Comfort is King

Here you are in your kitchen, bumping into each other, isolated from the living areas of your home. There’s not enough counter space. You need more storage. Parts of your house are dark. The bedrooms are small, and the bathrooms are definitely last-century.

You figure it’s time to move to a condo (or a brighter, roomier place somewhere). On the other hand, you might just want to stay put and make some changes. All you have to do is come up with a good design, a reputable contractor, and Bob’s your uncle.

Well, sort of. It’s a little more complicated than that. If you’re at this stage, it’s time to step back and look at your home through a wide lens. Architects and designers like to use the word “holistic”, because when you make changes in one area, they often impact another. It’s important to look at the whole rather than just a room or an area.

It’s also important to consider your own particular lifestyle and the way your family is growing or changing so everything works seamlessly.

Questions to ask yourself about your own needs and interests:

  • Is this your “transition” or “forever” home?
  • Are you downsizing or expanding family?
  • Are you incorporating multi-generations?
  • Does anyone in your household have allergies?
  • Do you have mobility concerns? Are you thinking about aging in place?
  • How easy will a new renovation be to clean and maintain?
  • How will indoor/outdoor access/integration and sight lines work?
  • Is natural light important?
  • Are you thinking of an EV (electric vehicle)?
  • Is this the first of further renovations?
  • What is your end goal?
  • Are you okay about undoing this renovation to accommodate a future project?

About the nitty-gritty:

  • Is your proposed new space going to be comfortable?
  • Should you have an energy audit? Are there rebates?
  • Will the renovation impact other spaces – for example, a finished basement?
  • Will the renovation impact mechanical systems?
  • Are there different temperature demands for “in-laws” or regular guests?
  • What about the electrical service – will it be adequate?
  • Is your water hard, and if so, will this impact new fixtures?
  • Will an extra fixture or fixtures trigger a septic upgrade to the system?

About your worries:

  • Will a building permit be required?
  • What are your homeowner insurance requirements?
  • Does your home contain designated substances? [Did you know there are 13 of them, with asbestos being the most common?]
  • Are you worried about products matching?
  • Are you worried about being overwhelmed by choices?
  • Are you worried about delays, cost overruns?

About construction:

  • Will you be moving out during construction?
  • Will you be living in your home through renovations? (In that case, what about safety: pets, children, neighbours?)
  • Will you be working from home? (Will noise be an issue?)
  • Are you okay with cost overruns? Is there a contingency? Or would you rather know beforehand?
  • Are you okay with weeks of delays? Sometimes it makes sense not to start until you’re certain when products will show up. (Why rush to start only to grind to a halt?)
  • Are there things hidden behind walls? How can this be mitigated?

About finding a contractor:

Do some careful research and homework. Find a company with people who will listen to you and understand your needs. What’s their process, and will it fit you? Do they have experience with your type of project? Are they able to answer your questions to your satisfaction? 

Make sure they’re proactive in identifying all the elements of your project so the thinking and planning will be from a holistic perspective. 

And then: enjoy the light!