Updated: Sep 18
As I was helping some clients recently during the planning stage of their renovation, I was reminded by how important and critical that step is. They were excellent at hammering out exactly what they wanted and need. Unfortunately, I have seen some clients want to rush through that stage either because they think they know what they want despite not taking the time to discover it, they are running out of time to get their reno started, or they just plain don’t realize it is really that important to the success of their reno.
I have seen this happen too many times, particularly when we’ve been brought in mid-way through the whole process so they didn’t get that guidance with the planning and often the construction has started and they’re hating the layout or they’re realizing they missed including a key item. Or worse, they are having to redo the whole renovation or move to a new house a few years later because the final outcome did not meet their needs.
Part of planning involves fact-finding. This is the start of any design and construction work. In design speak this is called the Programming phase. In residential work it melds into the Schematic Design phase, too, which involves figuring out the design direction (concept) and initial layouts.
Here are some aspects that are part of planning your project:
What areas/spaces are you looking at designing or redesigning? Just one room or one level or your whole house?
How do you need those spaces to serve you?
What is most important?
For example, I ended up summarizing the key points for the clients I mentioned above to help them categorize which was the most important to them:
§ A larger, more open kitchen?
§ More light into the TV room?
§ Giving the TV room a more defined purpose?
§ Or, making the front entrance and hall more open?
All of these items were interconnected in construction and the design, but one needed to be the overarching goal for us to move forward with selecting a layout and focus.
What are your specific likes/dislikes, and wants and needs?
§“I love farmhouse styling”
§“We have two people cooking in our kitchen at once so we need more space."
§ “I need a deep soaker tub”
§"I have asthma and am sensitive to irritants in the home so I want materials in there that will help with that and to ensure the construction is done properly to make my home airtight.”
§“I want to plan for my future health needs so I want an accessible shower, wider doorways, and help for my progressing arthritis.”
Think about how you move through a space. Where are the pinch-points? What is working and what isn’t?
How much do I want to invest into making my space better?
There are a lot more points and examples I could write, but I hope that gives you some things to think of.
Another benefit of being thorough during this stage is that you will not be second-guessing your decisions during construction. Making changes, big or small, during the construction work is a good way to spend more money than you were planning, frustrate everyone, including you, and delay the completion. Keep in mind there will always be changes, but when you have the roadmap and know clearly what your top priorities are and what you want to achieve once this design and construction is completed, you can address those things that come up with ease.
Please dig deep through this process and be thorough in your working through each point, each concern, and how you live and work. Each person, family, even business is unique and you deserve to have your home and workplace working for you and helping you live and work better, not hindering you.
You’ll thank yourself in the end.