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Surviving your renovation…written by a freshly experienced real life renovation client.

Warning! This is not to be taken lightly; renovations are tough on the family, stressful and sometimes downright dirty.

Knowing a bit about the renovation design build industry, I honestly thought I was quite knowledgeable…whoa, was I in for a pleasant surprise. I am not saying my knowledge didn’t help with the understanding of the process and decisions involved, however knowing about the industry and implementing the project are two very different things when it comes to actually renovating.

Here is the scenario – can you relate?

When to renovate – There’s no good time, honestly between hockey and baseball season, winter, spring, summer, fall there is really no good time to be out of your home.

The Reason for Renovating –We love the location and property and could visualize how the home could work better for our family. We looked at options (new build, homes for sale in our neighbourhood) but when also including cost in the equation, renovating won out.

Customers - Mom, Dad (both work full time) and two high energy boys (6 &11).

Project – Main Floor Renovation in a small and tired 60’s bungalow.

The Project Scope of Work – Re-energize and update the home. Open up the kitchen and dining rooms by knocking down a wall between them. A big item on the wish list was to design for the addition of a dishwasher in the kitchen. With the age of the home and a different way of doing things in the 60’s, warmth and better lighting was also important. Feeling that we were sharing a lot of heat with our neighborhood squirrels, spray foam was to be added to the walls and the ceiling with the hopes that icicles would be less prevalent in the coming years. Although festive, icicles are usually a sign of minimal or improper insulation. A full bathroom was also included.

Can you live through the renovation, or the better question is should you? Is living with your in-laws/parents is maybe an option? Although renting a place could be an option as well! We invited ourselves to my Mom and Step-father’s house…. They welcomed us with open arms which was wonderful and much appreciated. However, it is still a big adjustment to everyone involved.

In choosing to renovate, we chose design build. We honestly, didn’t have the time, knowledge or wherewithal to manage a renovation of this scope. The design of making this new space work was key. We had a few ideas of course, but could they actually work with the bones of our house? Structurally, could what we want be achieved?

Our designer met with us, listened, and then came back with a brilliant plan. A rendering is worth a thousand words! The wooden beams! The huge island with seating! It was love at first sight.

Once we agreed (and gushed over the design), it was time to make some big decisions. Cabinetry, style, colour, kitchen storage options, counter top material, backsplash tile, grout, flooring, kitchen hardware, faucet, sink, ceiling lighting, pendants, under cabinet lighting…. the list went on. Although very exciting, these choices can be overwhelming as well. Thankfully our design team guided and reassured us along the way and final selections were chosen.

We felt good about the design, our selections and the project as a whole, then came the packing to move out of the house. Needless to say, it is a lot harder than I had imagined. All I kept on saying throughout the packing process, is do I really want to put this back into our new space and will I ever use it?

Speaking from experience, labeling a box with more detail than just Kitchen would have helped tremendously in the unpacking processes. Where is that big bowl and the measuring cups….while staring at 15 large boxes marked Kitchen?!

Then came the start date, we were ready, well almost. Demo day was actually really fun. Prior to the full team coming in to do the actual demolishing, we let the kids (and us) take a couple of big swings at the wall coming down. We did reassure our youngest (5 at the time) that he was not in fact going to get in trouble for taking a hammer to the wall.

The team came in and the kitchen and wall came out, the transformation was astounding! Over the weeks, the project came to life and we could see the future of our new space. The details and coordination from the start to completion of the project were immense. I am not going to lie, there were some bumps in the road along the way, but they were managed well by the team.

Why we chose design build– They brought knowledge, expertise, construction, and management of our project; the full package. The amount of oversight, planning and coordination for a project like ours is unbelievable. One change to the schedule starts a chain reaction on each team member of the project. Combined with the ordering of every single item for the project, delivery and installation, this coordination is not to be undervalued.

Not to mention, that if something was in question during the construction phase, our Lead Carpenter, Production Manager, the Design Team and sometimes even the owner, was at the ready to help to keep the project on-track.

In reminiscing on the project as a whole, I do feel like I earned the right to share a few tips…

  1. Although a renovation will cause stress, try not to take out unnecessary stress on your delightful design build company… believe it or not, they want this project to go better than you want it to.

  2. Speak with your home team, your family. If you are seeing stress with your family, ask them specifically what it is that is making this so difficult. Quite often, even young, adaptable kids don’t like a lot of change. They may not like the routine of napping, but quite often they like their space more than we know.

  3. If you and your family are moving out for the renovation, have good conversations with them in advance. Ask your design build team to share pictures of what the space will look like and share them with the kids.

  4. If the kiddos are old enough, have them help with the demo. Even Moms can enjoy swinging a sledge hammer!

  5. Grab your old digital camera (no, not your phone) and let your kids digitally scrapbook the renovation. If you still actually print pictures, than even better. Alternatively Vistaprint creates great albums in minutes.

  6. Try and remember to breathe and visualise yourself in the new space. Start thinking about décor, furniture and remember, there is an end in sight. Looking back, it really is only a small blip in time for a space that you and your family will enjoy and grow into for years to come.

  7. Sometimes, you honestly just need to sit down in the middle of the space with a beverage of some sort (yes, when you get up you will have drywall dust on your butt) and just look around. Remember what it looked like and why you are doing this renovation, take a sip and smile.

All I can say is we did it, and we love it! Although the process was a bit stressful, it really is only a small period of time. When we prepare dinner in our new kitchen, and have the kids load the dishwasher, it is a joy. Afterwards we can sit in our new living room with our beautiful fireplace, dim the lights and enjoy a glass of wine. It is all worth it, every second.

Thank you ARTium Design Build

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