How to get started

You may want to start a renovation project but so many questions come to mind:

“How do I get started?”

“Who do I need to hire?”

“Who do I need to hire first?”

I would like to help. So I am putting together a series of blog posts to assist anyone that wants to start a home renovation project, but needs a little more information on how to get started and what the process can look like. My advice comes as an Interior Designer that has been working in the design industry in Utah for the past 7 years after graduating with a BA in Interior Design. This process is what I have found works best, but other design and construction professionals might prefer another method. Below I have outlined in more detail what each of these phases look like to help you get started on your project.

Make a Plan

  1. Create a wish list and a NEED list

    • What must you have?

    • What do you want but are willing to compromise on.

  2. Write down what currently works in the space and what does not.

  3. Know your style or start a Pinterest board to help your designer gather a sense of your style.

  4. Create a budget

  5. Plan your ideal timeline of when you would like to start and finish the project.

  6. Think about where you are going to live during construction.

  7. Get on the same page as your partner.

Sounds easy enough right? Get out a pen and paper and start writing down your wishlist. What are the current problems in the space? What needs to change? What would you like to change but are willing to compromise on? These are all questions you need to ask yourself and will help guide the overall process. Start a Pinterest board that you can share with your designer when the time comes. This is also an important time to research costs in your area and set a budget.

Although the timeline might be out of your hands, it is important to have an idea of when you want to start and finish your project. Knowing where you are going to live during construction is easy to overlook, many people think they can live in the space during a remodel; but there are are several factors you need to consider. Where will you cook, shower, sleep, eat, etc?

Last but not least on the making a plan section; get on the same page as your partner (if that applies to you). Sometimes one partner will claim not to care, but down the road after time and money is spent they start to have an opinion or feel left out in the process. I encourage both partners to be present at design meetings, especially in the beginning design phase.

Design Phase

  1. Create a floor plan

  2. Draw Elevations

  3. Select Materials and Fixtures

  4. Rendered floor-plans and perspective drawings are an added bonus to visualize the space.

    In order to start getting bids from contractors and subcontractors, they need to know what they are bidding out. Otherwise everyone is bidding out something different. This makes it hard to know if you are getting the best deal or even if they are bidding out what you wanted in the first place.

    I am an Interior Design by trade so I am inclined to say that this is the time to hire a designer. A trained Interior Designer is knowledgeable on how to plan out the space to maximize it’s potential, will help you see options that most people would miss, and can help you visualize the space using software like AutoCAD, Google Sketchup, Photoshop and more. That being said depending on the size of your project and your own skills this might be something you can do yourself. On the flip side if you have a large renovation that will require adding onto the existing structure or demolishing several load baring walls; an architect might be your first call.

    It might feel early but material and fixtures such as tile, plumbing, special order finishes need to be decided if not ordered by the time construction begins. This ensure there is no hold up to construction when it comes to this area. Because in the world of construction, time is money! It can also take time to decide on these selections so getting started in this process is very important at this time.

Bidding Phase

  1. Contractor

  2. Interior Designer

  3. Architect

  4. Structural Engineers

    The professionals that I would recommend getting bids on first are listed above. They will need the most time to prepare for permit purposes and/or have the longest wait for start times. A contractor might have preferred subcontractors when it comes to electricians, plumbers, painters, floor installers, tile installers, etc. For this reason I would wait to hire these subcontractors until after talking to your contractor.

Construction Phase

Before construction begins make sure your contractor has a permit! Starting a remodel without a permit can cause a lot of headache in the future. Permits are in place to keep you safe and ensure that requirements are not being overlooked. So do not let this step be overlooked! Once construction is ready to begin, make sure you have a schedule from your contractor so you can keep track of everything during this process. Keep in mind that construction commonly has delays for several reasons that are out of anyone’s control. That being said it is important for the Interior Designer or homeowner to have all the finishes ordered in a timely manner that works with the contractors schedule to prevent additional delays.

Finishing Touches

If you would like to use your space once construction ends, the finishing touches need to be ordered long before construction winds down. It can be easy to overlook that a sofa could take 10 weeks for delivery or custom drapery could take even longer depending on the fabric. The most important decorative finish that needs to be accounted for is window treatment so you can have the privacy you deserve. Window treatment can be measured for as soon as the drywall is complete. A designer can put together a plan for all the decorative finishes and furniture to be ordered and installed promptly once construction allows.

Ivy Butler | Owner, Interior Designer | Poise & Ivy Design

I started my firm in 2016 after I worked for two talented design firms both during and after college. I graduated with a BA from the Art Institute of SLC. Being an Interior Designer has always been my dream and I feel lucky to enjoy what I do. Being very creative and organized by nature, these skills are the base of what I believe makes me a great designer. I love helping my clients create a space that is personal to them and gives them something they always dreamed of having.

Learn more about working with Ivy Butler of Poise & Ivy Interior Design through her eDesign Tribe member profile!

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