Author's Note: This is part of a series of blog posts aimed at avoiding renovation woes.
After the Cherry Hill Kitchen renovation was complete, I asked my client what she wished homeowners knew before starting the renovation process. As a professional designer, I often take my experience and understanding of renovations for granted. This blog series will help you become better acquainted with the renovation process and common pitfalls. I believe that the more you know going into a renovation project, the more successful it will be because you will have a better idea of what to expect.
"Consider how much of your time you can commit and use that to determine what professional help you will need..." - Carla, Cherry Hill Kitchen Renovation
Most people underestimate how much time they can realistically dedicate to overseeing a renovation project. Imagine all the phone calls one might receive from a contractor on a huge renovation project (and then double it...at least). One might think hey, "I could let those calls go to voicemail and check those e-mails later," but delayed responses often hold up a project, or worse, decisions start getting made without you in order to keep the project on schedule. A good designer, contractor or specialized consultant will anticipate feedback they will need from you far enough ahead of time that it should not be an issue, but there are things that sometimes come up unexpectedly that need a response rather quickly. In extreme cases waiting on one decision can cause people not to be able to move forward with your project for at least a few hours.
Most of my interior design clients fall into two groups. One group is made up of those that have a general idea of what they want and would like some general professional feedback to make sure they are not overlooking anything. This was the case with Carla - she often works with designers at work, so she had a better understanding of how long things take during a renovation. However, there were some things that she was not sure how to address such as the new breakfast bar, the best appliance layout and how to finish the tile edges on the two stairs leading to the den. She knew that it was better to address these elements sooner rather than laters. We sat down her concerns and discussed other potential issues and addressed them before they became an actual problem.
My other clients often fall into a group that prefer full-service interior design. In this case, the designer handles things such as presenting product and finish options, ordering samples, making specifications, ordering product, digitally documenting any drawings, coordinating with contractors and consultants and handling deliveries. One reason, full-service design is ideal (if it is within a homeowners budget) is because it frees up the homeowner to live their life with less interruptions.
High-end clients sometime invest in full-service interior design and take it a step further and hire an owner's representative. When I was working in at Peter Zimmerman Architects I was surprised at how many clients have an owner's representative. Many clients were constantly working and traveling - an owner's representative is there to answer questions in place of the client when they are unavailable. This is how 20,000+ sq. ft. residential projects moved more quickly through schematic design, design development and construction.
Homeowners need to be honest with themselves regarding how much time they can dedicate to a project. One good way to figure out how much time you have to dedicate to a project is thinking about how long it has been put off due to time constraints. If you travel a ton, are starting a new job, expecting a new addition to the family or just have obligations that seem more interesting than overseeing a renovation consider which professionals would make life easier to handle.