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

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

So You Think You Might Not Need A Designer For Your Kitchen Renovation, A Cautionary Tale

You’re thinking about doing a major kitchen renovation, you’ve seen some ideas that you might like to explore.  So you spend hours on Pinterest gathering every idea that you like. Then you head down to a local retailer or showroom to look at cabinets or backsplash tile.Designs by Gia Interior Design
 
You might even call the contractor that built your garage last year and tell him that you are ready to build a kitchen. He assures you that he can build your kitchen and quickly shows up to your home and throws out a “ballpark quote” to do “a kitchen” then assures you that he can start demo next week.
 
You quickly realize that you have a lot of questions, beyond what kind of cabinetry doors and crown molding that you would like.  “What would actually look best in your home?” or “What color should you paint?”
 
 How can you get some of the looks and details that you have spent months dreaming about?
 
“I do not see the kitchen details I’ve been dreaming of at the retailer or showroom or will they show me these things later, or automatically include them?”
 
The contractor you hired shows up and starts the demo. “Will this contractor eventually ask me to see my Pinterest boards so he knows what I want? I’m sure all of these things will all be included in the price he gave us.”
 
He turns to you and asks “ So what are you doing for countertops?”  You had no idea that he needed to know this now, so you ask the contractor what he thinks, he says ”whatever you want” so you anxiously start asking friends, family, basically everyone you run into if they think you should do granite or quartz countertops. Everyone spends 20 minutes giving you their re-cap of the last HGTV episode that they watched, convinced they know the answer, or they tell you a tale of the last person they knew that did a kitchen and what they chose, and how it looked awful. So, feeling even more rushed and confused you run back to your contractor and say “everyone thinks I should go with quartz,” What kind? Oh, I don’t know, and that’s not included in the quote you gave me”… and the story continues, for about 6 months or more actually. Every time your contractor needs a selection or answer it slows up his work and increased the cost because the quote was given with no clear design and the saga continues.
 
Why, because the most important part of the process was skipped a fully detailed kitchen design including all specifications, floorplans, elevations, and design details and selection. You unknowingly started sourcing out products and services before you had an actually fully planned space, assuming all the details would just come together. Why, because you’ve never done this before and didn’t think it would be so complicated, and you didn’t know what you didn’t know. Rest assured, this is actually extremely common, homeowners are exposed to products like never before, and the marketing that we are all bombarded with makes kitchen design and renovation, which is an extremely complicated process, looks like a quick weekend project. Homeowners then spend much more time and money trying to learn on their own home resulting in a project that they might not love, and added expenses to correct poor planning and mistakes.
 
Designs by Gia Interior Design. Web Site Design by inConcert Web Solutions.Design is a process and creating a well thought out design plan involves much more than a cabinet layout or a few random ideas. It’s not up to your contractors to design the space, and although some contractors have some design savvy, most are good at “building what you want”. Any quotes given until all the details of a project are clearly defined is usually highly inaccurate.  Until you have a fully designed plan, and you can fully see all of the systems and construction of your home and what is needed to implement this plan, costs cannot be clearly defined.
 
A quick computer generated floor plan from a retailer or a cabinet company is not a complete design plan and is not enough to pull together a cohesively designed space as there are numerous details that go into a professionally designed kitchen.
 
It’s the interior designer, that will review your ideas for your space in greater detail.
First, an interior designer specializing in kitchen design will come into your home, not only to discuss your thoughts and ideas for space but to see the architecture of the home, the colors and details in adjoining rooms and create a kitchen design that seamlessly blends the space. We can take all of your ideas and help you decide which ones to include in your design and which ideas don’t work week together or don’t work well for your space. This is very important, because all of those Pinterest kitchen ideas might not necessarily work well together in the same space, and might not work at all for your space and budget.
 
All designers work differently and when you work with a designer who is selling a specific line of cabinetry or product, this will limit the options that you are being provided with.  An independent designer is often not selling specific merchandise or cabinetry, we are able to work with the client to devise a design that absolutely fits all of their needs sorting items from a variety of options, finding all of the items that are exactly right for your specific project.  It is the designer who will look at and discuss all your ideas and present design options that will look right for your space. 
 
When you are working with a designer who has a team of preferred contractors, you can move through the project seamlessly. Design is a process and moving from concept to completion involves numerous phases and steps. A conceptual design is prepared, including space planning, floorplans, and elevations. Revisions are made if needed and design changes might still have to be made in progress should unexpected and issues arise once walls are opened up. Professional designers know how to navigate through this process so that everyone on site knows exactly what they are building, what materials and items are being used and how to present this information to everyone that needs it at the right time. Products and materials are sourced and ordered well before construction begins, this avoids delays during construction which extend the length of your overall project. This is the best way to ensure that all that time and money that you invest in that new kitchen will give you the desired results.
 
Before starting on the path of a kitchen renovation project hire a qualified interior designer to ensure the success of your project.
 
Until next time,
Gia

Preparing Your Pets For Your Renovation

We all love our pets and we know our client’s want to be sure that their pets are safe and comfortable during their upcoming renovation.

All of us at Designs by Gia Interior Design and Renovation and our team of contractors and tradesmen love interacting with your pets. But we know that it can be startling for pets to have everyone converging on their home at once. We find that it helps to take the time to introduce ourselves slowly to our client’s animals to help them get familiar with us. Construction can be dangerous for animals and workers if pets are underfoot all the time. So as much as we love having them around, our first concern is always for their safety. Most pets actually do quite well with the renovation going on in their homes. Dogs especially seem to like all of the action and most of them quickly except their new construction friends. Cats usually aren’t quite as excited about their owner’s projects but are very good at removing themselves from the daily activity, and reappearing at the end of the workday.

Designs by Gia Interior Design. New England Interior DesignerWe want to share a few tips to help prepare your pet for your upcoming renovation.

1. Provide a safe area for your pets. Construction involves a lot of loud noises, strange power tool sounds, banging of hammers, and unfamiliar voices. This can cause some pets a lot of anxiety.  Always provide a safe area out of the construction zone for your pets to retreat. This can help your pets adjust to a house full of unfamiliar people and noises.

2. Notify your contractors if you have anyone other than yourself coming into the house during the day to feed or walk your animals. If you are not home during the days when construction is taking place, it is helpful to know who else is allowed into your home to interact with your animals.

3. A few days before the renovation starts you might want to relocate your pets food and water bowl if it’s in the area of the renovation. This might help them to adjust to their things being moved on the day of demolition. This is especially important during a kitchen renovation, as their meals might be disrupted.Designs by Gia Interior Design. New England Interior Designer

4. Also, let your contractors know if your animal is an indoor pet or is prone to a quick escape. This will help whoever is working on your home know what is normal for your animal and we will take extra care while entering and exiting the home.

5. During construction always leave a contact phone number where you can be reached if you are not home during the renovation hours. This is important for numerous reasons while renovating, but this also allows us to contact you if there are any issues regarding your pet.

6. Doggie Day Care. Many homeowners worry about their pets during the renovation. But I will say most pets adjust after a few days and actually welcome all of the activity. If you feel as though your pet might not welcome all of the action and it might cause them too much stress, make arrangements in advance for doggy daycare or boarding of some sort during the times of construction that you feel might be the most stressful for your animal.

7. Also, think about your pets needs as far as any accommodations needed in your new design. For instance, maybe a designated area in your new kitchen renovation just for dog food or your dog bowls might be easily worked into the kitchen design. If you have large dogs you might want to make a designated doggy wash station in your new mudroom renovation plan. I once designed a special sunroom for my client’s cats, because cats enjoy a newly designDesigns by Gia Interior Design. New England Interior Designered  and renovated space too.

Usually, after renovation, when everything calms down we often hear that our client’s pets miss all of the activity and construction friends that they’ve gotten used to being in their home all day.  So we know they enjoy it when we stop back in for a quick visit, to finalize details or to discuss the next design project. We remember fondly several of the numerous beautiful pets that we’ve gotten to know over the years, a few of them are not around anymore but all are remembered by us for their love of great design and construction….Gus, Diesel Dog, Sammy, Poncho, Ginger, Henri, Huck, Sig, Oliver, Prada, Willie, and Maggie. Of course, we can’t forget our feline friends including “best team player” Pebbles the cat who endured an entire house renovation, cleared the entire construction space of mice, and was still happy to pose patiently during the final photo session.

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Selecting Appliances For Your Renovation

Choosing appliances for your renovation.Designs by Gia Interior Design. Web Site Design by inConcert Web Solutions.

One of the issues that often gets a renovation started, is when older appliances start to fade or stop working completely. At that point it’s a good time to consider the entire kitchen and whether or not it’s time for a full renovation, before trying to just replace that old appliance.

Older appliances that are built into an existing kitchen are sometimes hard to replace with appliances of the same dimensions, years or decades later. So replacing an appliance might not be as easy as just replacing a refrigerator or a built-in oven into an existing spot in your current cabinetry. So before purchasing a new appliance, check those measurements, trying to retrofit a new appliance but making changes to existing cabinetry often is costly and usually never looks quite right. Also, if the flooring was installed in front of and not under your dishwasher, removing that dishwasher might require opening up that flooring.

If you decide that you are going to take a look at doing a full-scale renovation of your kitchen, then looking at the age of the remaining appliances. That brand new freestanding refrigerator might be able to be incorporated into the new kitchen design, but I would hesitate to re-install a 20-year-old wall oven with its older dimensions, into a new custom sized cabinet, only for that appliance to reach its lifespan a few years after the renovation. If you are ready to do a full renovation with new appliances, the selection of those appliances is done very early in the kitchen design process as appliance selections dictate the placement of the appliances in the new layout.  There are so many options to choose from when it comes to new appliances for your kitchen.

For cooking, there’s gas, electric, and induction, the selection of what system to go with should be done first and will be determined by many factors.

Designs by Gia Interior Design. Web Site Design by inConcert Web Solutions. Do you currently have natural gas or propane in your home? Or are you willing to bring in propane if you really desire a gas range Induction is a newer magnetic technology and performs a lot like gas in that it gives instant heat, this technology might be worth exploring if you like the control of a gas range. We use it often for projects and I enjoy using it in my own home.

Wall ovens, steam or speed ovens, convection ovens, warming drawers, grills, griddles… these are just a few cooking elements that could be purchased as separate units or could be features included in a range.  Also, the size of the range should be determined early on in the design process as it dictates the cabinetry layout and the ventilation needed for the range hood as requirements are determined by the range.

There are so many options for refrigeration as well, There is a French door refrigerator with refrigeration on top and a freezer on the bottom, allowing these units to be placed wherever needed in the kitchen. A traditional side-by-side refrigeration and freezer. Also, these elements can be purchased in separate columns freezer and refrigeration and added wherever desired in the layout. There are also drawers that can be integrated for refrigeration and freezer. The size of the space and the configuration of the space will help you determine what appliances look proportioned to your space. Determine what features you are looking for, then depending on the size and layout of the space, keep your mind open to some items that might make better sense for your kitchen design based on suggestions from your kitchen designer.

Appliance styles range from a very industrial commercial look to a super-contemporary sleek look, to a retro looking appliance with today’s modern features. Stainless steel is still the most popular finish in today’s kitchen, experts predict that this will continue.  But we are seeing some stainless finished with a brushed look or a tinted look, as fingerprints are a little less visible on these newer stainless finishes.

We are also seeing some manufacturers introduce colored appliances, which visuallyDesigns by Gia Interior Design. Web Site Design by inConcert Web Solutions. is a nice change from all the stainless, but is very taste specific.  Its impossible to predict what we are actually going to be seeing in appliance 10 years from now, so I advise clients to go with the look that they really love, unless they are getting ready to sell their home, in which case you might want to update a little more generically when it comes to appliance choices.  Choosing your appliance is one of the many steps involved in completing a kitchen design and renovation. Be sure to involve a design professional from the beginning of the process to ensure that you are creating a kitchen space that you will enjoy for many years to come.

Featured Project-Voted Most Popular!!

Designs By Gia Interior DesignThis space saving, classic kitchen, that we completed 2 years ago, is loaded with traditional charm. It has recently captured the attention of Houzz viewers making it the 6th most popular kitchen on Houzz in 2019.  This kitchen has now been published four times, twice as a featured project on Houzz, and it has also been featured on Bob Vila.com as part of a recent article, and again yesterday as a featured article. Since this kitchen seems to be a viewer favorite right now, so I thought I might take you behind the scenes a bit to tell you a little more about this project and the design of this kitchen.

This kitchen lives in a beautiful classic 1800’s home.Designs By Gia Interior Design. The current owners, my clients, were not in love with the 1980s remodel that was done by the previous owners of this home as it stripped the kitchen of any of its traditional architecture. It really didn’t blend well with the rest of this beautiful home. So after working with them on numerous other projects throughout the home, these long-time clients turned to me to design and build their new kitchen space.

I created a design plan creating a beautiful large kitchen, expanding the space into the adjacent rooms and opening up to the backyard. My clients loved this design plan, but other projects took precedence, so after a few additional years, my clients were now ready to proceed with the kitchen project. Their overall goals for the property did change since we first looked at this project, and my clients decided that they did not want to enlarge or expand the small kitchen by opening it up to the adjacent rooms, as this would mean losing an adjacent study and bathroom. So, I went back to the drawing board to create a kitchen in the existing kitchen space that fulfilled their new goals and created a beautiful functional space within the existing kitchen area.

Designs By Gia Interior DesignThis kitchen design consisted of additional storage and cabinetry, additional countertop space, and a small space to sit and have a cup of coffee in the morning. We added new cabinetry, which now extends to the ceiling removing the old soffits. We worked around 3 existing doorways which were to remain in place, old radiator piping which remained, and we replaced the 2 existing windows with larger windows which were more proportioned to the space and took full advantage of the natural light. Careful planning allowed for additional cabinetry adjacent to the peninsula, which added more storage. A metal pegboard in cobalt blue created a small pot rack on the side of the refrigerator panel, creating more storage.

This new design, like my former design, honored this home’s traditional architecture but added light, and a fresh feel to the space using updated colors and material selections. A custom mix of glass tile created the backsplash, white quartz with the look of classic marble, created a classic but user-friendly countertop. A white porcelain farmer’s sink is a focal point in this kitchen, custom window treatments, maple flooring, and gleaming hardware added to the milky white cabinetry allowed this kitchen to now blend with the classic architecture in the rest of the home. New stainless steel appliances were also added, and really update the way this kitchen looks and functions.

The adjacent pantry area was also renovated, just off the main kitchen, we removed old dark pine cabinetry, added a doorway to the adjacent dining room which created a better traffic flow through the home. We designed and installed beautiful custom navy blue cabinetry with lots of storage and counter top space, which the owner uses for entertaining.

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My clients are now loving this newly renovated kitchen space. This new kitchen contains many of the elements of a much larger kitchen and melds beautifully with the rest of the house which we have also designed renovated over the last few years.  Finally, my client’s get to enjoy their new kitchen space as much as they enjoy the rest of this beautiful home.

Gia

 

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