Question: Why do you recommend we spend so much time on design? I already kind of know what I want. Wouldn’t it just be faster to get started with demolition and make decisions as we go?
Those are valid questions, but we’ve learned through experience that there is no good “short answer” that accurately conveys just how important the design portion of your project is. So let’s look at your project from the viewpoint that the finished room is a destination and the design/build process is how you get there.
Planning | Design
Pretend for a moment that you and your next door neighbor decide to take a combined family vacation to Disney World in Florida and you’re all afraid to fly. Since there are more of you than any of your vehicles can hold and you’re not sure you want to rent a passenger van (after all, being confined in one with three other adults, four kids and two dogs is more than you think you can handle), you agree to drive separately and meet there at the villa you will all call home for two weeks.
Your neighbor is ever the spontaneous guy, and a little bit competitive to boot. He jokes about beating you there and grabbing the “best” rooms. So, while you decide to leave out after getting your car’s oil changed in the morning, he packs up his family and dog, checks that there is a US map in the glove box, and heads out tonight. He’s a “construction-only” kind of guy.
You, on the other hand, are the type to invest in design. You don’t like to drive in the dark: too easy to get tired, too easy for wildlife to wander onto the highway. So while he’s busy leaving Seattle, crossing the Cascades in the dark, you’re busy planning your trip with the help of one of your travel agent friends. She has lots of great tips to make things go smoothly, and she recommends places to stay along the way to help you to make the most of your trip.
You follow her instructions and check the extended forecast and visit various travel websites to check for possible road construction snafus. You map out your construction-free route around a tornado warning area and identify likely stopping points each day before it gets dark. For each night, you search for nice hotels that accept pets, noting that one motel franchise accepts pets at all locations. It’s not your first choice of places to stay, but good to have as a backup. Because there are so many variables that might impact how much progress you make each day, you decide to only book one night in advance, making subsequent reservations when you call it quits each day. As a contingency, you have a list of three pet-friendly hotels and their phone numbers for each city, as well as a travel guide for the pet-friendly motel chain that lists all their US locations. You make sure your GPS is up-to-date and pre-program the first night’s hotel address, but print out door-to-door directions (just in case). After all the suitcases are packed (having filled them against an exhaustive checklist you developed over many prior family vacations), you go to bed, comforted by the knowledge you have everything under control.
Traveling | Construction
The next morning, you get up early because you’re the first scheduled oil change of the day at your local dealership. While you’re there, they top off fluid levels, check for any obvious problems and give you the thumbs up to drive your car cross country. Finally excited about your trip, you head home, pack up the car, family, and dog and hit the highway. Glancing at your watch, you realize your neighbors have a full 15-hour head start, but it’s a beautiful day and the kids are both happily watching videos with their headphones on, while you and your spouse take turns singing to the radio. Life is good.
Everything goes without a hitch, although you did have to resort to one of your alternate hotels on the third night since your first choice of pet-friendly hotels was full. However, since you already had their number and address with you, it was no hassle at all. On the fourth day, you roll up to the villa, expecting your neighbors to already be there. Surprised, you visit the rental office and sign-in, getting the keys. Just as you’re lifting the last suitcase out of the trunk, your neighbors pull into the driveway beside you with a busted passenger’s side headlight and two obviously new front tires. You can’t help but ask, “What on Earth happened?”
For the next three hours, your neighbors regale you of their experience. They hit a deer the first night while crossing the Cascades, netting the broken headlight. Calling a local dealership the following morning, they find out the entire headlight assembly needs to be replaced at a cost in excess of $1,000 (and the dealership didn’t have it in stock). They had to stop early for weather on the second full day into the trip when storm cells produced large hail and ferocious gusts of
When it was all said and done, their “experience” cost them an extra hotel night (to make up the lost time), one hotel rate that was over double the others, two new tires and, once they get home, a new headlight assembly…and they didn’t arrive at the villa any earlier than they would have, had they planned things in advance. Worse, they all arrived tired and stressed (including the dog).
You and yours, on the other hand, were able to enjoy the drive, arriving relaxed and ready to enjoy your villa for the next two weeks.
And that’s the difference between spending the time to carefully plot out your entire remodeling project with a designer, rather than have a contractor break out the hammer and nails from the get-go. While it takes longer before you begin physical construction, you have fewer surprises, allowing you to stick to a budget and a schedule.