Updated: Oct 14, 2022
Many people get overwhelmed when they start thinking about a large budget renovation project. There are so many choices it can be hard to know where to start, they’re worried about how invasive and disruptive it will be to their home and daily life, and they've heard horror stories about projects going over budget and over schedule.
At ReNew Design + Build we do high budget, large-scope projects day in and day out. This is our specialty.
We often spend twice as much time in the planning phase as we do in the construction phase on a project of this scope and cost. Sometimes this is frustrating for the client as they don’t see results right away, and they want to start building sooner rather than later. We want to make sure clients understand the decisions we are making during the planning phase, and how they will help us down the road.
After we work with a client to identify the scope of work and a rough budget, the next step is to document the existing house. We take detailed looks at the mechanical systems of the house, the structural elements that are remaining or being changed, and any hazards that we might have to mitigate like lead-based paint or asbestos. We need to know what we’re starting with, what we have to work with, and what elements of the home you want to remain once the project is completed. There are often original finishes or design elements that the client wants incorporated into the finished project.
We then do initial “dreaming” around structural changes, use of spaces and layout of the home, and we present the client with 3D models so they can see what these spaces can look like, and give a feel of what the flow of the home will feel like.
Once we finalize a layout, we move from dealing with the generic palette of finishes we use in our renderings to specifying cabinetry colors, appliances, sinks, faucets, etc., and touching and experiencing these items in showrooms. We help the client choose finishes that reflect their personality and will fit their lifestyle. Our designers walk our clients through a well-thought-out process to bring all of these considerations into a cohesive space that really reflects and enriches the way you live in your home.
Simultaneously, other members of our team are also analyzing the existing structure and all of its systems. We come in with plumbers, HVAC, and electricians; every subcontractor is brought in to identify their scope of work and get written estimates for each mechanical system of the home. We start to game plan how they will all work together so that when we are ready to start work and pull the trigger on construction everyone has been on site and is familiar with the project. This ensures we have accurate estimates not only on the cost but also on the schedule.
These pre-construction site walks with contractors help identify many problems that could otherwise be overlooked until later in the construction process. You’ve probably heard horror stories of things that were hidden behind walls, and unknown costs that were uncovered when you started opening walls up. We want to open those walls up early on in that design
phase so those problems are discovered and priced into the scope of work.
Once we've done all this research, once we’ve selected all the finishes, fixtures, and walked the site with each of the subcontractors that will be involved, we have all of the information we need to write a contract. Our team then assembles all the information into a full spec book for the project that includes every single fixture and finish, interior and structural drawings, and any structural, stormwater, or geo-technical engineering. We put all of that into a packet that we can sit down with a client, review, and sign a contract on. We then hand this contractor off to our production team.
This detailed contract and spec book gives us the clarity to go back, months into the project as we’re getting close to completion, we have very detailed documentation to go back and look at, and we have a common reference point to go back to.
During the process we often have clients want additional work completed. It’s not uncommon for a client to decide in the middle of the project that they may want to repaint another room, or choose to include something we talked about but that wasn’t included in the original budget. We are able to make those changes, but we’re always able to go back and reference that original starting point.
A big concern for us is the livability of the home during the project. Some projects are minimally invasive, like renovating one room or section of a home. Other times we’re diving deep into the guts of a home and making it unlivable for large parts of the process. If the client is going to be living in the home towards the end of the design phase we’re going to do a meeting onsite with the production team, the client, and any of the key subcontractors to talk about how we can work with them so they can still occupy the space. What are our work hours, where will we stockpile materials, what parking will be available? We answer all of these questions to try and be as non-invasive as possible.