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

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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

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Craving Diversity

I have a housing dilemma! My husband and I are planning to move from our quaint little 850 sq.ft. house in St. James to a new home within the next 3-5 years. Being a designer, who works primarily in the residential sector, I am constantly watching real estate listings and looking to see what is out there. We have the basic wish list that anyone starts with when looking for a new home…

  • Itemized spaces (kitchen, dining room, 2 bathrooms, master suite + 3 bedrooms, etc)
  • Area (good neighbourhood, close to amenities & parks)
  • Quality of craftsmanship (architectural details, solid foundation, etc)

When I watch the real estate market I get frustrated by our world of mass production and the repetitive rows of houses built from the same footprint. Older communities are slightly camouflaged by the renovations & changes that have been made over the years by previous homeowners.

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My frustration sets in with the lack of diversity and character within the housing market. I want friends & family to drive up to our house saying, ‘of course this is where Travis & Carrie live.” I crave modern clean lines, custom design details, and a unique and intriguing layout of the house that is outside of the box. My husband is more of a vintage man so our ideal house would likely be a revival of a 1950/60s mid-century modern gem.  The last thing I want is to move onto a street where the house next door is the exact same model with a different paint finish (insert gagging sounds here).

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So here are our options:

  • Build New within the communities popping up on the outskirts of the city
  • Find an infill lot & build new
  • Find an older home & renovate

Likely we will end up choosing option #3 as we don’t want to live on the outskirts of the city where the neighbourhoods are not developed and are far away from downtown core where we both work. Building on an infill lot is intriguing but difficult to do and often expensive & your options are limited. So option #3 seems like the best fit although in the past couple years I’ve come across 1 maybe 2 houses that would actually fit our list of criteria & would be adaptable to our style.

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So I am left questioning, I am the only person in Winnipeg that feels this way?

How many other home buyers are facing the same obstacles?

So if you are like me, I will leave you with a challenge.  Never settle. I challenge home buyers to expect more, not to be OK with a standard model. Be Bold! Be Daring! It is my opinion that it is not OK for us all to live in the same spaces. We are all individuals with different passions, interests & ways of life. Take the time to shop the market or build a custom home. Never take for granted the value of your homes personalization and character and if you don’t know how to achieve your goals give me a call.

Carrie

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Get Me Out of the Office!

Sometimes you just need to grab your laptop, a cozy sweater and a bottle of wine, and get the heck out of dodge!

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That’s just what we’ve done. My lovely ladies and I spent a few days last week at a cottage out on Lake Winnipeg, taking time away from the office to…well honestly…get some work done! Some things just don’t seem to accomplished when you’re sitting at your desk downtown where the ‘dings’ of your email and phone are never ending. So we decided to pack our bags and get out into nature for a few days.

 

Road Trip!

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We so often talk about how we can improve our clients’ spaces by integrating more daylight, by bringing that natural environment into their living or working spaces, and by really just connecting them to nature. Honestly, these past few days have been a testament to these intentions. The moment we arrived at our cozy little cottage, and stepped out onto the dock, we were greeted with the most beautiful view of the lake and forest. We took a deep breath of fresh, crisp, November air and all of a sudden, we were one with nature.

So why do we as humans want…no, CRAVE this connection to the outdoors? Well, essentially we’re biologically pre-programmed to seek connections with the outdoors and other forms of life. It’s intuitive. It’s how we started out on this planet and it’s how we were meant to live. Here are a few benefits from connecting with nature…

  1. people are healthier, happier and perhaps even smarter and more creative
  2. children with ADD, asthma, obesity and stress feel positive effects
  3. adults in workplaces connected to nature are more productive, healthy and creative
  4. patients in hospitals that have a view to the outdoors have faster healing times

These few days away, sitting on the edge of the water, surrounded by the beauty of nature, has sure made us a lot more relaxed, focused, creative and seriously productive!

Other than work, we had loads of fun just getting away from our daily grind. Took walks in the woods (I totally thought Tracy was taking us out there to … maybe… streamline the company…). Tried to make a fire…with wet logs…and an old issue of Cottage Life from 2004. It did not go well. Don’t ask Carrie. Or ask where the bottle of paint thinner ended up.

Here are some of the highlights of the 1st Annual S3 Retreat!

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Get outdoors people, it’s good for the soul!

Until the next S3 Retreat!

Elaina

Elaina S3

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We’re moving in January 2015!

First off, apologies for being quite silent on the blog lately. No excuses, really. Just ‘stuff’ getting in the way. However, we’re making loads of changes at S3 and are finding more time to make sure you guys are up-to-date with all the great things happening with us.

One of the biggest pieces of news is that we will be moving to a new office in January! S3 Interior Design will ring in the new year at 44 Princess Street in one of Winnipeg’s coolest neighborhoods, the Exchange District.

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photo credit: otours.net

All of us in the office are so excited to be moving to such a vibrant part of the city, where we will feel more connected to Winnipeg’s hot design community. We can’t wait to meet our new neighbours, attend fabulous events, visit shops at our fingertips and have a some green space around us (well in the summer months at least)!

Check out our rough new digs.

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Here is our new space (BEFORE)… we’re kicking around some great ideas to make this space all our own, and distinctively S3 sustainable. Stay tuned on here, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or even Pinterest to see the process.

And if I have anything to do with it (and I know I do), it’s going to have killer lighting!

What else is happening with us?!

  1. Well, we’ve decided to focus a department on Architectural Lighting Design, headed by yours truly (More on this to come).
  2. All of us in the office are starting to volunteer at organizations that are near & dear to us. See how we’re giving back to the community.
  3. We’re going to be on CJOB this Friday morning (November 21st) at 5.30am. Be sure to tune in to hear us, most likely, make fools of ourselves (but we’re ok with that).
  4. We’ve just finished designing our first ever Airport Kiosk for our favourite local star, Obby Khan and his Green Carrot Juice Co crew. We can’t wait to show you the final design!
  5. We’ve hired a new designer, Heather! She’s young and fun, and keeps us on our toes.

There’s loads more, but I’ll keep you guys updated more often. This is going to be one exciting year at S3.

See you in the Exchange!

Elaina

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