What is “Project Scope?”

Designs by Gia Interior Design, New England Interior DesignHave you ever heard the phrase “project scope” while doing a design or construction project? Have you wondered what exactly is a “project scope”?  Well here are a few answers to some common question.

What is the “Project Scope” and why is it important?

The project scope is basically a term used to define part of the project management of any project. It is the part of the planning of your project, that involves creating a detailed list of everything that your project will include.  This includes projects that our homeowners would like to do, everything that would be needed to complete those projects. This list is clearly defined as to what needs to be done to complete the desired project, what it will look like at the end and all materials used to create this project. This will include everything else that must be done in order for your project to be done.

Think about how you put together a jigsaw puzzle. This is the best way to illustrate the process by which your home is put together or renovated. You can’t put in the last piece of the puzzle unless all of the other pieces are in place, exactly where they need to be to accommodate the last few pieces. If you want to take out a piece of the puzzle that is not on the outer edge, you must remove the necessary pieces in order to remove the piece that you want to be removed, and then replace the puzzle pieces.

This is how it works with a renovation. Let’s say you just want to replace your kitchen cabinets. Well in order to get them out and replace them, you also must remove the countertop, the sink, and faucet and most likely the backsplash. So, for someone that just wants to replace kitchen cabinets, the scope of work would actually have to include removing countertop, sink, faucet and backsplash and in most cases replacing those items as well. Reviewing this in the beginning stages of a project with a homeowner will ensure that they truly understand what the project that they desire would entail.Designs by Gia Interior Design, New England Interior Design

There are many other reasons why clearly defining your scope of work up-front is so important, as we discussed above.

1 – Process-
 many design and construction elements affect each other and knowing the full scope of work from the beginning will prevent backtracking in the process.

2 – Backtracking- causes additional construction costs and adds additional time to your project. Homeowners adding additional projects is common when you are in progress with a project and we certainly can add projects if the homeowners budget allows.  But what we are talking about here are actual changes or deciding on something mid-project due to poor planning, lack of a clear design plan, or changing your mind.  These changes definitely affect your scope of work and could certainly add additional costs if backtracking, re-doing or re-building something is necessary.  These problems almost always happen when a homeowner begins a project without a clear design plan as the design plan is what is needed to thoroughly develop a scope of work for the project.

3 – Budget- the only way to develop a comprehensive quote for a design or renovation project is to have a clearly defined goal. This is your design plan. This is what specifies everything about your project in great detail.  The measurements of everything in the space, the exact placement of everything, all materials to be used in your space. For example, if you are planning a bathroom project and you do not know what size bathtub you are using, then you are just guessing as to the amount of space, fixtures, and money needed for this bathtub, and you are not seeing how it affects everything else you are planning in the bathroom. If you have an exact bathtub, and you know it’s exact placement, specification, etc, then you can more accurately quote not only the bathtub but the rest of your bathroom project.  Yes, there are sometimes unforeseen things involved in construction, but that doesn’t mean that you just wing it. In fact, going in with no clear plan often ends in disaster, especially when it comes to your budget.

4 – Timeline- Tradesmen and contractors run on a schedule, if you are not prepared with a clearly defined design plan or scope of work developed by a pro, your contractor will move on to the next project until you are ready. Or they will jump in and rush you to make decisions as they need them so they can get to work. This is not a great way to design a space. Contractor input is vital to developing the full scope of work for a project as they are construction experts, but it is not their job to design your space, choose your tile and materials or teach you how to manage your own project. Tell them what you want to be built and they will build it, if you do not know how to communicate design elements properly, the outcome might not be what you were expecting. The extra time added to your project for changing your mind midstream, or re-building things over and over because of poor communication can be eliminated with a clearly defined design plan and scope of work. Any of these delays will affect the total project timeline as once your plumber moves on to start another project, he can’t just drop everything because you are now prepared with a decision to move forward. This causes further delays.

What is “Scope Creep”?

Designs by Gia Interior Design, New England Interior DesignSurely you have heard the term “scope creep”. Scope creep is something that can happen easily on a project. Scope creep is when the project increases little by little and is not managed properly. We see this most often when clients attempt a renovation on their own without the assistance of a designer or an experienced project manager. Often homeowners don’t know that if you do one project, it might affect something else. Or “while you are it” you may as well add this or that. All of this is fine if you have the budget and timeline to accommodate these additional things. Working with a professional will help to eliminate the project expanding beyond your means.

When working with clients from the design phase right through to the construction phase, we have processes in place to define the project scope as much as possible before construction or installation begins. Aligning the overall project with the homeowner’s overall goals.


The extra time taken to go through a well-developed design process and plan will always pay off in the end, as well as

  • Create a finished project that addresses all of your needs as far as function, design, and your budget.
  • A project that is well planned will have no questions as to material selection and design details because all of this was clearly defined in the early planning of a project.
  • So our contractors and tradesman know exactly what they are building, what materials are being installed when all specified materials will be on site when they arrive. Allowing for smooth project implementation from start to completion.

For more design realities, inspiration, design tips, and actionable advice don’t forget to sign up for our weekly emails!

Until next time,
Gia

Designing For Safety

Designs By Gia Interior Design, Massachusetts Interior DesignerWhen you design kitchens and bathrooms for a living, you can’t help but notice design issues wherever you go. Including, improper material selections, finishing errors, sloppy finish work, and design mistakes causing safety issues. If I have dinner in a restaurant I’m pretty sure I’m the only one that notices the size and height of the light fixture above the table that is unproportioned or shining the light right in your eyes and not where you need the light on the table. Or the tile threshold that is going to cause everyone to trip because of the height.

Or inevitably I see space planning errors that don’t allow for the necessary maneuverability, causing opportunities for tripping, falling, or putting people at risk for injury. This is the way it goes. I am sure if you are a professional writer and you are reading my blog, you will notice more than a few writing errors. Unprofessionally designed spaces look and function like unprofessionally designed spaces.

Most of the time I don’t mention noticing these issues to my family and friends when I see them while I am out and about, being an optimistic person you just learn to notice and move on. Most of the time homeowners or proprietors are doing the best they can and often think that design only involves mixing a few fabrics and colors, so anyone with fairly “good taste” could design space.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

Time, money, and resources are wasted every day on “shot in the dark” design approaches. But there is one area that you will be risking more than some extra time and money to re-do those design mistakes. That would be the area of safety.Designs By Gia Interior Design, Massachusetts Interior Designer

On a recent weekend getaway with my family, when I first saw the hotel bathroom I immediately noticed that the tile on the floor was in fact not a floor-rated tile but was actually a thin ceramic glossy wall tile, a product that should never be used on a walking surface. I made a mental note of this and knew that all of the severe cracking that I saw on the floor tile was due to this and I wondered why such a nice hotel would make  such a severe design error, I wondered if every room had the same severe cracking, I knew that it most likely did and that it probably cracked shortly after it was installed as this type of tile was never meant to be walked on.

Later that weekend my two-year-old granddaughter who walked into the bathroom with wet feet slipped on the extremely slippery glossy tile and took a bad fall slamming her head on the floor. She is fine, thank goodness, but this goes to show how important it is that not only you know what materials are beautiful for your home or a commercial project but you also need to know what materials to use where and when not to use a material if it could be a safety hazard. Surprisingly we see this type of issue all the time in homes, homeowners fall in love with a beautiful piece of tile or a specific type of floor but they don’t know the ramifications of using these materials improperly.

Unfortunately, the money saved by this hotel by using this inexpensive wall tile as a floor will cost far more to replace as every bathroom floor surely has or will have issues with extensive cracking and is definitely a surface that is dangerous to walk on for all hotel guests.

This is just an example of the many design details that affect a bathroom or kitchen design, and an example of just one of the safety issues that can come up when you are unfamiliar with what you actually need to know to design a space that is not only beautiful but functional and safe for everyone that uses the space. 

Until Next Time,
Gia

The Importance Of Having A Realistic Budget For Your Design and Renovation Project

As an interior designer and renovation specialist, I love working with all of our clients, whether that be our full-service clients, our consulting clients, or our social media followers and email list subscribers for whom we provide free resources like our information-packed blog articles. I love helping all of our clients by providing services that meet all of their design needs.

When I first meet with a client they may or may not have a budget for the project that they are desiring, or be willing to share their thoughts about the budget. If they do have a budget, that budget may or may not be realistic for the project that they are thinking about completing and the desired scope of work. Homeowners may look into the cost of cabinetry, fixtures, and counter-tops and then make a guess as to what the overall project might cost. This is a very inaccurate way to determine what the cost of your project might actually be.

When looking at what is actually involved in doing your project the cost of professional services is not usually talked about much on television design shows or in publications, but it’s a big cost when it comes to your project. Professional services include everyone from the designer or architect, structural engineer, contractors, plumbers, electricians, installers, and painters. Additional costs may include all building permits and delivery on all products. So much is involved in putting a project together and there is a cost to that above and beyond products and materials purchase cost.

So in the beginning stages of a project,  I try to discuss budget early on to be sure that my client’s budget and scope of the project are in alignment. If the client is prepared with an idea of their budget for the project that they’re looking at doing, this gives us the ability to know this early on and to prepare design elements or suggest a scope of work that’s more reasonable for their particular goals and budget. Or to determine the costs of the projects that they desire and then schedule the project when they are thoroughly prepared for the cost. This helps the homeowner be more prepared later when estimated costs and quotes for projects are higher than with the customer thought they might be.

Couple managing the debtThis is very successful when being lead through this process with a professional. Sometimes when homeowners attempt to go through this process on their own they quickly wind up in trouble by underestimating expenses or even starting a project before totally figuring everything out with regards to design, professional services, and labor cost. Another issue might be not having planned any contingency funds available for unexpected construction issues, or for things that you might want to add to the project scope. The end result is always spending more money than planned and putting the client over budget.

Preparation and planning is the key here. Just because you think a kitchen might cost $20,000 doesn’t mean that this is realistic considering the desired scope of work, the condition of your existing home and it’s systems, the desire to take down several walls to expand the space, and the professional services needed to accomplish to your finished project. The biggest way to control the cost of your project is to prepare the scope of work that you can afford after accurately investigating costs.

Until next time,
Gia

Adding luxury to any bathroom

Designs By Gia Interior Designs. Award Winning Interior Designer. Web Design by inConcert Web Solutions.If you’ve ever imagined a luxurious master bathroom in your home, you might enjoy this classic master bathroom that we recently designed for one of our lovely clients.  This bathroom was part of a large design project involving a kitchen, butlers pantry, mud room, several bathrooms, and of course this beautiful master bathroom. This long narrow space designated for the new master bathroom created several design challenges, but it also allowed us to use the length to create a dramatic focal point in the back of the bathroom featuring a freestanding tub with classic lines.

We designed a custom shower with dreamy white tile, seating, rain head, and a custom glass enclosure.  We also included 2 separate vanity areas which we topped with beautiful gray and white stone. The homeowner’s beautiful chandelier was the starting point for this elegant bathroom.  The black and white color scheme really gives this bathroom a timeless feeling, with the drama of an old classic black and white movie.

There are many ways that you can add luxurious, classic touches to any bathroom.  If you are ready to undertake a renovation or new build project, it’s best to work with a design professional as the bathroom is one of the most difficult rooms to plan and design, issues involving space planning, safety, and comfort as well as aesthetics must be addressed when designing any bathroom.  There are a few easy ways that you can add a bit of luxury to your existing bathroom if you are not quite ready for a renovation.

Designs By Gia Interior Designs. Award Winning Interior Designer. Web Design by inConcert Web Solutions.

1 – Add Artwork

Black and white artwork can look great in a bathroom. With a few complimentary pieces of inexpensive art, you can create a classic or modern look in your existing bathroom. Expensive art should be placed strategically to avoid moisture damage.

2 – Add Plush Cotton Towels

Plush towels create a filing of luxury. Choose solid black and white and mix stacks of towels together. This gives a clean look without adding more patterns to the room.

3 – Add Unexpected Storage to the Vanity

Use a mirrored or glass tray or collection of small vases to store makeup and organize other small items. This looks better than plastic make-up organizers.

4 – Storage

Store larger necessary items in baskets, vases or cabinets. If an item is going to be visible and necessary, be sure it looks nice and is stored in a way that complements the space.

5 – Add Candles and Fresh Flowers

These small touches can bring a touch of luxury to any space especially the bathroom.

So, You’ve Purchased A Fixer-Upper, Now What?

Designs by Gia Interior DesignYou’ve spent the last few months searching for a new home. You’ve re-calibrated your wish list several times before finally deciding that in order to get into the neighborhood that you like and stay within your budget, you had better consider a fixer-upper. It looks easy enough, so how hard could it be? Besides, it looks like fun. You know that you would like to add or change some of the features in your new home, so how hard could it be?  Well, if you are a first-time homeowner or a first-time renovator, stay tuned, this article is for you!

Fixing up an old or run down home has been a way of life for me and my family for as long as I could remember because I grew up with my parents being fixer-upper renovators.  As a child coming home from school and walking through the front door, I was sure of one thing, somewhere in my path, there would be wet paint or freshly poured cement with piles of stone ready for stacking, electrical wires hanging from the ceiling, and of course, the furniture would always be in a different place. The perfect environment for this designer in the making.

Years later, I took it to a whole different level.  As my children grew up amidst a full-scale major renovation in what was their childhood home, a 200-year-old historical beauty, and a thriving Interior Design and Renovation business operating at full force by their mother, whose first office was in that home. Now that they are adults, I wonder if this must somehow be in the genes as I see my 3-year-old grandson building “staging” as he climbs carefully with his hammer in hand and my 1 1/2-year-old granddaughter standing in her pink tool belt, smiling as I teach her how to retract her tape measure as they help with the next family project. Future renovators in the making, for sure.  Needless to say, after 20 years of renovating clients houses and many more years of living in numerous fixer-upper projects, I do have some advice for anyone who has found themselves head over heels for their vision of what this is going to be like.

1 – Be patient and Listen to the house
I know you want to get into the exciting stuff right away. The kitchen, the bathrooms, taking down walls. But allow yourself a little time to access the property close up. Take your time, go through the details of the house slowly. Allow the house to show you what needs your attention first. Believe me, it will! Sometimes new renovators go right at it tearing into everything on their wish list, only to find, a few days or weeks into the project, that house had other more pressing issues that really should be addressed first. Usually, these are the less exciting projects, like the roof, the furnace, electrical, or plumbing issues. And my personal favorite from past experience in 2 of my own homes, water well or main water line issues. Many issues can be brewing that you are unaware of even when you’ve had a thorough home inspection. So be prepared with your budget to address some of these issues, should they come up sooner than anticipated in your renovation project.

2 – Really access your goals for the house.
Are you hoping to be living in the home for a while? Or are you going to be fixing it up and selling in a few years? Both of these scenarios should be approached very differently with regards to how to approach your plan, renovation, and budget. Be clear on your goals before you start. This will keep you from over-investing in design elements that only you think are great and might hinder the sale of your home if that is your intention. If you are here to stay, then you can create a plan of action based on your goal for you and your family.

3 – Have a detailed plan.
After accessing the house thoroughly addressing any immediate issues, now it’s time to develop a detailed plan. This is a great time to involve a design professional who knows the ins and outs of transforming your home with a renovation. An experienced designer will be able to review your plan and assist with creating a phased plan of action. This is important because you don’t want to find out later when you finally get to do your bathroom renovation, that the adjacent rooms, which you renovated first, will now be affected in order to run plumbing and electrical for your new bathroom project. You certainly don’t want to spend time and money backtracking because you didn’t do things in a logical order.

4 – Life during a renovation.
If you have the opportunity to do some or all of the work on your fixer-upper before you move in, then great. Plan those projects strategically. It’s much easier to address any floor work before you have a house full of furniture unless this doesn’t make sense for your timeline or project goals. If you are going to be living in your home and fixing it up as you go, really think about ways that you can make our life easier by progressing through the house and thinking out the logistics. This is something that I review with every client before a renovation. Even in the best of circumstances, your projects will cause some stress and logistical issues when your lifestyle is disrupted with a renovation.

5 – Don’t try to be your own contractor
Don’t try to be your own contractor unless you have the additional time and money needed to correct expensive errors that you might make by learning as you go. Pick and choose the projects that you know you can compete and that are within your skill set, if you want the hands-on experience. Remember that a poorly done renovation can cost just as much money as a professional renovation, usually takes much more time, and can actually decrease the value of your home if it doesn’t look great in the end. Hiring the pros will ensure you get the desired results without all the stress, guesswork, and endless hours trying to figure it all out.

Proceed with Caution! The Myths of TV Renovations Vs Reality

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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