Working From Home During Your Renovation

Working From Home During Your Renovation

You might have been planning your home renovation project for some time. If you have hired a design and build company like mine, you have a designer/project manager overseeing your project from start to completion.

You knew this was the right choice since you need to keep focused on work and certainly don’t have the time or desire to be learning how to be a designer and a renovation manager at the same time. You also know that you want professional-level results, and you value the skills and experience of professionals. Now you can concentrate on your job and career knowing the project is in good hands.

There is one thing you might not have anticipated…that you might be working from home during the renovation process. 

broken floor tile

Working from home is now the new normal, and homeowners everywhere are settling into their new working environment. Most people are enjoying the new freedom of working in their home environments. No long commute, all the comforts of home, and increased productivity. (see my previous blog article, pro tips for working from home)

Now that your project start date is approaching, and with the recent construction and renovation boom, you are delighted that you have booked this project in advance and with a firm that has you on their schedule.  So, of course, you are ready to start and see the results of your thoroughly planned project. But now, how are you going to handle having a house filled with construction while you are working from home and having daily zoom calls?

Here are some tips for working from home during your renovation:

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ONE

Discuss any additional projects as soon as possible with your designer/project manager. For example, you may have decided that you want to set up a work area in a bedroom away from the renovation activity. You may need a desk, additional electrical outlets, a comfortable desk chair, or further assistance moving furnishings into a place where you can work comfortably. We would be glad to assist our clients with these things, and often we do. The sooner we know this, the better we can help you with getting settled. Your designer can source out the additional furniture items that you might need and will be familiar with the new projected lead time of different vendors and companies.

TWO 

Discuss the renovation process as far as what areas of the house will need to be cleared out or inaccessible during construction. Sometimes homeowners are unaware of how much space will be affected during renovation or construction. We try to prepare our clients for this. For instance, if we are working on a bedroom renovation, we will need to clear out everything in the bedroom until the project is complete to have access to walls, ceiling, flooring, and to have space to bring in the necessary tools to work on the project. This could affect the question of where is the best place to set up that temporary working space.

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THREE

Contact your project manager with your questions as they have all of the information on your renovation project. When working with a design and build firm, all contractors and artisans have been well informed by the project manager as to what they are making and all of the details involved. Although now that you are home watching the process, it is hard not to get distracted with questions about the process. Questions are always welcomed and answered quickly and thoroughly by my firm and most reputable professionals. The on-site plumber or electrician might not know all the details of things that don’t pertain to his part of the project. Your project manager will answer your questions quickly so you can have the answers you are looking for, so you can then be able to concentrate on your work.

 

FOUR

Even in the most well planned and prepared renovation, there will be construction noise. Not fun when you are trying to work or make that zoom call to a colleague. When you need some quiet, plan an alternative working space to give yourself a little break. Even as someone who is no stranger to daily construction noise, numerous renovations for clients, as well as my own home, I found myself in this position a few years ago when I had my crew re-finish all of the floors in my home. Although my office was isolated, I got to a point where I couldn’t take another 8 hours of floor sanding noise. I made my escape and spent a few working offsite in a quiet coffee shop. The peace and quiet, and maybe the extra caffeine, allowed me to be more productive in those very focused hours than if I had stuck it out at home. Removing myself allowed my crew to work more efficiently without worrying about clearing a path for me whenever I needed to walk through to the less than accessible bathroom. Just know that we feel your pain. No one enjoys living on a renovation site, much less working on one. Just know that we are doing whatever we can to lessen the impact yet still complete your project with high-quality work, efficiently, and with as little disruption to your work as possible

 

FIVE

Know that the renovation process is only temporary. Once your renovation is complete, and you can enjoy your new space, you will be so glad that you invested the time, money, and a little inconvenience to reap the benefits of your newly designed and renovated space. We also know that working from home can be a bit isolating. Some clients miss all the activity and progress in their home once the renovation is complete, and quickly start planning the next project. We love nothing more than continuing to plan with you for your next project.

 

Until next time,
Gia

 

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Tips For Designing And Renovating Your Condo

Tips For Designing And Renovating Your Condo

Condos provide a great lifestyle, especially for homeowners that don’t want to worry about exterior maintenance, landscaping, and the many chores of homeownership.

The advantage is that you do own the space, and in most cases, you can treat the inside of your condo however you’d like. However, every condo is different. The beautiful waterfront condo that we renovated in Charlestown Massachusetts had a whole different set of guidelines for interior renovations, then the condos we renovated in Foxborough, or Arlington, Massachusetts.

broken floor tile

 

When renovating, most condos have condo associations or a homeowners group that sets the rules, guidelines, and requirements needed. Every association or group regulates things differently, and so the preparation for a design and renovation project is essential.

Here are some tips and things to consider when thinking about the design and renovation of your condo.

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ONE

Contact the homeowners association or the condo board several months before you’re considering renovating. Sometimes there is a long process to go through to get permission and approvals that might be needed by the association for your renovation. If your particular condo association does require any approvals for interior work, you would much rather know this before starting the design and improvement of the space. Involve your designer/contracting team early on. Doing so will help prepare the proper drawings to present to your association if needed or required.

TWO

When designing an interior space of a condo, think about ways that you can utilize your space wisely when it comes to the storage and flow of your floor plan. Some condos have a very conventional floor plan; others have a unique floor plan. It’s essential to think about how you want to use the space and reconfigure the floor plan so that it works for you. Sometimes the series of small rooms can be opened up to create ample fully functional space, which can be more user-friendly than a lot of small rooms. Sit down with your designer early on to discuss all of the options before you dive into a project. Keep in mind; you might love what your neighbors have done with their similar unit; however, don’t limit yourself to what they have done, explore the possibilities of making your condo a unique design that works for you and your lifestyle.

THREE

Consider the natural light in the space and devise ways to utilize it or enhance it if needed. Some condos come with the benefit of large amounts of natural light; this can be wonderful. Still, it also can be a challenge in the area of privacy or controlling that natural light when needed as no one wants to be fully exposed with a wall full of windows at night, especially if you are in the city. Middle condos may lack in the area of natural light. Light may only be coming in from the front in the back of your condo. Adding additional natural light in your renovation project, opening up space from front to back will not only improve the floor plan and the flow, but it also increases the natural light as it now pours in through the entire space. Because of the lighting in your condo, a particular amount of consideration needs to be placed on color selection, as this can help to enhance and balance whatever lighting issues you are dealing with in your condo.

FOUR

When renovating your condo, depending on how your building is built, contractors, plumbers, and electricians might need access to adjacent units to renovate your space. Renovations should be discussed early on with your team of contractors and, if required, with your neighbors. Has access to wiring, plumbing, etc. might slow down your renovation if you do not have access to adjacent neighbors if needed. Any potential impact to adjacent units if this applies should be discussed in the design phase of the project. Doing so will save you a lot of hassle later on during the time of construction.

FIVE

Find out if there are any working restrictions in your building or complex. Again all condos in associations are different. Some buildings have various requirements for contractors coming in and out and working in the building. For instance, hours that contractors are allowed to work in the building, reserving an elevator for transportation of construction items. Parking, or other construction issues that could be required while working in the building to the building in general. Always try to find out what requirements the building has before your project begins. This will allow you and your contractors to plan accordingly. For instance, in a building in which you must reserve an elevator up to a week’s notice is sometimes required so that the building’s elevator can be covered and padded to avoid damage. This is not something that you want to find out the day that your contractor shows up with your kitchen cabinets, but he is ready to install. Taking the time to find out the rules in your building not only prepares you in the way for the timing of the project tasks, but it also helps you to define the additional costs for your project.

SIX

Enjoy the process of planning your condo and personalize it, add architectural details, and customized finishes or furnishings. Creating a beautiful condo can be a challenge, but with some preparation, with the proper process, you will be sure to have the best design for your home!

 

Until next time,

Gia

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The Real Cost of Free Design Advice

The REAL Cost of Free Design Advice.

In the age of having information available everywhere, there is no shortage of free advice in many areas in which we might need assistance.  We can find numerous individuals anywhere with the click of a computer key. We are willing to decide that these search results know as much, or more, than the experts? They are willing to give free advice about an upcoming surgical procedure that you might need, how to do your own electrical work, legal issues or free advice on how you should invest your money. But of course, there is always no lack of free interior design and renovation advice. These well-meaning individuals with a little bit of knowledge can be costing you quite a bit when it comes to advice for designing your home.

broken floor tile

Recently, while doing my weekly Instagram posts, I noticed a popular design blogger doing a video in which she was giving advice to the masses about selecting tile for a bathroom project in her home. In this video she was recommending a tile that was not suitable for use on floors as a great selection for a floor tile. And then outlined her process of making design selections as follows: “First I look at every store I could find until I had seen everything and then I ask everybody I know (family, friends, etc.) for their opinion before I made my selection.” This, for the record, is actually some of the worst design advice that I’ve ever seen in regards to making a design decision. This very lovely, well-meaning person, whose design experience consists of selecting seasonal accessories for her own home, is now giving advice as to how to select the tile for YOUR home. This blogger actually uses an architectural interior design firm for her home, a fact that usually gets omitted when passing out design advice to followers. So for her home, most of her ideas will be filtered and developed by the pros before they are implemented in her home, something that you might not have when taking action on her design advice. This is a sure way to lead your project astray before you even start.

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My point to this is to be careful where you get your advice. Free advice could actually be quite costly in the end. 

How can that be?  

FIRST

Consider where the advice comes from and the level of experience with professional projects. People that don’t have the level of experience working on professional projects oversimplify the things that have to be considered when making selections. Especially for things like tile for construction-based selections because they do not know what they do not know. Just because you want to be an expert in design or have good taste when shopping for things doesn’t make you an expert in design.

In fact, the only thing that makes you a real expert is many years of practical full-time experience working on different homes with different materials for different clients, with different sets of circumstances at each project, day in and day out. Even then you are always continuing to learn when presented with each unique challenge, but you are armed with a developed skill set that will navigate these challenges and that allows you to successfully sail through what could be devastating and expensive problems for the inexperienced designer.

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However harmless it might seem to take a little design advice, a selection of a tile that’s not meant for a floor can cause very expensive problems! First, if you find a tile installer to actually install this tile on the floor after you have purchased it, will probably cost you twice as much because of the time involved, extra labor involved, or overall liability since most likely the tile installer, who might have advised against this installation knows of the problems that will occur.

A thin veneer-like marble looking tile found in a quick Internet search and chosen because of its looks will not perform well as floor tile. Results can be expected such as cracking, safety issues, durability issues, and poor performance. So, you’ve just wasted thousands of dollars installing something suggested to you under the heading of “free design advice”. Who is going to pay the cost of repairs on this floor when it fails?

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SECOND

When a professional designer or experienced contractor steers you away from using certain items there is usually a good reason. Another design blogger writes about how “20 professionals told her not to use this product in her shower but she did it anyway and it looks great.” Yes, it might look great for a few weeks or months. The reason the professionals steer you toward certain product selections is because they have the knowledge of durability, longevity, quality,and safety. They also know that there are a lot more products out there that have a similar or superior look and perform better than the products that you’re looking at. Just because you came up with a beautiful piece of tile and you use it anyway does not mean that you know more than the pros, it means that you did not ask questions about why they don’t suggest these products. Smart homeowners will listen to professional advice and consider the risks when using a product that the pros think is not necessarily a good idea. Should you choose to proceed with that product at least you know the risks.

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THIRD

Consider how this free advisor is getting paid. Are you getting free advice from a retailer selling products? Their goal is to sell products, not necessarily to do what is best for the client, or suggest products that might be better for their project that might be available elsewhere. Usually, these free designers don’t have the ability to design a complete space through to completion or to see what other existing elements or challenges you might have in your home. Their job is to coordinate several pieces of furniture together to make a bigger sale, or to sell their cabinets. Therefore the design costs are built into product sales. All of this might be fine for a few small things and you might get lucky and find individuals with some level of skill in selecting nice pieces. But these are not the designers to design your home renovation projects. It’s always best, no matter how small or large your project, to choose a designer that has exposure and the ability to source product from many different manufacturers. This allows them to suggest a product that is absolutely right for you, your taste, and your budget.

In the end, the real cost of that “free design advice” is that your project may be even more costly than if you hired a professional, to begin with. But in addition to that cost, the final end results might not be the beautifully well-designed space you had imagined.

 

Until next time, 

Gia

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Preparing For Your First Meeting With A Designer

Why can't a renovation go any faster?

I get many questions about the process of working with a designer. Once I have an initial appointment set with a new client. I typically get asked if there’s something that they need to do to prepare for our first visit, so, I thought I might share a few thoughts about this today.

Congratulations, you’ve booked an appointment with a designer! You’ve done your homework, searched for a designer that specializes in some of the projects that you might want to consider in your home and now you’re on your way. You’ve committed to the process of working with a professional and you will reap the benefits throughout the process. Of course, with the finished results.

10 Ways To Cozy Up Your Home For Fall

Some people feel a little intimidated at first when inviting a designer into their home. Clients want to be sure that their ideas are heard and then, of course, the end product is going to be something that they love. Rest assured, as a designer, I am here to help you reach your goals, certainly not to judge you for your past design decisions or your current furniture. As a professional, my focus is to listen to your thoughts, frustrations, and ideas about your home and to prepare a design that gets you the best results. 

Most professional designers, like myself, have a process that they walk clients through. In the first initial appointment its best to talk about the ideas and to assess the project goals. This also lends help to other areas of the home that might be affected.

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In preparation for this meeting it can be helpful to think about a few things:

Your overall goal for your home, will you stay in the home for a while or will you be preparing the home to sell in a few years?

If you have an overall goal for the property, it is helpful to share these ideas with your designer as well.

Is there an area of your home that you want to focus on in the design process? Are you considering a kitchen or bath renovation or are you looking for a few design suggestions throughout your space?

If you have numerous renovation projects that you would like to tackle, then your designer can help you to develop a phased plan. Considering you might be living in your home at the time of the renovations. Or you might consider a temporary living space so that you can renovate your entire space at once. These are things to discuss with your designer so that you can approach the design and renovation process in the right order for you and the building process.

Think about the overall budget for the project. If you have an idea of what you would be able to spend on the project, this will help the designer to direct you toward a scope of work that is in line with your budget.

Project costs cannot be accurately figured without a detailed design or without a thorough inspection by trade professionals to assess the conditions of the home. However, if your designer has an idea of your budget, they can assist you with containing the scope of work. For instance, working on one room at a time or containing the project in other ways. You might feel like a project should cost a certain amount of money, however, construction cost, material costs, and code issues will dictate the reality of what a project cost will be.

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Now is the time to bring out that folder or idea board that you have been saving.

If you have ideas and design thoughts that you might like to see in your home, mention them or show them to your designer in that initial meeting. Your designer is gathering information about your likes and dislikes and about how you live. It is best to put all your ideas and thoughts into the conversation. Your designer will help you to keep the ideas that work for your situation and bring additional ideas to you that might suit your likes and home even better. The more information you share the more the design can be tailored to your tastes and needs.

Ask for suggestions, you might not have any idea what to do in your home, that’s why you called in a designer, right?

This is fine, in fact, it allows the designer to really do their best work, suggesting designs and ideas that you might not ever have imagined, keeping an open mind and trusting the process, giving feedback to your designer, these are all things that lead to incredible design results. If you have a designer on board that you can communicate with easily, this process will be very rewarding.

 Until Next Time,

Gia

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Why can’t a renovation go any faster?

Why can't a renovation go any faster?

Here is a question that many people ask during the process of any renovation. Why can’t this process go on my timeline? The answer to this question is very simple… renovation is much more complicated than it appears.

In recent years homeowners have been led to believe that renovating is a quick easy process. When watching a renovation on HGTV or YouTube you were not seeing every aspect of the renovation. Viewers are being marketed to in order to sell products and that is the goal here. Yes, you might pick up a few quick tips along the way, but this does not arm you with all the information needed to manage or conduct a renovation on your own. And this really doesn’t give you an accurate portrayal of what a professional renovation is like.

Yes, you will see massive transformations in a real-life professional renovation, sometimes even more profound than what you see on TV, But what you don’t see is the real process, in real life as professional designers and renovators, our goals are to create a massive transformation but also to create a home that our homeowners love and can function in safely for many years and to produce high-quality work and craftsmanship. 

10 Ways To Cozy Up Your Home For Fall

This requires much more work than a quick conversation about color or counter-top decisions, or a quick trip to a hardware store. From a design perspective, during a professional design and renovation project, much time is spent with the homeowner in the initial design process. Numerous meetings are spent with our clients. This is where I spend time assessing their needs listening to their concerns and wish lists and then, of course, creating an initial detailed design.

This process, if it is done correctly, takes some time. The lead up to your renovation requires time and thorough planning. Any time steps are skipped in this early process results in backtracking during your renovation. This is where most renovations go astray.  Having inadequate preparations or incomplete designs can cost homeowners weeks/months or longer.

The next thing that makes renovations take long is not being prepared with qualified contractors and knowing the process and protocols of working with contractors. If you’re renovating on your own and you’ve decided to demo over the weekend, don’t expect to call a plumber on Monday and have them drop everything to do your rough-in plumbing. All contractors have schedules and book projects in advance (sometimes several months in advance). This is something that can be avoided and will always make your renovation take longer.

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The next thing that makes the renovation take long is not being prepared with product selections. Different products require different preparation. For instance, if you’re doing a tile back-splash, the preparation work that would need to happen if you decide on a glass tile is much different then if you’re doing a porcelain tile or marble. So not knowing what the selection is far enough in advance of the preparation work will cause some backtracking. If your contractor is ready to put in the back-splash and you haven’t started shopping for a back-splash tile yet your project is now on pause and sometimes this forces your contractors to have to move onto another project while they wait for your decisions. Product availability is another thing that takes your project into a longer time period.

The final reason that a renovation project takes long is you might have unrealistic expectations about how long a renovation actually takes. Because you don’t know all of the details that happen, or have to happen, before those kitchen cabinets are installed. You might look at your project and ask “why aren’t the kitchen cabinets going in yet?”. Sometimes there are numerous steps that have to be taken before you start to see a big visual. Example: kitchen cabinets floors must be leveled, walls must be leveled, rough-in plumbing and electrical must be done, insulation and any construction issues addressed when opening up walls, etc. These are things that have to be addressed before the cabinets are installed. Things must be done in the right order. Quality contractors will keep you informed when construction issues are found and explain what is happening. Even so, the amount of time that it takes it’s usually longer than you think it should be because you don’t know all of the steps involved.

It would be helpful to learn as much as you can about renovation before you begin. Although, sometimes a little knowledge is dangerous because you don’t know all of the common pitfalls and issues that could arise. Your renovation is best left in the hands of a professional from start to finish. Design and renovation of your home it’s a costly project but it becomes even more costly when experimenting or learning on your home. This is typically the number one reason a renovation project goes beyond your expected time frame. So, if you desire your renovation to go as smoothly and efficiently as possible with professional results, bring in the professionals early in the planning stages of your project. 

Until next time, 

Gia

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Redesigning and Renovating a Vacation Home

Redesigning and Renovating a Vacation Home

Are you thinking about redesigning and renovating a vacation home? Well, summertime is here and many people look forward to spending the season visiting their vacation home. Whether that be a lakeside cabin, an oceanfront home, or mountain retreat, a vacation home can be a place that greets you with all the comforts of home in a location that you love, where you can relax and spend time with family.  Or it can become a place that provides you with a burden of unfinished projects, maintenance issues and endless wish lists. 

A vacation home could be a property that’s been handed down for generations. If that’s the case, trying to design the space for modern living but keep the charm and history of this cherished property should be considered in the new design. Many times these properties have evolved over time with numerous additions or temporary design elements, a professional designer will be able to create a cohesive look knowing what to keep and what to change in the new design. 

Unlike renovating a main residence, with a vacation home, you have the freedom to plan the timing so that your vacation home is ready for you during the season that you want to use it. This involves careful planning. Timing is everything! For instance, if you’re planning on renovating a beach home it would be great if those renovations could be done in the winter. However, if the home is not a four-season home this could be problematic especially since proper temperatures are needed in order to work in the home or on his plumbing systems.

This is the case of one of our current projects located on the Northern coast of Massachusetts. Some vacation home properties require certain specific zoning requirements, conservation boards, or specialized code requirements, especially some waterfront locations, so extra planning time is needed to get specific approvals or permits.

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For this reason, it’s always best to involve a professional when renovating these types of properties as a professional can best advise you based on your set of circumstances and needs as to the best time of year to renovate your property.

Resources and Implementation

A professional also can bring in a team of tradespeople, as sometimes your vacation home is located outside of an area where you normally live. This can also be problematic as far as overseeing your renovation and finding local reliable tradespeople. Hiring a team that can take the project from design right through to completion overseeing all of the details will provide you with the best results, a professionally finished look, and planned with the most optimized timeline for the scope of your type of project. Transportation and deliveries to a vacation property could also have some challenges, these are things that pros deal with on a daily basis and will anticipate before they cause problems with your project.

Design

There are many things to consider as far as the design of a vacation property as your needs for the space might be very different from a home that is being used year-round. This might be a place where numerous family members gather or share the property, you might need to provide additional sleeping quarters for the family. You might entertain a lot more at this property so in some cases your kitchen might work harder in this home.

It is always best to start out with a thorough discussion as to a client’s needs for any property that we design and renovate. However, when beginning a vacation home project we discuss even further the unique needs with the homeowner while using this property and how we can design the space to meet those needs. 

When designing a vacation home (from a design perspective), I love to consider the outdoor environment’s influence on the design of the interior spaces. For instance, a color scheme of a beachfront property might be very different than that of a mountain cabin, and for good reason. I am a firm believer that the view of a property should influence, not compete, with the view. This is especially true for properties with prominent views.

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I love working with clients on vacation homes! It’s especially exciting when we have already designed another property for the client and now we can explore additional design projects with this client or a family that we have enjoyed working with during their previous project. 

I’ll be anxious to show you the final results of our current vacation home project! 

Remember that the design of any home can give you all the comforts of a vacation! Especially if it’s designed to do so! 

Until next time,

Gia

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