Saturday, July 2, 2011

Renovation Test

For anyone thinking about home renovation, do yourself a favor, take this test before you begin. 

To take part, all you’ll need is a digital camera, a notepad, pen and your mind.

For those in an average sized home, I’d estimate the test will take between 3 & 4 hours to complete.  I consider two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, a living and a dining room as average.  I do not include basements, second floors, attics or outdoor space in the estimate.  If your home exceeds these specifications, I would suggest allotting for additional time.  I also advise providing leeway for any delays.

Decide on a time and block it off on the calendar.   As simple as this may sound, many skip this step.  I strongly advise you not to skip any of the steps, but especially this one.  Memory reminders, to-do lists, outlines and so forth are important pieces to any project.  They remind you of key information as well as providing a reference to gauge your progress and pace.

This test uses lateral thinking. It calls upon your creative side, to develop and work through ideas. It lets you see things from various angles.  Allowing your creative side to roam, without restriction, traditionally produces many ideas, without sacrificing quality.   

The test is reproduced for each room. 
1.   Pick a room to start with.  I prefer working backwards, from largest to smallest.
2.   Use the digital camera by photographing every inch of the room.
3.   Take out the notepad and pen.  Record your impressions of the room. The impressions can be:
A.     Areas/features you like/dislike
B.  Ideas for structural change (drastic) (wall removal etc.)
C.  Ideas for structural change (minor) (room design etc.)
D.  Ideas for aesthetic change (paint, carpet etc.)
E.  Ideas for aesthetic change (furniture, décor etc.)
F.  Areas for improvement consideration
Think in terms of what you can do to build upon your ideas in sections A-E.  Many times you’ll be repeating yourself.  However, this step is important, it provides another opportunity to assess each detail.   You’ll see if your ideas are reasonable or unrealistic.    
4.   Draw a rough sketch or diagram based on step 3.  Artistic ability is not necessary.  You’re just making a visual aid for future reference.
5.   Evaluate your sketch.  Does your design still work or do you need to repeat step 3?  By seeing things visually:
A.   We affirm our initial impressions.
B.   We refute our initial impressions.
C.   We see points to build upon or remove
6.   Write down your reactions to Step 5. 
7.   If you’re not happy with the results, repeat the steps until satisfied. If you are satisfied move on to the next room.

You’ll repeat steps 2-6 for each subsequent room.  After each room has been assessed satisfactorily you’ll move on to the test’s final section. 
1.   Log on to your computer
2.   Attach your digital camera
3.   Open up your photographs
4.   Use a photo program to sort the pictures.
5.   Combine them, like a jigsaw puzzle, until you have a full representation of your room.
6.    Refer to your sketches
7.   Start editing the picture: 
A.   See how objects from other rooms fit into the current room.  How do you feel about the Armoire in your bedroom instead of the living room?  How does the large flat-screen fit in the dining room?
B.   Do the same thing, this time for walls, ceilings and floors?  Tile Vs. hardwood?  Carpet Vs. Throw-rug?  How would teal look in your kitchen?  How would lime work, surrounded by oak furniture? 
C.   Keep playing around. See the difference removing a wall creates.  Look at the change new windows makes.  How does alteration affect ambiance? How does the lighting design?
Once you’re done experimenting you should be able to make a confident decision regarding your renovation. 

Before you start your project, here are a few additional ideas to keep in mind:

1.            Estimated cost
Cost may not be an issue, but it’s always a good idea to compare value.  You may really like two differently priced designs.  In this case, cost may play a role in your choice.
2.            Home Value
How will your renovations affect the value of your Home?  Many changes can increase or decrease home value.  This can vary by regionally and demographically. 
3.            Ordinances/Regulations/Permits
Ordinances are common in most regions.  Permits are almost always required to begin a project. This information is essential for the do-it-yourselfer. But even if you use a contractor, it’s beneficial to be aware of the requirements.  In addition to ensuring the contractor doesn’t take shortcuts or liberties with permits or regulations, this knowledge can also be useful during negotiations.
4.            Open houses
An open house can be an easy way to locate new ideas.  In addition to observing layouts and design, you may find a nuance you were previously unaware of, that can enhance or improve your own renovation design.

Once you’ve completed this test you should be ready to start renovating. By completing each step you should feel confident moving forward, as you’ve experimented with numerous facets of the layout and design process.  Lateral thinking and creative design helps raise unlimited possibility in your design. It can make the invisible visible, providing you with a new way to see and interpret. The test should help you make better decisions and instill a sense of enjoyment into the process of your design.  

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