11 tips for a successful renovation


Home Remodels, Renovations, and Additions can be overwhelming and stressful, even for the savviest. TrèSpace Studio has put together some tips and reminders to ensure your project is a fun and rewarding experience.

#01  Selective Idea Editing: 

Free yourself from the pressure of incorporating every inspiring concept you’ve ever seen.   Instead, consider splurging on just one or two carefully chosen items that you absolutely adore, and design everything else in simplicity around them.  For example, a reupholstered eames chair, a funky alien light fixture, or the sleek kohler karbon sink faucet; then scale back and allow all else to become supplementary background noise.  Less really is more.  A minimalist, uncluttered approach is not only proven to provide greater calm and increased happiness, but it tends to be budget-friendly too!

#02  Accommodate Yourself:

Based on your actual daily activities, create a written bullet-point list of project objectives to share with your Architect.  Are you an avid reader?  If so, add to the list “a comfy reading spot with a footrest and good task-lighting”.  Are you a foodie who loves to cook but doesn’t like the isolation of a separate kitchen?  If so, let your Architect know "the kitchen must have a direct connection to the living room, with a good view of the TV from the kitchen island."

#03  Re-Sale Marketability:

If impacts of your renovation on the resale marketability of your home are important to you, then consider keeping the overall square footage and quality of finishes in alignment with other neighborhood houses.  Both under-improving and over-improving can negatively influence the ROI (return on investment).

#04  Recognizing Limitations:

It isn’t easier than it looks.  While those of us in the industry await the inevitable DDIY (“Don’t Do it Yourself”) reality TV show, here’s a straightforward warning: Save yourself from yourself, and hire Professionals who are knowledgeable, skilled, and know the ropes.  Most construction work is required to be permitted and designed in compliance with local building codes.  Not doing so can not only be dangerous, but could also potentially invalidate your Homeowner’s Insurance.  Working with a licensed Architect during the planning and design phases will enable you to enter the Construction phase with detailed and comprehensive drawings which will significantly reduce unforeseen change orders.  Your Architect will also assist during the bidding process, and continue to make regular observations during construction to verify the work is proceeding in compliance with the Construction Documents.

#05  Realistic Budgeting:

Be realistic about your project budget and schedule.  It is not at all uncommon that construction takes longer and costs more than expected.  Before commencing, set aside an additional 'contingency' fund ranging from 15% to 25% of your overall construction budget.  Factors within your control that tend to reduce overruns include:  detailed advanced planning, having a complete and comprehensive drawing package before beginning construction, and your own speedy decision-making.

#06  Be an Asset, not a Weak Link:

Being a distraction or nuisance to your Contractor is detrimental to your own project.  Time is money, so constant disruptions will only cause project delays that will cost you in the end.  Allow your Contractor plenty of time and space to focus on the work at hand; keep children and pets out of the way; and make arrangements to live elsewhere during construction (unless there is a single dividing point between the livable space with separate access and the construction zone, where a wall or plastic barrier can easily be erected).

#07  Formal Contracts:

Having a well-written, formal, and legally-enforceable Contract is nothing short of invaluable.  Projects can (and sadly-enough plenty do) spiral out of control without a proper Owner-Contractor Agreement, which among other things helps to establish roles of responsibility and prevent unauthorized additions to project scope and cost.  Your Architect can get you started with a standard form of agreement that you can, if desired, have reviewed and further customized by legal counsel.

#08  Documentation: 

Document and Photograph every change made that will later be concealed.  This renovation may be your end-game, but the future buyer of your house will appreciate having the extra documentation, which makes your home more marketable.

#09  Build for Performance:

It's easy to focus on Aesthetics while neglecting Performance.  "It's how you look, not how you feel."  Right?  (Wrong!).  Building Performance is critical, so investing in building envelope and fenestration upgrades, and updating your mechanical, electrical, & lighting systems can significantly impact your comfort and your electric bill.  Not only that, but lighting also impacts the way everything looks, from your paint colors to your skin tone.

#10  Back for the Future: 

Renovating your house isn’t something you do every day, so while you're at it, put thought into planning ahead for the future.  While your walls are open (ex, drywall removed on one side), add some solid “backing” to support any potential future artwork, wall-mounted furniture, shelf brackets, or handicap grab bars where you may one day need them.  Also consider installing empty conduit so that down the road, you can easily add or update Audio-Visual wiring (ie, Surround Sound, HDMI, etc.) as technology changes.

#11  Color Scheming: 

If you're not naturally gifted at color schemology, there are many online resources to help establish a compatible color palette.  TrèSpace Studio's advice:  When in doubt, default to a crisp version of White with a "splash" of (just-about-any) color.  White is clean, classy, and timeless - you can't go wrong!  Unfortunately, there are literally hundreds of 'Whites' out there, each slightly different from the next.  If you want to skip the painful search process, email us and we will divulge our favorite (Subject Line:  What's your White?).