Sunday, March 4, 2012

Glen's Reno Series/Volume 1: Concepts

Through a series of installments on this blog I am going to walk you through the steps that I have deemed necessary to conquer your home improvement project. Be it large or small there are myriad details to cover and I want you to know how they fall into place. But what may surprise many is just how little information a good contractor needs to get your project started. Remember, most builders are just like you; honest, hard working people who live on their reputation. They don't want to lead you astray, but things will fall apart quickly if there is a misunderstanding. I'll walk you through key elements in the proper order for a successfully project; concept, budget, design, choosing a contractor, negotiations, contract, schedule, construction, deficiencies and signing off.

There is a whole other issue that I'd like to cover someday called "The Holmes Effect". Without question Mike is a hero. He has raised the bar on what is expected from a contractor. I have witnessed some downright dodgy workmanship even here in a small city like Saint John, so no one is immune. What Mike has done though is scare some folks off of getting work done in their homes for fear of getting burned. This is wrong. "Get it in writing" is key. But what if you don't know the language? This series of articles will help you nail the language and, in a linear and logical way, understand what you want and help you achieve that goal.

In the first of the series we are going to cover Concept.

The conceptual stage is often goes like this: you wanting to have something in your home that you don't. It'll be vague at first. Something like, "boy, I wish we had more room for the kids to play." Or, "Dear, this bathroom really needs help." Or simply, "We need more space!"
The number one enemy most people is fear of the unknown. Oh the unknown. The paint, tile, fixtures, flooring, costs. Understandably its enough to drive real fear into the hearts of those looking to start a project. I Have a handy trick for slaying that fear and it can be found in any grocery store. Its called... the magazine.

Seriously, none of us are designers. Some designers aren't! We are all good at our jobs but we can't be everything. If we spend our time working all day and the rest of it with our families how are we supposed to know whats trending, what will look good enough to sell in five years or what will please us even in the short term.

Fortunately, there is a whole industry out there with the exclusive goal of helping us make up our minds when it comes to design in our homes. Designers earn their bread not just by going into homes and being all fru fru, but by featuring their designs in magazines. It gives us an easy way to sample whats out there, from classics to the hot trenders. Space in those magazines, and books too, is highly competitive and by the time it goes to print you are getting the cream of the crop. Pick out one or two who's cover showcases a project like yours and take a look through. After spending twenty bucks you are definitely going to find something that you love.  Mix and match the concepts that you find to complete the vision in your mind that is now coming together. Start being organized now and bookmark those things that you find interesting and save them for later on in the process. You may even want to take those concepts to a designer if you want some help, but remember. A good designer merely takes the ideas that you have and finesses them. That extra step is up to you. Good tip: after you've nailed down some concepts show them to your partner. Nothing gets someone on side like visuals and it'll pave the way for a smooth ride later on.

Another tip: The concept stage is not the time to be wandering around home improvement centers looking for a solution to fall from the room trusses. You didn't learn to bake by walking down the flour isle. Don't design your kitchen around the cabinet you saw on sale day. The shopping part comes much later, after you've cemented your design.

So keep those concepts that you have found. You'll be going into the budget phase next and they will help you make good choices in the later stages. By now, the fear will be a distant memory and you'll be looking forward to your new project.

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