blog

Dust & Debris, Surviving Construction

NEED & PURGE

So you want to change your space, you believe you need different space or you will burst at the seams if you don’t build or remodel.  PAUSE- did you purge all the unnecessary junk from your space?  If not, read my last month’s blog about flexible and evolving rooms. (Blog)  There’s a motivating section about sorting out your stuff.  Constructing new space just to fill it with unused stuff is pointless and expensive.  If you’ve already purged, please have a seat.  Let’s talk…

ESTABLISH the PROJECT

The most helpful step in a construction job is to know exactly what are you wanting in the outcome.  Are you painting and buying new fixtures or are you redoing the whole bathroom?  Are you tearing out empty offices to pave way for an open office layout or just removing cubicles?  It’s important to clearly define the boundaries of the project from the start. If you don’t, the project will “grow legs” and run away from you making your timeline unrealistic and the budget blown.  The phrase “while we’re at it, why don’t we just…”  is a very alluring statement. Yes it is more economical to have the work done all at once, but you don’t want to renovate the whole building if it’s just one room that really needs the work.  Also, consider phasing the work, especially if you are occupying the space during construction.  Enough unknowns will be uncovered while remodeling as it is to delay the project.  If there is additional desired work, it’s best to discuss it with the designer and contractor to figure out when and how to add it to the original scope.

HIRING the PROFESSIONALS

In the beginning stages of contacting professionals it is important to familiarize yourself first with the correct terminology regarding construction. Below are some words that are often times confused.  The subtle differences can greatly affect the impression the professional forms regarding the scope and depth of the project.

Preservation: respecting the historic property in its entirety and efforts are focused on maintaining current conditions without making modifications.

Restoration: returning a property to a specific previous time period using the original materials that are present. Other items not matching the chosen time period are removed.

Rehabilitation: similar to restoration however originals in poor condition may need to be recreated in order to complete the work.

Renovation: aesthetic updates to dated interior finishes such as flooring or wall finishes. Can also include plumbing fixtures, lighting, and appliances.

Remodel: changing physical characteristics like doors and walls as well as finishes mentioned in renovations.

New Construction: either constructing an addition to the existing structure or a new building altogether.

Once familiar with the specific term defining your project, meet with an interior designer. They will know who you need for a project, what plans need to be drawn and help you solidify your ideas.  Refer to my article about hiring a professional. (Blog)  Unless you are a seasoned DIY veteran many construction jobs will require professional design help.  Review their portfolios, discuss past projects, and have them view your space to brainstorm ideas prior to signing a contract.  This will also allow piece of mind that your ideas are aligned.  Items also important to discuss when hiring a  designer are your style inspirations, historic preservation items, environment/sustainability concerns, allergies/health and age range of occupants (infants and elderly specifically).  The designer won’t just help design your space but also assist in managing the construction site and working with you and your contractor.  Specific notes can be written into the plans to address necessary concerns for your project.

In general, you want to get as much work done on paper first before bringing in the sledgehammer.  You may be anxious to get the work started, but it will always be cheaper and more beneficial to work it out on paper first.  Plans, details, schematics, finish schedules, custom orders, contracts, deposits/payments, permits & insurance, workshop space, tool storage, dust mitigation and garbage removal are all items that need to be addressed prior to any hammer getting swung.  A word of caution when reviewing quotes from contractors:  Always get at least three different quotes.  Look for the outlier (extremely high or low).  If one is drastically different than the other two, don’t accept it.  They’re either missing part of the scope, desperate for work, or misunderstanding the project. 

SCHEDULE & BUDGET

You may have established an end date in your mind prior to meeting with your designer and contractor, however they well help fill in the details and make adjustments as necessary.  What may feel like a quick job, may indeed need more time because of unconsidered factors such as plumbing or electrical updates or needing increased structural support for wall openings.  If there’s a big event that the work needs to be completed by that needs to be communicated in the planning stage to have the most impact.

When creating a budget, know your financial limits firmly.  Is there a loan or grant getting used or a fixed cash amount that needs to be maintained?  Yes you’ll sign a quote from a contractor but contingency is there for a reason, make sure it’s part of the quote.  Allocate 8-15% of your budget for contingencies as unknowns are always discovered.   Remember if you “rob Peter to pay Paul” then your budget will need to be adjusted. Meaning your big ticket items need to be covered if they’re necessary and scrapped if they’re not.  For an in depth remodel  imagine a $100 pie; roughly a third should be for the interior work including finishes, non structural wall alterations, and windows.  $5 is allocated for furnishings.  Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC take another $33 of the pie.  The remaining third should be roughly divided into  $25 for the structure itself,  and the remaining $10 of the pie for contingent expenses discovered along the way.  If its just an aesthetic interior renovation the $25 for the structure can be allocated into other pie portions as needed.

DURING CONSTRUCTION

A careful decision is whether to attempt to continue to use the space vs vacate during construction.  Demolition is brutal, especially if nothing is being salvaged and the walls or floors need to be opened up for electrical, plumbing or HVAC work.  If you must remain in the space consider construction phases or scheduled time for excessively noisy work.  Dust partitions and walk off mats should be installed regardless to help reduce tracking dirt elsewhere in the property.  Otherwise, set up a temporary location elsewhere, it will move the work along faster and help you keep your sanity. 

demolition, construction, home remodel, bathroom renovaationconstruction, demolition, bathroom remodel

Also during construction material samples should be available to select remaining finishes such as flooring or paint colors.  With technology 3D models and color renderings are standard practice as well as example photos.  If not possible, ask to visit a showroom or view past projects to visualize an item prior to installation.  The schedule and timeline is very important to continue work progression.  The construction trades follow each other in work sequence so delaying a tile decision, for example, can hold up plumbers and painters.  Decisions need to be made as early as possible as lead times for many items can be 6-12 weeks if not readily available as a stock item.  A single order needs to be placed for finishes to prevent different color batches to occur. If special orders or back orders occur, a faster alternate should be suggested if the delay will cause significant schedule setback. 

It is best to discuss frustrations and problems as they occur to keep the aggravations at a minimum.  Update meetings should occur twice a week for a project that is less than 12 weeks in duration and once a week for jobs longer than 12 weeks.  Once daily phone calls and email exchanges should suffice for quick clarifications but bombarding contractors and designers with hourly issues will complicate matters and can cause more confusion in the back and forth transactions. When walking through the job site, dress appropriately especially footwear.  Sturdy, closed toe shoes should always be worn to avoid tripping and injury.  A dust mask and safety glasses are always wise to have on hand.  A hardhat during heavy demolition and structural construction will be required by the contractor and should be announced ahead of time. 

During construction feel free to document the progress with photos.  Also,  city inspections reports/sign-offs and permits should be posted.  As the owner, copies of these should be provided to you if desired.  When all work is said to be completed a final walk through  should be performed.  The site should appear finished, cleared of all leftover debris and professionally cleaned.  Have your designer perform a “punch list” during the walk through.  This list should only include small items such as paint touch ups and receiving manuals.  If any major issues are evident, consider the work incomplete.  Final payment to the contractor and owner occupancy shall occur after punch list items are completed.

AFTER CONSTRUCTION

The project is finally completed and hopefully successful.  You are excited to move into the space and are pleased with the finished product.  The contractor and designer aren’t finished yet.  Post occupancy surveys, portfolio photos and client references are the last steps to completing your project.  These are the venues to air your exaltation or grievances.  Please complete the surveys, write the references/reviews, and let the photographers take the photos.


As the old adage goes, “only experience brings true confidence”.  However, with the help of a qualified designer and seasoned contractor you should feel comfortable tackling any construction job.  Don’t be afraid, make the jump and improve your life.  After the dust settles it will be awesome!

Sincerely,

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner & Interior Designer

Daricilar Design Studio    –    Medway, MA

 

Join in October: “Favorite Finishes, A Designer’s Choice.

Evolving rooms and flexible spaces.

restored homes, home remodel, home renovation

According to recent data, the average American home has grown to over 2,000 square feet, costs over $200,000, has 3-4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room, dining room and eat-in kitchen.  In our minds we have our dream house.  It has all the rooms we need and in the layout and style we want.  The open floor plan or closed, two story, ranch walkout or contemporary split, we want it and dream that one day we’ll have it.  The house will have a finished basement, media room, study, play room, craft corner, upstairs laundry, master suite, four season porch, finished attic, teen getaway, in-law apartment, mud room, man cave, wine room, heated garage, yoga room, greenhouse and so on.  The list goes on and the dreams get bigger.  Heck, after all of that, a simple separate guest room doesn’t sound so hard. 

Taking these points and adding all of the rooms mentioned above, the dream house grows quickly to +5,000 square feet and costs $800,000 and upwards.  That is a lofty ambition!  If you live in a highly sought after metro area, double that $800,000.  I’m here to discuss all of these enjoyable rooms and figure out how to get those functions into a manageable sized house and mortgage. 

First, before anything, de-junk your house.  Purge all unused items out of your space, it’s too expensive to fill with stuff you don’t use.  Sell, donate, pass along, throw out, just make it leave.  Clothes that don’t fit, rusty baking pans, old books, uncomfortable shoes, anything that doesn’t bring you joy or used daily is taking up expensive real estate in your home.  Let it continue its journey and set yourself free!  I recommend every season to get the stuff under control and from then on once a year to maintain the balance.  (I will address storage in general in another month’s blog).  

Now you’ve carved out some empty corners in your house, let’s figure out how to better utilize them.  If you analyze the list of dream rooms, they can usually fall into three categories: noisy activity, quiet hobby, or functional service.  Ignore the names of your house’s rooms and label them with one of the three categories instead.  Next, make the room multi task.  Take your dining room for example.  With a kitchen table and a counter top with bar stools, do you really need a third place to eat occasionally or seasonally?  “Oh but it’s pretty and elegant to have a formal dining room for holiday family dinners” you say.   Meanwhile your lack of home office is taking over your bedroom, living room, and kitchen counter.  Your papers are everywhere, you’ve lost your phone charger for the nth time and you can’t find your child’s permission slip for tomorrow’s field trip.

 It’s not the formality that makes the meal, it’s the food you share with the company you keep and the conversation you have.  

Turn your dining room into a work room.  Throw a good padded tablecloth over your table, slide some pretty file boxes into your china hutch, slip you laptop into a drawer.  Do whatever you need to do to make this unused space into working for you.  Better yet, don’t create a formal dining room from the start, think daily functional needs.  This room can be your office, homework station, craft corner, and library, then all tuck away at the holidays if you still “need” your fine china fix. 

mid century modern chairs, minimalist livinghome office, blue walls, shaker style cabinets, small spaces, white decor, home remodel

Some rooms do require a remodel such as adding a bathroom or moving the laundry upstairs. Those are a separate issue for another day.  Let’s keep adding functions to existing rooms.  Want a mud room? Add hooks, shelves, and a bench to a back hallway or in the garage.  Make your family room the noisy, teen, game, media, man cave, home theater, music room.  Your living room becomes the quiet, sewing, study, den.  For upstairs, can your children share a room? Why not, you and your spouse do. BAM! Now you have a vacant room to become a guest, gym, and rec room.  Don’t have a linen closet? Store towels in baskets hung on the wall and bedding in each bedroom’s closet.  No basement? Go vertical in the garage.  Use double beds instead of twins to increase room occupancy and tuck storage bins under all the them.  Get rid of all the books, DVDs, and CDs . Wait- what did I say?  These things take up tremendous space, most get used just a few times, waste resources and spend your money.  Use the library, develop a swap meet with friends/family, buy an e-reader, download songs, use Netflix or Roku, keep your old worn favorites, just don’t accumulate any more new ones. 

You have purged the clutter, reassigned rooms, and have started multi tasking some spaces.  Niches and alcoves are carved out and hooks have been hung.  Now let’s tackle the big dreams.   We don’t need man caves, master suites, teen dens, and in-law apartments if we figure out why we’re trying to escape.  

You didn’t start a family so you will all spend time in different rooms, doing your own activities.  Bring back the ideas of sharing and family togetherness.  

Alternate what’s playing on the tv, work together at the dining table, and bathe the kids while dad is shaving.  The point is to share space and enjoy your home.  

screened in porch, blue living room, sun room, house remodel

If and only if you have uncluttered your house, used every corner and are still bursting at the seams and tripping over one another should you consider construction.  Its expensive, time consuming and most of the time a little flexibility can be used instead.  However, there are always exceptions.  For example, if screening in your porch is a life long dream then do it, but let it also blossom to a summer sleeping porch, play room, hobby space and garden shed. The point is to multi task spaces. Let the rooms evolve to multiple functions.  Flexibility is simplicity.  Formal decorated, one function rooms are for glossy magazines, yours are to live in and love. 

Sincerely,

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner & Interior Designer

Daricilar Design Studio    –    Medway, MA

 

Join in September: “Dust & debris, surviving construction”

 

Decorator, Designer, Architect…which one to choose?

interior designer in Medway, MA

So you have a space in either your home or business and you want to change it.  The project is out of your comfort zone so you have to bring in the design pros, but you don’t know who to call.  This is a common question, especially confusion between interior decorators and interior designers.  I’m here to spread a little light on the topic and assist those seeking the professional design assistance they need.

You start your hunt by perusing websites, social media, and the phone book and notice  some being called designer and others decorators as well as abbreviations and letters after the names.  Interior decorators don’t require any formal education.  Anything from selling home decor to window treatments and wall paper usually falls under this domain.  It’s oriented towards aesthetic treatments in homes.  Formal Interior design education is a 2-4 year college program, issuing either an associate or bachelor degree, and work in either residential or light commercial sectors.  Commercial interior designers, in comparison, typically are trained from a 4 year bachelor degree accredited program, many carry the NCIDQ certification and work alongside architects in design firms.  Architects are trained in a bachelor or master degree accredited program and carry the NCARB by state licensed credential.  If you see the initials ASID, IIDA, or AIA, these are professional associations with levels of Professional, Allied, and Associate depicting levels of qualifications.  If you see LEED AP or GA by a person’s name, these letters refer to certified knowledge in sustainable construction methods for building certification by the USGBC.  

Adding to the mix are kitchen and bath designers, showroom associates, and equipment specialists.  These professionals all work in showrooms representing products.  Use caution when working solely with these professionals as they usually work on commission and may not always have your best interest in mind.  Suggestions of custom work, special orders, and tailor made items can wreck havoc on your project’s budget, extend your timeline and may not even be necessary.  Its best to involve a third party decorator, designer, or architect not affiliated with a showroom and agree to a flat fee or hourly rate instead of commission for payment.  It may sound helpful to work with the showrooms’s in house design team but be on guard.

Don’t take design advice from someone who will profit when you spend more money with them.  Use third party assistance that can be a helper not a spender. 

Let’s look at some examples of who to call and when:  Do you need help choosing new curtains or carpet?  Call a decorator.  Are you remodeling your kitchen or bathroom?  Call an interior designer.  Do you want to knock out a wall and build an addition?  Call an architect.  Those should be pretty clear, now let’s muddy the waters.  Do you want to open up your kitchen to your living room, relocate the fixtures in your bathroom, and add furniture to your remodel project?  How about creating zones in your office space, change the visibility through your business lobby, then upgrade your suspended ceiling?  This water is getting murky!  In all examples, you should call an interior designer.  They can handle the kitchen remodel, refer to an architect or even a structural engineer for the living room wall opening if a header is needed by the contractor, work with the plumber to relocate the fixtures in the bathroom,  and then assist you in the retail store to help you select your furniture.  They can rearrange your office zones by function, redesign your business lobby and then suggest products for that new suspended ceiling.

paint swatch, interior designer in Medway,MA,

You now know you need an interior designer for you project, however still some uncertainty and doubt may remain.  Will they want to do it?  How will they possibly reinvent this space?  How long will it take?  Is it possible on my budget?  Can I remain in the space while the work is being done?  Can I even afford to hire one?  All of these questions can be answered in an initial project consultation.  Contact the designer, set up a time to meet and discuss your ideas, from there, the designer will give you feedback and draw up a contract including a scope of work summary and preliminary schedule.  State your timeline as early as possible as some items require 2-3 month lead times, holding up the project.  Budget also needs to get discussed from the beginning as an experienced designer can suggest where in the project to splurge or save to be the most effective while still meeting all end goals.

Never let a designer tell you that you need a bigger budget for a better impact.  Creativity and imagination can go a long way for a limited budget.

All design professionals will have a portfolio of past work, ask to see it. The Internet has made this step much easier with Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs and of course websites.  From there you will know whether your selected professional is capable of performing the project.  The designer should be able to draw up plans, show style examples, provide swatches and samples, and guide you through the process to create your dream.   

This is YOUR project, you can succeed in it but you need help.  Don’t be shy, call an interior designer.  Dream it, discuss it, plan it, review it, watch the work, and love the outcome!

Sincerely,

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner & Interior Designer

Daricilar Design Studio    –    Medway, MA

 

Join in August: “Evolving rooms and flexible spaces”

Preparing your house to show

real estate in Massachusetts homes for sale in Medway, interior designers in Medway, MA,

As spring moves into summer another season starts to bloom, house selling season!  In some parts of the country this season seems to come at the end drop of the last icicle melting.  So here you are, getting your house ready for the realtor to take the photos for their website, plant that powerful “For Sale” sign in your front yard, then commence the feverish constant upkeep for showings with an hour’s notice.  For the sake of this article let’s assume you’ve already raided the internet for tips on “staging” your house.  Now, let’s move beyond that.  This is what to do in that “power hour” before buyers come for a showing.  Let’s get extreme…

As an interior designer, I can help provide additional tricks after you’ve exhausted the typical tips on curb appeal, white slip covers, and removing knickknacks.  For example, have you rearranged your closets? I thought not.  Take a look at your closet, if it were a store would you shop there? If no, then get cracking.  Start by arranging your shirts by sleeve length and then by color.  Separate your bottoms into pants and skirt groups, fold your sweaters like they do in boutiques (sleeves inside), arrange purses along the top shelf, hang belts and scarves, and for the biggest visual impact face everything in the same direction, including the coat hangers.  Move on to the linen closet and repeat.  Fold towels into thirds with the ends facing the back, grouping colors together.  Turn all toiletry labels facing front (called “facing” in retail), and place all remaining miscellaneous items in a basket on a high shelf.  The same facing idea pertains to the cereal boxes and eye level goods in your pantry.  Your goal is to portray to the potential buyer that storage is not only not a problem but a joy in this house, its house eye candy.

Another trick, (this one’s more for you to live in this now immaculate house) is how to reign in your mail, bills, cell phone cords and miscellaneous life stuff that floats around the kitchen counter.  If you have space above your fridge, place a large high sided basket atop. This will become your hide away spot to throw all that stuff when its 30 minutes to show time. Lift it down, fill it up, and then raise it up out of touring eyes.  Awesome, right?

Bathroom remodel, interior designers in Medway,

Let’s go to the bathroom now.  At the half hour call to show time, tidy the bathroom.  Check your toilet is clean, wipe your faucets of water drip marks, pull your blinds open, straighten your towels (into thirds if possible), place your toothbrush/toothpaste under the sink and wet wipe down the counter and sink.  Toothpaste smears will not sell your home.  Straighten your shower bottles, fluff up your shower curtain, and tuck your trash back by your toilet.  For bonus effort, make a clean tidy tear on your toilet roll.

living room, colonial home in Medway, Interior Designers in medway, MA

Move to the the living room, you want to portray life energy can be possible, but not currently occurring.  Imagine your house like a snapshot of the potential of living there, that’s what you’re selling.  Straighten your pillows, refold your blankets (tuck your ends in), tidy up your magazines, fluff your curtains out allowing the windows to show.  Remove all shoes from the front entry.  Somewhere in this room hide a vanilla air freshener, make absolutely sure its not visible.  You are creating an atmosphere, not giving away the magician’s secrets.

white modern kitchen, kitchen remodel, interior designer in Medway, MA

For the kitchen, if you have a double sink, place the dish drying rack in there.  Better yet, take your dish scrubby brushes, rack and tuck them under your sink.  Your dishes do themselves, remember, create magic!  Place your basket o’stuff above your fridge, straighten your chairs and stools, wipe the faucet like you did in the bathroom, open any blinds, and take out the trash.

By this time in your preparation, you should be approaching an hour.  Spend the last 10 minutes scanning the major rooms and tweak minor adjustments (like focusing your photo frames to all face the same direction).  Your beds are already made (start adopting that morning habit and you won’t need to do it during your power hour.)   Now, take a fresh look at your home like the buyers will be doing. It looks pretty sharp!  Straightened, shiny, tidy, focused, and organized items all help convey the message that this home has been cared for, its a joy to live in, and its ready for them.

You CAN do it!  I believe in you.  Let your house shine, its been good to you.

 Sincerely,

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner & Interior Designer, DDS

Medway, MA

Join in July: “Decorator, Designer, Architect. Which one is right for you.