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Monday, September 26, 2022
Arch-i-text: Do your reno groundwork

Even under the best circumstances, renovation projects often have a tendency to expand. Almost inevitably there is “job creep” that occurs as the work reveals hidden issues that require additional labour and materials to address.

However, nearly as common is the “runaway reno,” wherein changes, additions and upgrades drive the renovation far beyond its original objective and budget.

To manage any project well, and to end up with a result that actually meets your defined criteria, developing a scope-of-work document is invaluable.

Provided you have sufficient expertise in all facets of the renovation process, this document can be self-authored, but more typically it is something that should be provided by your general contractor and form the core of their contract.

In order for them to develop a scope-of-work proposal it is incumbent upon you, the client, to provide clear and detailed information speaking to your needs, wants, desires and limitations.

In our last column we looked at employing a diary to identify and prioritize the issues that ideally will be solved through the renovation. The resulting list will likely contain most of your must-haves (needs), some should-haves (wants) and perhaps a few of nice-to-haves (desires). However, it will not be complete.

I suggest you engage a professional design consultant whose experience will both elicit dialogue to develop a more fully realized list and provide conceptual options to serve as the basis of your design development. Note that this is not design but rather establishment of the criteria the design must fulfil.

In my opinion this critical step is probably most overlooked by clients and almost invariably leads to an unsatisfactory “runaway reno” where all sorts of things are missed and other items added at a higher cost later.

At this juncture a preliminary budget for the project needs to be identified. Here again, a third-party design consultant can be a solid source of information.

While such an individual cannot provide actual pricing, they can suggest general estimates based on the design criteria developed. Realistically, it’s good practice to take this estimate and add about 20 per cent contingency to cover “job creep” issues. When budgeting for a reno, it’s always best to prepare for the worst and then manage to the best.

Stay tuned next week for smart selection of your design and contracting professionals.