GPS on mobile phone

A GPS for your remodel.

First question. Have you ever been on a road-trip with a destination in mind, but no idea of how to get there; not even a map? These days, most of us rely on a Global Positioning System (GPS) to direct us to our destination. A GPS successfully leads us to our destination by calculating the most efficient route (most of the time) and communicating what direction to go at each interval of the journey with enough lead-time to prevent us from making a wrong turn.

Second question. Have you ever embarked on a remodel without a set of plans? I bet a lot of you have, or know someone who has. In many cases, clients tend to intrinsically rely on their contractor to provide design services; however, many contractors are unable to furnish a set of plans and typically do not have design training or accreditation in space planning, lighting design and the selection of appropriate materials and colors. Taking this approach can create a lot of ambiguity in the design specifications and is a chronic source of design crimes. Not having a set of plans can also result in misunderstandings between you and your contractor about project specifications and scope, which often develops in to one of those remodel horror stories you’ve all heard about.

Third question. Have you ever built a house without a set of plans? Now I’ve got you! I can imagine no one would say yes to this. Most people are aware that to build a house, plans are needed to meet structural and building code requirements and to define the project scope. Beyond that, house plans allow clients to visualize the layout of the space and functions as a map and set of instructions for building the structure.

Last question. I promise. Why then, would you embark on a remodel without hiring an accredited interior designer to create a set of plans to guide you, your contractor and all of the sub-contractors through the construction of the project?

When making changes to the existing layout of a space (known as a remodel or redesign), or creating a new layout altogether for a bare space (known as a new design) a set of plans is a requirement, not a luxury. Embarking on a remodel without plans will likely increase mistakes, redo’s and associated costs, as well as random acts of design crimes during construction. Only in the event that you’re changing a space cosmetically (known as an update) and not making significant changes to the layout is it logical to forego the use of plans.

Although you may forego the use of plans when updating a space, you can still benefit from using an accredited interior designer to guide you through the selection of materials, fixtures and colors to ensure your update is both current and timeless. A good designer will recommend materials that are enduring, meaning that they will remain ‘in-style’ for years after your update is complete. Choosing materials based on fads in the interior design industry will cause your update (remodel, redesign or new design) to become outdated much more quickly and is generally not a good use of resources – in fact, incorporating fads into your design may ultimately affect the resale value of your home. But, I digress; this is a topic for yet another blog.

So, where was I? Oh, yes; when planning a remodel, a set of drawings will benefit the design and build process in several ways. First, a set of plans defines the scope of work to be completed. Secondly, the technical drawings allow the customer, the contractor and the designer to visualize the redesign. Another very important benefit of using a set of plans is that you can obtain a more accurate bid because the project scope is established – the plans allow you and the contractor to have a common understanding of what is included in the bid. I can’t stress enough how much more empowered you will be when sourcing bids from contractors if you have a set of plans and establish your layout and material choices first. Better yet, I often encourage clients to break out certain elements from the bid and work with them to design and purchase (custom) cabinets, counter tops, tile and fixtures independent of the contractors bid to help yield a better design at a (potentially) lower cost.

You can also hire your interior designer to manage the project from point A to point B – from the initial research, budgeting and planning, to the sourcing of materials and construction. Which reminds me of where I started – pondering a road-trip with a destination in mind, but no idea of how to get there; not even a map. Hiring an accredited interior designer to manage your project is like hiring a guide for your remodel. Much like a GPS, a good designer will develop a scheduled timeline and communicate the design specifications to the sub-contractors with enough lead time to get you exactly to where you want to be – without getting lost, driving into a lake or committing a design crime. The destination? A well-designed and well-executed remodel, a space that you love.


 Written by Darlene Nicolau
Principal Designer, Nico Interior Design

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply