One of the most important parts of any home renovation project is the front-end planning. The more planning done, the smoother the project goes. Clearly, the actual design for the renovation is vital, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Here are six other key steps to consider:
1. Build consensus
Many of my clients chuckle about this one, but I always start off a project by making sure that everyone is on the same page about the project. I give my clients “homework” to establish a list of priorities for the project. This is especially key when the client is a couple in which spouses have slightly different visions. This list establishes a shared and clearly outlined vision that serves as a crucial starting point for a successful project.
2. Start with the ideal
It is actually worth discussing “in a perfect world, here is what we’d like to do”. Starting from the ideal, we can establish a realistic job scope and consider whether tackling a job in phases will be the best way to achieve the desired results. Sometimes, the whole project can be done all at once in a manageable budget for the client. In other cases, some things need to wait. If a project is going to be completed in phases, it is important to determine what things should get done in phase 1 so that subsequent phases are doable (and won’t require undoing earlier work!).
3. Consider site work and infrastructure issues
Especially if space is being increased, it is important to review septic, well locations, utility lines and drainage during the planning stage to proactively address any issues. For waterfront properties, shoreline zoning can be a big consideration. Both state and town regulations are detailed and specific (and are vital in protecting our waterfronts!).
4. Share likes
Here’s where the fun kicks in! When I have my very first meeting with a client, I recommend they start collecting photos of things they like, if they have not done so already. After seeing a few images, I can usually tell exactly what attracts them in certain photos and I will have a good sense of their personal style. There are great tools to use online (such as Houzz.com) where you can create and save idea folders, or clients can go old school and simply rip out pages from magazine articles, ads or even home furnishings catalogs.
5. Write a “Project Story”
As we move to establishing actual budgets, I will write the “story” of everything that will be getting done. Again, this confirms everyone’s expectations and sets clear goals and objectives. Additional documents such as door and window schedules, finish specifications, lighting fixture summaries and even hardware lists are all organized. This keeps the job moving and insures that the finished project flows seamlessly (right down to something as small as the hardware on windows matching the door stops installed).
6. Get onto contractor schedules
Good construction teams are busy! As a result, getting the project team established as soon as possible is important. Early on, I start getting the right people on board for a project. In an ideal world, we then all work together to establish a target time line, beginning with the all-important start date. New England weather conditions need to be considered and, in the case of vacation properties in particular, we try to avoid disruptions when the owners would like use their special homes.
The planning process takes time but is absolutely essential to a smooth home renovation that completes on schedule and within budget. If you want to enhance your home, start planning now!