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Ann Architect, Renovation Design GroupAnnie Architect, Renovation Design Group

Renovation Solutions is weekly column on architectural home design by Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer, Principal Architects of Renovation Design Group, a Utah architectural firm focusing on home renovation design.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Take initiative with major remodel

By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon

When you think of the remodeling team, you may first think of the architect, the interior designer or the contractor. However, the role of the homeowner is often underestimated — usually by the homeowner.

Ultimately, you, as the homeowner, are in charge. You have to think of yourself as a manager hiring and delegating the work to the professional members of your remodeling team.

There is work involved in being a good member of your own design team.

You need to be professional and serious about choosing the designers and architects for your project. Last week, we gave you tips for hiring a good contractor. The short story is you must do your research and take the time to interview the contractor and his referrals before choosing your contractor.

Depending on your skills and personality, you can take a little or a lot of the responsibility of the project. Some clients even go as far as serving as their own general contractor. But even if you choose not to be the owner/contractor, a good remodeling client is involved and oversees the process.

Homeowners need to be serious about choosing designers and architects for remodels.

Your first responsibility is to have a vision of your remodel that considers your family's lifestyle. When you entertain, does everyone gather in the kitchen? Perhaps you need to expand the kitchen and add an island or some comfortable chairs. Do you look to your bathroom as a place to escape the world? Add a whirlpool tub or a deluxe shower with multiple shower heads to create a personal paradise. If you get a lot of traffic through the house, consider hardwood floors.

To find that vision, it is helpful to look at magazines, books, newspapers and homes of family and friends. If you have a basic picture of your design style and functional goals for how your home could work better for your family, an architect can more efficiently help you create realistic plans and specifications that will meet your wants, needs and budget.

The more details you finalize during the design phase, the fewer decisions you will have to make during construction. There are so many choices to make during a remodel, it can be overwhelming. Use the knowledge and experience of the other members of your team wisely, but don't hesitate to be assertive and stand up for what you want. It is your home, so you should not leave it up to someone else to make decisions for you.

As the owner, you are also responsible to keep the peace in the neighborhood. Many people don't realize or think about how bringing in contractors for several weeks or even months can affect the neighborhood. It is important to give your neighbors a head's up to your plans. Let them know the schedule — when work will begin and the approximate completion date and if there are any delays. Inform neighbors of any large trucks coming into the neighborhood or other disturbing construction items. Check to see that construction vehicles don't block the street or neighbors' driveways.

Make sure noisy power tools are only used during standard business hours. Stay in contact with your neighbors: Good communication and an occasional treat or token distributed to neighbors goes a long way to soothe ruffled feathers!

Most people undertake a major remodeling project only once in a lifetime, so you will probably be in uncharted territory. This is why it is so critical to put together a strong team to see you through the process. If you do your homework, you can take the initiative throughout your remodeling project, and you won't have any trouble being a strong member of your own remodeling design team. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at

© 2008 Renovation Design Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Renovation Design Group.

If you are considering a remodel project, please Request a Free Consultation with Ann or Annie.

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