Everyone loves to watch design projects on television, especially the dramatic home renovation transformations. As a designer and renovator who has been in the business for 20 plus years, I’ve observed these shows from their early inception, to what exists today. Design shows have done a great job demystifying the actual role of an interior designer, revealing the true value of using an Interior designer’s services. An industry that once was confusing and mysterious to the client is now a little more understood. However it’s impossible for a television show, created solely for the entertainment of viewers, to fully explain and reveal the actual design and construction process in its entirety. So viewers don’t really get to see the full scope of how things work. Some viewers understand this limitation, but I want to point out a few misconceptions for viewers that might be considering a renovation and have never renovated before. Here are some of the myths that will easily be shattered when doing a project in reality. 

1) MYTH

On television shows, homeowners are kicked out of their home during renovations, returning well rested to a completed project, and surprise, your home is also fully furnished. 

REALITY

We sometimes have clients that choose to travel while their project is underway, knowing that a full service company like mine can manage everything from start to finish. But most of the time, unless you plan for, and can afford a hotel for 4-6 weeks, depending on the scope of your project, you will be living in your home during most of the renovations and you should plan accordingly. If a kitchen or bathroom is being renovated, make some plans as these rooms will be unavailable during construction. We usually assist our clients in making any plans for a temporary kitchen set up before we begin a kitchen renovation. We will also recommend a progression process that might lessen the inconvenience. Having a realistic idea of how the project will proceed and how you and your family will adjust during construction will definitely help you deal with any inconveniences. Also, we do have those exciting reveals when a client hires us to completely furnish the home as well as renovate it, but on the larger projects, the client is seeing the project as it progresses, so we actually have numerous exciting days instead of one. When we are just furnishing a home, and not renovating, then you can leave for one day and come home to a big reveal. 

2) MYTH

Spend entire budget in the beginning. 

REALITY

Have a contingency plan beyond your quoted projected cost. On television you see an unexpected problem come up and then the homeowners are asked what they want to eliminate from the original project, the reality is that materials have already been ordered, things have already been started or purchased, so plans that change drastically from the original plan, once construction begins certainly can happen, but often come with a significant cost. Avoid big design changes once construction starts. This is why having a thorough, well planned design is so important, it is easier and much less expensive to make changes on paper before construction begins. You should have a contingency budget to cover unexpected expenses,  like unknown issues that might lie within your existing home and additional small projects that you would like to add to your scope of work during construction. 

3) MYTH

2 minutes after the project is discussed, your project is instantly rendered with flying objects and furnishings, then immediately we are handing sledge hammers to clients and kicking through walls.

REALITY

A thorough assessment of existing conditions is done, deep design discussions with clients are scheduled, and a thorough design plan which may include drawings or renderings is prepared.  All material selections are carefully and thoughtfully prepared by the designer and reviewed with the homeowner. Once quotes and revisions are approved, all materials are ordered, permits are filed, and your project is scheduled. Demolition is done carefully and methodically to insure the safety of you and your home, and for the ease of debris removal, so don’t be surprised if your contractor doesn’t hand you the sledge hammer, and spends more time unscrewing and carefully removing things than he does smashing things. But, for the record, demo day is still extremely exciting as it’s the beginning of your home’s transformation! 

4) MYTH

Contractors can start your project immediately.

REALITY

A successful renovation involves proper planning, which includes contacting reputable tradesmen months before your project starts. This also includes discussing the project in detail, providing them with the proper information and specifications needed, then scheduling work well in advance of when you will need them. If you are managing a project yourself and do not plan properly, don’t be surprised when you cannot get a reputable plumber or electrician to drop everything and tend to your project. Managing a construction project involves a lot of moving pieces, and a thorough knowledge of construction protocols, this is best left to the pros as it is costly to learn by making mistakes on your home. This can also extend the amount of time your project take to complete. 

Conceptual Design - Our Process - Designs by Gia

5) MYTH

You can make material selection as you move through your renovation,  with everything being chosen with just a quick shopping trip.

REALITY

Sourcing the best materials for your project takes time and involves thorough planning. Material selections with my clients involves several appointments to view samples from vendors, some design discussion and possibly a few trips to look at products. Numerous products have long lead times so choosing items in the middle of your project will limit you to items that you can source and obtain quickly. Some products look similar but vary greatly in quality, so you must know where to compromise and what you are compromising while making these decisions. 

6) MYTH

Budget talks are short and sweet.

REALITY

It might take a homeowner some time to decide what their budget is for the project, and their scope of work might have to change based on their budget..Construction projects are costly in real life, and there are no sponsors and special pricing from vendors in reality. We take time with our clients talking about a realistic budget for the project that we are discussing, and we prepare a thorough quote for our clients based on exactly what we are building. This process takes a little time but it allows a client to understand project costs from the beginning. This will help them decide on a scope of work that best fits their budget. These careful decisions will ensure that you are making a great investment in your home. 

7) MYTH

Researching the cost of materials will give me an idea of what my project will cost.

REALITY

Designers, architects, structural engineers, electricians, plumbers and contractors all charge fees for their services and must be accounted for in the project budget, along will permit fees and any necessary construction documents. These fees are not often discussed on television and often give a homeowner a distorted view of what project costs really involve. 

8) MYTH

The priority of this renovation is empowering homeowners, creating sponsor sales and good tv. Viewers forget that professionals are actually doing these projects and that they are not seeing all the steps.

REALITY

Our priority is always our clients. Time is taken to ensure that our spaces are well designed for the clients and their family. Care is taken to explain the process and construction details with the client. Designers must make decisions based on the best interest of their clients wants, needs, and budget. We want our clients to be happy with the process, happy with results, and happy to refer our company to their friends. I am happy when I am invited back into a client’s home later and I can see the finished design really functioning well for the client, and quality workmanship standing the test of time. 

The reality is that seeing a transformation of a space in real life is actually much better than what you can capture on camera, in reality you can see the fine details of construction and product quality, and really feel the transformation, as you walk through a completed space. Seeing the excitement of the homeowner as they settle in to their new space, hearing how the renovation has exceeded their expectations of what could be possible for the home when we first met. Helping clients through this process is a joy, helping them avoid and anticipate common and costly problems and pitfalls, and creating huge renovation transformations is what we do best. If you have never experienced a renovation before, a well planned renovation really can be extremely exciting and gratifying. Just not exactly how it is perceived from watching a very well edited and simplified version on tv.

~Gia

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