Renovating your home requires thorough research and a detailed plan to guarantee the desired outcome. Are you thinking about adding an addition? Or perhaps laying new hardwood flooring, replacing windows or replacing the roof? Maybe it is just interior and exterior painting. Do you live in a historic district/home?
Whatever the decision, you want be sure to allow plenty of time to create a workable plan. As we approached early spring, 2020 most of the world had shut down. After getting settled to a new way of doing things, perhaps now is a good time to begin planning for 2022 and beyond. My current design project is out-of-state in Sewickly, Pennsylvania. It is not a renovation, but rather a historic preservation of a 1815 original structure with amazing history and details. My first site visit was in August, 2021.
Checking the critical details
The first step is to conduct research on your home. It's important to under the architectural style, the materials originally used to build it, and how it relates to the neighborhood that you live in. Continuity is what creates desirable curb appeal and adds to property values.
I have seen the results from a lack of diligent research neighborhoods around the country. Look for a post soon on the appropriate/inappropriate aesthetics when it comes to exterior renovations/remodeling. Many factors determine a successful outcome.
In some cases, the budget may not enable a homeowner to completely fulfill their vision. This means taking a step back, and perhaps doing a part of it now, and the remainder later, or scaling back the project to fit within a set budget.
In other cases, there is too much money allotted, which can lead to the tendency to over-renovate for the property value, and the location of the property. For example, it is better to reduce the footprint of a dining room addition and have fewer windows or French doors that are of higher quality, than to only focus on too much space and incorporate low-end materials that will not last as long. Too much of anything is never a good thing.
In addition, suppose a kitchen renovation is in your mind. Spending $200,000 on a kitchen renovation for instance, may or may not be wise depending on the home's value and overall aesthetic; just ask yourself, "Would most people want to buy what I am about to do if I decided to move?" The choices in the marketplace are endless, and constantly change. I can help guide you in this area. The companies with more integrity and experience will work with you on suitability and aesthetics in creating your plan.
A design professional can be helpful at this stage to avoid costly mistakes and aesthetic problems later on.
- How do you live? How do you entertain? formal or informally?
- Do you have children and/or pets?
- Do you have in-laws who visit frequently?
- What is your daily routine?
- What is your budget?
- Do you want active involvement with the contractor/architect
As most people know, renovation in general is not as much fun as the planning stages, or the final walk-through after completion. The best scenario is to live off the premises while it is under construction. If you are wanting to live in the house while renovations are going on, be prepared for dust, noise, trash, debris, and more trash, debris, and some toxic odors. Spring and Fall are the best times so that open windows can ensure adequate ventilation.
If possible, be sure that your contractors/tradesmen seal off the area and pay attention to the floors below. Sanding dust from wood and plaster/wallboard is extremely fine and can travel through between floor boards through openings for lighting fixtures, and the wall base. In addition, be prepared for the unexpected, as you will see in the videos further into the post for a current attic renovation project.
Residential European flat undergoing renovation
Retaining the decorative plaster ceiling shown in flat above is a key feature in the future of this room. Sometimes plaster just needs a bit of restoration, and other times it requires major work. It can be expensive to hire tradesmen that understand how to work correctly with plaster, however in the end, it is worth every dollar spent. This is critical when working in historic properties. Understanding what you have is the first step in any successful renovation/restoration. Sometimes you may need a paint historian, whose job is to analyze structures and surfaces to determine construction sequences, and original color palettes. It just depends on where you want to take it.
The Library at historic AVOCA, in Ellicott City, MD Plaster and window frame repairs
Row house renovation in Washington DC
Hmmmm, now what's wrong in the picture above? HVAC and water don't mix, at least not like this. I can just imagine what happens if the dishwasher were to overflow. The home owners will empty that bottle sitting on the counter and it won't be to celebrate anything! This is why hiring experts in any field is beneficial to you.
I have known Anthony Kochis (Tony) proprietor of A.J. Kochis Co., LLC. since the early 90s. After graduating with a Bachelor's degree in architecture from Cornell University in upstate New York, Tony set out on his life-long journey in architecture and design/build. Working on numerous projects, including his own home through the years, he has built an impressive project resume. A.J. Kochis Co., Inc. specializes in residential remodeling of all types and scope.
In 2007 he joined Glass Construction in Washington, DC. and worked on major construction projects including several properties in Northwest Washington, DC (one is shown below).
In 2020, he returned to working exclusively for himself and large roster of projects with an amazing attention to detail as shown in the two video clips on your right.
This is part of an ongoing project for long-time clients. The clients wanted to convert the attic into the master bedroom suite. A failing roof ridge was beginning to alter the roof construction and would eventually lead to a collapse. Tony explains the challenges on this project. The before and construction images are shown below.
Individually cut and laid slate creates the inset floring in Tony's own home. Serious detail and patience!
From American Bungalow, to American Federal
Federal "Smith's Row" Townhouse in Georgetown, Washington DC Renovation by Glass Construction, Washington, DC
I have heard the phrase, "you can't always judge a book by its cover." In this case, one can never assume what is behind the front door of a home. Tony, acting as the project manager, oversaw this Chrysalis Award winning interior design inside this stately traditional brick home. This is the beauty of living in a historic district; you won't have to worry about the disasters that I have seen all around my city through the years. Honestly, I am just baffled by what I see sometimes. More of THAT in the next post on renovations. For now, let's go inside. This renovation resonates well with me. First because is respects the original architectural shell. Second, I like the staircase design, and how the fenestration retains the classic character inside, and allows daylight and air into the rooms. Overall, it is modern, yet not austere.
Architecture: Jacobsen Architecture, LLC; Project Managment, Tony Kochis, Glass Construction, WDC; Photography: Hoachlander Davis Photography
Architecture: Jacobsen Architecture, LLC; Project Management, Tony Kochis, Glass Construction, WDC; Photography: Hoachlander Davis Photography
In 2021, I had the pleasure of meeting Mathew Tao. Matthew is a small business entrepreneur in Montgomery County, Maryland. His career began with painting and landscaping at age 16. Through the years, major construction projects with Luther Contracting included an 1800’s farmhouse renovation (2015), an entire house remodel with a 540 square foot master suite addition (2016), and an entire house remodel with 1000 square foot addition (2017-2018). In 2019, he launched Tao Contracting, LLC. He currently specializes in restoration and remodeling of old and new homes alike, with older homes being his specialty.
TAO Contracting home page
Shown below is the hallway leading to a master bedroom in a home owned by a property developer from Baltimore City. The master bath is on the left, and the to the right, the future dressing room. This was a small part of a large brick home in Maryland and was owned by the decendants of Edgar Allen Poe. I had the distinct pleasure of submitting a bid on the master bedroom (end of this hallway) to participate in the 2018 BSO Decorator Show House. You may see part of my submission on my main creative design website.
Hallway leading to master bedroom
Do you have a renovation or new design project on your mind? If so, book your Discovery Call with me and let's talk about it. Spring is not that far away. I can assist you with the interiors after the renovation/new build is complete. On a general principle, I don't follow trends. It is more about what is appropriate for the architectural style, and how individual components can work harmoniously together, and what you desire to live with. After all, this is your home.