which leads me to another fact about renovating ... people generally get on a roll and this often leads to more work and thus more expense. With my experience I have come to realize that most renovations will end up costing more and it is wise to know beforehand that your budget will likely be stretched an additional 10-25%.

In this case I would have to say that we have exceeded this figure. My clients decided after starting that they wanted to do more. Instead of just focusing on the main floor they decided they wanted to have the lower floor redone while we were at it. We're still working out those details and waiting for new flooring.

In the past 5 weeks we have had the original kitchen cabinets painted white, added a quartz countertop, a new tile backsplash and cabinet hardware, painted each and every single room in the house, revised the lighting plan and installed new light fittings and potlights throughout the home, changed the original entry floor plan and staircase, added wainscotting, installed a new fireplace, custom bookshelves, and a built in seating bench in the dinette, retiled the entry and the kitchen, changed carpets. Truly there has not been a surface that hasn't been changed.

One of the hardest things we had to do was to rip up hardwood flooring that was in the kitchen and adjoining dining area. The family's dog had ruined the floor with claw marks and nothing could be done to save it or revive it. It is heartbreaking to rip up a 4 year old floor but now that it is replaced with tiles it is far more functional and durable.

Some things still remain on the to do list but much has been accomplished in such a short time. This case is unusual, normally with this scope of work it can take months to complete. Luckily my clients are in the building trade and could round up contractors and finish carpenters to get the job done. As with any job you can expect things to go wrong, they will and it's nobody's fault it just happens. The quartz countertop arrived ahead of schedule but it wasn't theirs. It was the right countertop but the wrong house. So we wait for that ...

I was at the house just yesterday and the results are amazing to say the least. The rooms are barely recognizable as the same house. I will be posting the renovation before and after pictures on my website in the new year.

Here are a few tips on the renovation process:

Establish a budget with extra reserves to fall back on.
Develop a clear plan to meet your needs.
Realize that you will be living in a mess short term and the results will be worth the effort and wait.
Expect the unexpected. Nothing will ever go along smoothly.
Consult professionals for guidance and advice.
Communicate with your contractors on a daily basis.
The choice and quality of finishes will affect your budget. Upgrades in finishes will increase the long term value of your home.

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