When contemplating a home renovation that suits your family, budget and style, the first step is to have a good functional design. Consultation with a professional designer who is aware of current trends, new materials and practices you may not have considered is often very beneficial. Many renovation companies now have designers on staff – part of a growing trend towards one stop shopping.

For a simple renovation the design can often be worked out between you and a qualified renovator. If the renovation is more complex a knowledgeable renovator can give you sound advice on the level of assistance you might need from a designer.

The home renovation design process typically begins with discussions regarding your ideas, goals and possible options. A review of photos, drawings and any product literature that you have collected, will help your renovator and designer come up with a design and potential options that will suit your renovation goals and budget.

At this point it is usually wise to obtain “budget pricing” for your project. In my experience most people contemplating a renovation have a “need to have” list and a “want to have” list. Your contractor can give you a price for “the need to have” portion of your renovation and separate costs for the “want to have” items. This will give you a better idea of the potential costs involved so you can make an informed decision regarding scaling back the project if necessary or if multiple options have been priced, which one best suits your requirements.

When a design has been decided on, then concept drawings are prepared. At this point you have usually committed to a particular renovator. Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) software is a very useful tool when preparing drawings so that you can clearly see what the end result of your renovation will be. A variation of CAD called REVIT lets you see your renovation three dimensionally allowing you to view the area from any angle and can provide you with a virtual walk[thru. This is especially helpful for those that cannot visualize a renovation from a two dimensional drawing.

At the end of the design phase you will have a set of plans that will allow you to obtain firm pricing for the project. Specifications for products and finishes will have been finalized at this point and will be part of the design documents. Your contractor will prepare a written Contract that will refer to the design plans and specifications and include additional information required such as payment terms, timelines, proof of insurance etc.

In some instances finish decisions have not been finalized at the time the Contract is signed. People are often overwhelmed by all of the decisions they need to make, particularly with a larger renovation. Including realistic allowances in the Contract will give you more time to make these important choices and your renovation can get underway sooner. Common allowances included in Contracts are flooring, cabinetry, light fixtures and plumbing fixtures. Of course the designer will direct and suggest finishes but ultimately the final decision is up to you.

When your renovation entails structural changes, plumbing fixture relocation or other work, a building permit is required. Working drawings must be prepared in this case and submitted to your municipality for approval and a series of inspections by municipal building officials will be required during the renovation process.This may seem like a lengthy process but it is well worth the time and effort. Working with a professional designer and/or renovator will prove invaluable as they systematically guide you through the renovation process, helping you avoid costly mistakes and delays.

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