Renovating or Adding to Your Home: What should you know before doing so?

Why is it important to hire an Architect before constructing and not after to legalize?
October 2, 2023
Renovating or Adding to Your Commercial Property: What should you know before doing so?
December 1, 2023
Why is it important to hire an Architect before constructing and not after to legalize?
October 2, 2023
Renovating or Adding to Your Commercial Property: What should you know before doing so?
December 1, 2023

Happy November everyone! Hope everyone is excited to be entering holiday season soon. As we enter this season, it is often the time when we begin to think about what we are thankful for, and what we may want as gift or change in our homes. As it is the time when more people visit, or just us using the space more.

Renovating or adding to your home is an exciting endeavor that can transform your most personal space into something more functional, personal and/or spacious. However, it’s a considerable undertaking that requires careful planning and consideration. In this blog, we’ll explore six key factors you should be aware of before embarking on a home renovation or addition project. With the right knowledge and preparation, you can ensure a successful and rewarding transformation of your home.

1. Hiring Professionals:

The success of your project often depends on the professionals you hire. Architect, Engineer, Surveyors, and Contractors play pivotal roles in bringing your vision to life. Carefully select the right professionals and maintain open communication throughout the project.

 You’ll want to make sure you have a great survey of the property as it is required for permit submissions, and it helps inform the Architect zoning analysis.

As per an Architect, you want to make sure the Architect has experience in the type work you wish to do and that they work with you on resolving the spatial problems you currently have with your home. As well as, provide all the services you may need to complete the project.

As per Engineers, though not always needed. There will be times a Structural will come on board for complex projects, or a Mechanical Engineer will come on board for complex projects to resolve Structural issues or Central AC/Heating design, respectively.

As for Contractors, you will want someone who is detailed oriented, well-organized, and has a team of laborers and subcontractors that can get the work done right and in a timely manner.

2. Assessing Your Needs and Goals:

Before you reach out to an Architect or before the Architect creates the Schematic Designs, take a step back and assess your needs and goals. If you do it before reaching out to an Architect, write out what your end goal is and what type of spaces you need in the renovation or addition. What are the must haves and what can be compromised. If you are not sure and need guidance to define them, reaching out to an Architect and having them ask you questions regarding the project will help create some clarity and define your needs and goals.

I always like to ask my clients various questions to get to the center of the end goal and the why. I also ask them to rank the importance of the following: function, aesthetic, design, quality, budget, and schedule. Knowing the order, will help inform how decisions are made throughout the project.

3. Legal and Regulatory Considerations:

Understanding local building codes, permits, and zoning restrictions is crucial. Failing to do so can lead to costly setbacks and legal issues. The great part of this is that you do not need to do the research and analysis, that is why you have your Architect on board. They will make sure the research and comply will make sure the project complies with all relevant regulations in your area.

If the scope of work you wish to do in general does not comply with zoning or building code requirements, the Architect will provide a solution that is code compliant and/or provide an option to seek a variance if there is a good chance for it to get approved. When it comes to regulations, the best advice is to remain flexible and open-minded to different options. There will be cases the project just can’t be done, but an Architect will always do their best to provide the best options, if they are reasonable and feasible.

4. Setting a Realistic Budget:

One of the most critical aspects of any home renovation or addition project is setting a realistic budget. Though you won’t have an exact price from just discussing the project with an Architect, they can provide an educated wide range of prices that it may entail. Do note that we currently live in a variable market where prices change constantly, so that range may well be off by some percent. Therefore, the best course of action is to access if that range is within your means and then move forward with the drawings.

Once the Construction Drawings are completed, you can then go into the bidding and negotiating process with Contractors to select the best one. My advice to all my clients is to have 4-5 estimates. In most cases, drop the lowest and highest, but also review the full contract of all to make sure everything in the drawings is included and to see what their exclusions are. In most cases, you want to select the lower/middle price but, also, consider if you get along with the Contractor. It is helpful to have the Architect hired to provide their assistance during this phase of the project to help you make an educated choice.

Furthermore, as you consider your budget keep in mind that the budget should include cost of Contractor fee (materials and labor), Professional fees, Permit Fees, and unexpected expenses. I always advise to include a contingency fund to cover unforeseen costs that may arise during the project, this may be 10 to 20% depending on scale of project. If it’s a renovation project, you would want to include a higher percentage, since more unforeseen items can arise when demolition happens.

5. Project Timelines and Disruptions:

Understanding the typical project timeline and potential delays is essential. Prepare for some level of disruption during the renovation, and work with your contractor to minimize inconveniences. Effective project management can make all the difference.

6. Quality Control and Inspections:

Quality control is paramount. Though, regular inspections are mandatory by the building department through the project. It is recommended to have the Architect provide Construction Administration services. This will allow them to visit the site at key project milestones and ensure that the work is being done per the drawings to meet your expectations. Also, it is key to have the Contractor provide a schedule and to make sure the project is on track, and that all inspections are being completed and passed at timely manner. This also helps keep realistic expectations of the project, especially if there is an issue or delay that happens along the way.

In Conclusion, home renovations and additions can be immensely rewarding, but they require careful planning and informed decisions. By hiring the right professionals, assessing your needs, understanding legal requirements, setting a realistic budget, managing timelines, and maintaining quality control, you can embark on a journey to create your dream home with confidence. Keep in mind that the Architect’s professional advice and resources are invaluable throughout the process.

For more in-depth information on home renovations, additions, or other types of projects, feel free to check out our other blog posts, Instagram / Facebook posts or contact us for expert guidance tailored to your specific needs. Here at Rooted Architecture, we are committed to helping our clients realize their vision while ensuring a smooth and successful construction journey. If you’re considering a construction project, contact us today to discuss how our architectural expertise can benefit your project from the very start. You can reach out to us by going to our contact page and filling out our Client Questionnaire,  send us an email (also on our contact page) or go to my Calendly and schedule a call/Teams meeting.

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Keep growing,

Katherine A. Serrano Sosa, AIA | NCARB