The days when a kitchen was a stove, a refrigerator, a sink, and some cabinets, are gone. New kitchens today have a startling range of possibilities: double ovens with microwave/convection options, steamer ovens, halogen ovens, wine refrigerators, induction cooktops, grills, downdraft exhaust, and many other newcomers to the appliance scene. Continue reading “Pick Your Appliances First” »
Because electrical systems are a seeming mystery, homeowners involved in a remodeling usually simply trust their electricians to do a responsible, safe job. And most electricians are remarkably conscientious with their work, making sure that it “meets code.” But many opportunities to improve existing problems and eliminate future ones are routinely lost to inattention.
Most homeowners don’t realize that “code” is intended as a MINIMUM level of safe work. High quality remodeling deserves better than this minimum. But an electrician bidding on work doesn’t want to risk losing the job by figuring in extra work that wasn’t requested. Continue reading “Don’t be Shocked When You Upgrade Your Electrical System” »
Remodeling, like all construction projects, is a risky business. Construction accidents are as common as the sawdust on the floor. If something happens on your project, will you be protected from severe financial consequences?
Before starting any construction project, it’s essential to discuss your insurance requirements with your insurance advisor (ie. your insurance agent/broker). Although everyone has different insurance needs, here are some general tips: Continue reading “Insuring Your Project’s Success” »
In a recent remodeling class that I taught, a student raised her hand and asked, “If I can get computer-drawn plans for my kitchen remodeling from one of the big home improvement centers (which will do them for free), why would I need an architect to draw plans?” From the nods around the room, I could see that it was a question for many of the students.
The plans that these improvement centers, and an increasing number of local cabinet shops, are producing look amazingly detailed and accurate, and even show you how the kitchen would look in a semi-realistic 3-dimensional perspective view. Couldn’t you get bids from these? Continue reading “All Plans Are Not Created Equal” »
I came across a very interesting survey done a few years ago. Homeowners who had done projects were interviewed as to their satisfaction levels. Those who had paid more in design fees (e.g. to an architect) were overwhelmingly more satisfied in the end than those who had paid low fees. Why this surprising result?
In a nutshell, those who had paid higher design fees had received more service. They had received more attention to the actual design, the plans were more complete and easier to build from, they had fewer problems during construction, and the architects were available to help solve problems during construction. Conversely, the study found that those who had paid the lowest fees had far more problems and were far more prone to lawsuits. Continue reading “Saving Money in Design Fees — A Good Idea?” »
Imagine walking into a car dealership and asking the salesperson for a price on a “white medium-sized car.” It would be a silly request, of course, unless you told the salesman the exact make, model, options, and accessories you wanted. Yet many people try to get competitive quotes from contractors for their remodeling project, based on nothing more than a vague verbal description, or some rough sketches.
Most reputable contractors will refuse to quote a price without complete plans and specifications. Some, though, in their eagerness to please their customers, may attempt a “guesstimate,” which will probably be optimistic. Hiring the contractor who has the lowest “guesstimate” is asking for trouble. Continue reading “Getting Bids Too Early Can Be Disastrous!” »
Two remodeled kitchens, side by side — same size, virtually same layout. One kitchen cost $35K to remodel, the other a whopping $175K. What causes some projects to get so expensive?
To a very large extent, dear reader, YOU do. (Well, assuming you’re a homeowner doing a construction project.) Continue reading “HOW MUCH???!!! (An architect’s guide to expensive construction)” »
Go into any large bookstore or computer store, and you’ll see an astounding number of computer software programs for home remodelers. And I know that people are buying these programs to help themselves design their own remodeling project. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed more and more clients coming to me with computer-drafted sketches, rather than the crude pencil sketches I’m used to seeing.
Are these software programs valuable? Do they really allow you easily draft your own design? Continue reading “Home design software can help, but it’s not enough…” »
Small children are often left out of the design process during a remodeling. But you have a number of opportunities to get your children involved. Not only will they learn an appreciation for the construction process, they will be grateful for being included. (Even if they don’t say so!) Continue reading “Remodeling for the Children in the House” »