Realities of Renovating- Part 2 : DIY vs. Bring in the Professionals

A few weeks ago I started a blog series titled: ‘Renovations: Reality vs. “Reality” TV’.   My goal is to share with you years of experience in the design / building industry and to offer some insight on how to best prepare for the realities of renovating.  Let’s dig into step 1 of 3:

Understand the scope of your project.  Is it a ‘do it yourself-er’ or do trained professionals need to be involved? If it’s the latter, then become knowledgeable on what types of professional are available and their roles.

D.I.Y. has been a popular acronym for the past 20 years or so.  (Actually according to Wikipedia, it was introduced in 1912 and came in to common usage in the 1950’s, but it really took hold once the world wide web and HGTV came along.) D.I.Y. primarily exists in the residential realm where homeowners plug into websites like Pinterest, Houzz, and You Tube where endless creative ideas exist.  Do-It-Yourself is meant for simple projects where weekend warriors can roll up their sleeves, put in some time and elbow grease, save some money and feel proud about the fruits of their labour.  IKEA was born out of the D.I.Y. movement. (A favourite place of mine, I’m not going to lie.)

 

 

 

 

 

‘It’s lovely. Have you actually built a flat-pack kitchen before?’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So when does a project go from D.I.Y. to “bring in the professionals”?  Here’s a top 5 list that indicates you should start hiring:

  1. Your renovation requires a permit and the stamp of a design professional.
  2. Your renovation requires structural, mechanical and / or electrical alterations.
  3. You have no design experience and don’t want to waste money on costly mistakes.
  4. You’ve never picked up a tool in your life and can’t decipher which end is up. Especially if the tools are sharp.
  5. Your time and energies are better spent focusing on what you’re good at so that you can pay a professional to do what they’re good at.

Once you’ve decided that your project is not a D.I.Y.er, what types of professionals should you be calling?  Here’s a list of options and the types of work they do:

Architect:  A licensed professional responsible for planning, designing, and reviewing the construction of buildings.  They create total environments, focusing heavily on the building shell. Architects often act as the prime (coordinating) consultant on major building / renovating projects, especially commercially.

Interior Designer:  A professional responsible for designing functional and creative design solutions for interior environments. They work within the building shell to design for the health, safety and well-being of occupants. Interior Designers often act as the prime (coordinating) consultant on interior focused commercial or residential projects.

Architectural Lighting Designer: A professional responsible for the design of lighting systems, including  the control of natural light, electric light, or both, to enhance and strengthen design and to  serve human needs. They work closely with Architects, Interior Designers and Electrical Engineers.

Structural Engineer: A professional responsible for ensuring that structures to withstand stresses and pressures imposed through environmental conditions and human use. They make sure the building doesn’t fall down.

Mechanical Engineer: On a building or renovation project, the Mechanical Engineer is the professional responsible for the design, construction, and testing of mechanical systems.  This often focuses on heating, cooling, fire protection, plumbing and air quality systems.

Electrical Engineer: On a building or renovation project, the Electrical Engineer is the professional responsible for the design, construction, and testing of electrical devices.  This often focuses on calculating & distributing electrical loads, wiring, communication & building controls and specifying electrical systems.

General Contractor:  A general contractor, or G.C., is hired to take the plans created by the professionals and bring them to reality.  He or she will orchestrate the comings and goings of the trades, order mate­rials, inspect the work done and coordinate an ever-changing schedule.

So now that you know when a project has gone beyond D.I.Y and the range of professionals available for hire, where do you go from here?

 

Start by talking with design professionals who specialize in the area most appropriate for your project (see definitions above).  Have phone conversations and / or face to face meetings with a few until you find someone you feel has the expertise you require and understands your needs. You’ll be working closely with this person / team, so don’t underestimate the importance of finding someone you mesh with.

In my next blog post we’ll dig deeper into how to establish clear goals and objectives. This will help you to focus yourself and the design professional(s) you select.

Until then, I wish you success in your D.I.Y. or in your search for the right team of professionals!

 

Tracy

tracy dyck photo

Renovations: Reality vs. “Reality” TV

Renovating …it’s a scary process, especially if you’ve never done it before.  There’s a lot on the line…time, money, mess, uncertainty (did I mention time and money?)  If you watch HGTV it goes something like this…

Dating phase: Client, designer and contractor meet and get to know each other.  Concepts are developed.  Everyone is starry eyed and the possibilities seem endless. There’s attraction in the air.

Honeymoon phase:  The design process begins.  Space planning is moving along nicely, materials and fixtures are touched and felt. The concept is starting to become a reality.  The love is tangible.

Reality phase:  Two ugly words rear their ugly heads…Budget and timelines.  “It’s going to cost how much and take how long???”  Hard decisions and compromises are made.  The frustration begins.

Reality phase 2: Construction starts.  Some of it goes smoothly, but some does not (there’s always an unexpected gem hiding in the walls, or under the floor, or in the ceiling.)  More money, more time, more compromises.  Someone might get strangled.

Joy:  The project is complete.  It took some turns along the way, but its good (actually its great), and the bumps & hiccups resulted in alternative creative solutions.  Everyone is proud of a job well done and feeling the love again.

The funny thing is that this process is actually pretty accurate (it’s really the only part of HGTV renos that reflect reality).  Construction projects run the gamut of emotions and they are NEVER perfect.  But there are ways to prepare.  Here are a few suggestions…

  1. Understand the scope of your project.  Is it a ‘do it yourself-er’ or do trained professionals need to be involved? If it’s the latter, then become knowledgeable on what types of professional are available and their roles.
  2. Determine very clear goals for the end result. For example, is the goal to “lipstick the pig”, or is it to create a customized space, or something in between?  All are valid options, but know what you’re shooting for, and make sure all decision makers are on the same page.
  3. Set realistic expectations for time and budget.  On HGTV you can do just about anything over the weekend and for $500.00.  NOT TRUE! (Unless the extent of your project is building an IKEA dresser.)  Your responses to #’s 1 & 2 will have a direct correlation to #3.

In my next blog posts, I’ll dig deeper into 1-3, offering some insight into understanding scope, setting goals and determining a budget and timelines.

Until then, happy renovation preparation!

Tracy

tracy dyck photo

‘Resimmercial’ Design

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This past June I attended my first NeoCon, a commercial interior design trade show that takes place each year at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, Illinois. It was an experience filled with inspiration, new ideas, and hours and hours of walking!!  As I wandered through the 4.2 million square feet of showrooms, I discovered that there was an interesting theme taking place.  It was this concept of combining residential + commercial design elements within the workplace.

Referred to as  ‘Resimmercial’, this idea incorporates the familiar, comfortable elements of home into the office, addressing our growing need for comfort and well-being in the workplace.

Here are the key features of ‘Resimmercial design’:

 

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1 – Warm & soft materials & finishes. Wood, wood and more wood! From workstations &  desks to boardroom tables and accent furniture wood was being used everywhere to warm up the office interior. Other warm & inviting materials commonly used were felt, cork, and even velvet!

 

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2 – Casual, collaborative spaces. The idea of taking the home office out of your home and bringing you back into commercial space. Done with casual, relaxed seating areas and interactive collaborative spaces. Many of the vendors also showcased the concept of providing space for amenities within the office. I saw many coffee lounges, and social spaces that resemble your living room.

 

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3 – Residentially inspired furniture pieces. Say goodbye to square edges and harsh corners, the ‘Resimmercial’ office has lots of tables with curved edges, and meeting room furniture that looks like it belongs in your dining room. Tired of the typical metal filing cabinets and metal shelving, why not introduce office storage that looks like it belongs in your living room?

 

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So if you looking to warm up your office interior this winter consider introducing some of these ‘Resimmercial’ design elements into your workspace. Let’s make your office feel more like home.

Janine

Janine photo

Design is an Art

The journey from design concept to reality can sometimes be a long and bumpy road. We often use 3D visuals to communicate our ideas to the client along the way. This is a helpful tool for designers, because rendering technology has become highly realistic. It is often a surreal feeling to step into a space that you’ve already imagined and “seen before.”

As someone who shed a single tear the first time I saw an original Frank Lloyd Wright perspective in person, I must admit I have a soft spot for hand-drawn renderings. There is something striking to me about the artistic quality of these perspectives that conveys the character of the work in a way computer generated images often lack. Maybe I don’t need all of the glossy details to get excited about design – I can feel the warmth and openness when I look onto the sketchy page. Call it Impressionism for Interior Design.

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That being said, I love using 3D programs and it has been an asset as we see our designs transform from concept to reality. Case in point – our latest completed work at the Winnipeg Airport; the Green Carrot Juice Bar.

This is the second location for Green Carrot (the original is located in Osborne Village). We were quite excited to translate their branding scheme to a new kiosk location at the airport to attract busy travelers. The challenge was while working within tight spatial constraints, to maximize the efficiency of a safe and tidy workspace. Emphasis was placed on both employee workflow and flow of customer traffic around the order and pick-up areas, while encouraging patrons to relax and enjoy their juice while recharging themselves (and their devices) in the built-in power stations. The client desired an inviting, fun and fresh space. The finishes included glossy white tile, wood beams, and vibrant accents of green.

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3D renderings were essential for this project as they allowed us to visualize the impact of the height of the columns, lighting details, and views from various points of approach in the airport. Something that would be infinitely time consuming if drawn by hand, and perhaps not as acutely accurate as our final renderings:

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Working in 3D allowed us the control to experiment with the design until we knew we had a stunning composition that would excite visitors and Winnipeggers alike!

Next time you’re heading out of town, check it out and let us know what you think! For more photos of this project, check out our Commercial Gallery.

 

Heather

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