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Traditionally, a typical remodeling project required the expertise of two totally separate professions: architecture and construction. First you would hire an architect to design and specify your project according to your needs and desires. Then you would hire a remodeling contractor to actually turn the design into reality by constructing the project according to the drawings – that is if the project’s cost didn’t exceed the anticipated budget. Sadly, many projects never actually get built even though they have been completely designed because they end up grossly exceeding the anticipated budget.
With this traditional approach there is usually very little, if any, communication between the architect and the contractor prior to actual construction. This means that any ideas that the Ithaca remodeling contractor may have such as a more cost effective solution to a particular design challenge, or a more appropriate material or product, or just a better way of doing something in general doesn’t get incorporated into the plan. This can often result in expensive change orders or settling for the less than ideal solutions.
The professional Design/Build approach is a "one-stop-shop" approach to homebuilding and remodeling that has revolutionized residential remodeling in many important ways. While the approach is not necessarily new, Design/Build has become very popular because it eliminates many of the common problems, frustrations and setbacks associated with the traditional approach.
By combining the services and expertise of the contractor, the architect and/or designer into one unified service you allow the architect/designer and the remodeling contractor to work together as a cohesive team in a very synergistic way. This typically results in a much more effective process from beginning to end with fewer changes during construction and in many cases a much higher level of client satisfaction.
Do you already have completed or started plans for a remodel, addition, or other construction project? We would be happy to discuss your project with you regardless.
“By maintaining clear communication with us, you minimized the anxiety that accompanies a major renovation project. You kept us well informed at every step of the project and you made the decision making process much easier by presenting options very clearly.”
--Mark and Rhonda Bickford, Ithaca
Every great design begins with a well thought out design program. In the world of residential architecture, we sometimes refer to that program as the "wish list." Your wish list is not only the spaces and amenities that you would like, but even more importantly, what are you looking for out of your remodel. How do you want your life to be in the renovated home?
So the first thing that you have to do to develop your program is the same thing that you do when you make any expensive purchase and that is determine what is it that is driving your need to have this improved environment and what is the primary benefit you want to gain from it. It may be a simple as; “I cannot stand the light in this house”, or “we need more privacy and our own bath and space away from the kids”, or “the kitchen is just too dark and dreary”. It is statements like this that we are looking for what is really bugging you.
A key reason to develop a good program is that it provides focus and a reference point for you to return to over and over again to make sure that your design enables your lifestyle objectives. This is critical.
Working with a design professional who is a good listener is key. Make sure you feel secure in the sense that the designer is passionate about helping you understand what you want and helping you get there. Much like doctors, design professionals need to take note of all the "symptoms" before they prescribe a course of action.
Stated simply, each design begins with concept sketches that lack detail but help organize the wish list. In some cases, it takes more than one concept drawing phase to nail down the concept. The design then evolves to larger scale architectural drawings that are more detailed and clearly define all of the spaces, their dimensions, and their major features. Finally, the process proceeds to construction drawings, in which special details are developed and incorporated into the design.
Custom designs should begin with fuzzy sketches that capture the concept of the plan and the feel of the architecture, then evolve into more defined hard-line architectural drawings, and finally into construction drawings.
As the design evolves it will fit your needs better and better and will start to become indelibly "yours."
Consider that the concept drawings should be 55% on target… they leave room for a lot of refinement. The architectural drawings should be 85% on target. As you move into the actual construction drawings, the design is refined to the point of being "right on target," about 95%. And, frankly, the last 5% of the evolution takes place with final refinements during construction.
The wonderful benefit of designing a custom remodeling project (a bathroom remodel or kitchen remodel, for example) is that you have an opportunity to take that journey and really polish your vision and dreams. Luxuriate in that opportunity - don't let it frustrate you!
Not only should the design meet your personal needs, it is imperative the design considers your financial comfort level as well. If the design can't be built within budget, it likely won't be built at all.
At first, in the concept stage, the estimate is as "fuzzy" or preliminary and in need of refinement as the drawings, since the building is not yet completely defined. We usually provide a range at this point, the higher end being something we are always designing to stay below. As the design evolves into future phases, the estimate, like the design, will get tighter and more accurate inside of that range. Each version of the design is an opportunity to get closer to your budget. The Design/Build team is your best possible resource in this process, developing estimates and ideas and presenting you with options and relative merits of those options and all the many and myriad components and aspects at every design evolution. Like that last 5% of the design that evolves during construction, you should leave yourself some contingency funds to account for changes that you make during construction as well. We recommend a minimum of 5% - 10%.
Many other factors affect the outcome of the design process. Make certain that you learn of and communicate all restrictions on your home (easements, architectural controls, and wetland or zoning issues) to your design professional. Your ability to obtain appropriate financing is a key factor as well. It's a good idea to speak with your banker or a mortgage broker before beginning the process to get a firm handle on how much remodeling you can realistically afford. Surprises in that area can send you rushing back to the drawing boards late in the process as well.
At Upscale Remodeling, our Design/Build process incorporates all of the elements described above into a straightforward program that has you and your life at its core.
We are proud of our design excellence and our Design/Build process. It should be an additional assurance for you to know clearly that our income is generated only from construction, so our entire design process is focused on you and getting the job done well in order that your vision and dreams become a reality.
We look forward to helping you bring your ideas to life!