when taking on an interior refurbishment or a structural remodel. Have in mind ’Lagom’, the Swedish word for ‘just the right amount’ - a simpler more considered building is better than extreme shapes or enormous proportions.
We’ve recently been back in contact with a client who’s first home we first designed for over ten years ago. Now they’ve moved on to a new (old) ‘project’ house but are having problems with how best to proceed, after having a couple of architects involved. More importantly the cost to build these concepts would ‘exceed’ the value of the finished property - by a staggering amount. So again, we are being considered to take over from an architect. This is not an unfamiliar set of circumstances where a client’s brief, budget or best interests have not been listened to!
Many aspects can be resolved over time and with additional funds. But with lots of design, planning and a realistic overview of the room function, including finishes, materials, lighting, kitchens, bathrooms and all the furniture - freestanding & fitted, not forgetting the window treatments, many of the potential issues can be avoided, staged or even removed all together. All before discovering how much everything is going to cost for a build/renovation that you are now committed too!
Or you may even decide to scale back plans for that extra ensuite or the even bigger extension - even though you have planning permission to go for the max. We’ve seen how frustrated clients can get when the reality on what they’re building, does not live up to the dream. And we know if they could do it again - they would do it a little differently. Over the years we’ve had direct experience with several projects that just spiralled out of control - or didn’t get finished, because the client and/or architect do not factor in the total cost ‘including’ all of the interior and life implications. This in turn can lead to much frustration, compromise and even an underwhelming result - for what was supposed to be their perfect home.
To help anyone thinking of a major renovation or new design & build project. Here’s a few pointers to highlight the potential issues that may come later in the process for any project - regardless of size or budget.
A significant home improvement project - whether it’s an interior refurbishment or a structural remodel, rates high on the list of life’s most stressful and expensive experiences. But that kitchen or orangery extension, extra bathroom or the ‘rabbit warren’ of rooms and mis-matched architecture that just doesn’t make sense, won’t come into being until you make it happen. It doesn’t have to be a battle or that upsetting if you’re aware of what you’re in for - from the beginning!
Plan and prepare. The more time and effort you invest in the run-up to your project, the better. So establish at an early stage whether you need assistance from any other professionals and more importantly, which one is right for you - an architect or architectural interior designer, a builder, structural engineer or quantity surveyor? Each bring expertise and getting it right may be essential to a successful outcome for your project.
A clear brief. Even if you don’t know exactly what you want structurally, just listing your lifestyle requirements, timeframe/longevity in the property or overall budget level, often leads to a result. The more detail included here, no matter how insignificant you feel it may be, the best solution will be found.
Expect upheaval. Building works of any scale bring disruption and dirt! Major work may require that you move out for the duration. Factor in this cost too - emotionally (staying with friends or relatives) or financially (renting nearby). If you are staying put, plan in advance how you (and family and pets) will live around the project. Consider dust management. Do rooms need to be sealed off or a temporary sink installed somewhere.
Avoid lat minute changes. Even minor changes can lead to cost over-runs and time delays which can quickly spiral out of control and be difficult to monitor. The more decisions you make in advance, the quicker materials can be ordered and work progressed. Countless decisions will still need to be made along the way, all of which, of course, will be flagged as urgent. Dealing with this detail will, hopefully, be made easier in the context of the clear vision that you have formed for your home with your designs - from the very start.
Stay focused. Building work tends to be all-consuming with a unique, frantic pace of its own. Always having the bigger-picture in mind will help you maintain perspective and the energy levels needed to bring the project to fruition.
Don’t expect perfection. Every aspect will be scrutinised and agonised over but if keeping to an overall timescale. budget level or design aesthetic, these things will fade into the layers when completed.