I love how we always get pigeon-holed into the Mega-Mansion world. Yes we do our fair share of Mega-Mansions and we love them! However, most people find it surprising that probably a good 40% of our work are remodels, renovations, and additions….and we love them!
Candelaria Design Formal Mediterranean Estate in Paradise Valley ~ Desert Star Construction ~ Crestwood Homes
Before - Clearwater Estates
Most architects once they break into the Mega-Mansion marketplace turn their noses to the remodel and addition market. Not us – I have been doing remodels and additions for over thirty years.
I have many reasons for this. First, I love the challenge of a remodel or an addition. They are like a big puzzle waiting to be solved. How do you take something that might be well done and add or modify it, or how do you take something that is horrible and make it all better? People expect perfection when you design and build from scratch but with a remodel it usually is more of a feeling or need for help or for any level of improvement.
After - Clearwater Estates
The market is huge and with the plethora of bad homes that were hastily designed and constructed during the last boom cycle, the inventory of potential remodels is enormous. Land is getting harder and harder to find and lots with great views even tougher. I am always amazed at how many absolutely horrible homes are parked on amazing lots.
Before - Clearwater Estates
I know that one of the best ways to evaluate a remodel or potential remodel is before you purchase it! This can’t always be done, but if you are in that position it is best to have an architect and builder on board as part of your team to assess the property in terms of your needs and wishes. Set up an adequate due diligence period with the seller and get to work. If you already own the property and have been living there for
awhile then that can be an advantage too in that you know the property and what its downfalls are but you may not see all the advantages – the "can't see the trees in the forest" phenomenon. Get your builder and architect out there and do the same thing – some brainstorming!
After - Clearwater Estates
I then like to quickly sketch some thoughts on an as-built set of plans. First a little bit about as-builts. I don’t care what set of plans you may or may not have, they will be wrong and not accurate. We always take some time to go through and verify the as-builts as best we can. These are our XRays and if they are not right it is difficult to diagnose the patient correctly.
We like to do our own as-builts of both the plans and exterior elevations so that we actually see every corner of the house inside and out. It gets the house in our heads.
Many times, depending on what we are doing we like to get a survey showing all property lines, setbacks, and easements. I cannot tell you how many existing homes are over setbacks or even over property lines! We always want a copy of the CC&R’s to make sure we understand the deed restrictions of the properties. Most properties don’t allow chickens or small farm animals, amongst other things that you will likely find most interesting and many times politically incorrect! We always get down to the local jurisdiction and/or HOA and see what they have up their sleeves.
Many projects require design review of some sort so you want to have a good face to face with them as they can make your life miserable if you ignore their wishes.
Kitchen - Before
Ok with that done, our process then starts with sitting down with the homeowner and having a brainstorming “what if” session.
This is fun and creative. Instead of me sitting down with their wish list and coming up with something I think is unique and special, I like to do this process with the homeowner. I like to extract their ideas and make them creative and beautiful. They know their house and they know what they like! Once we have some ideas on paper we clean them up and break them down into almost a shopping list of areas or phases that the builder can then prepare an initial budget range for each item or area. From there we can dial in the scope a bit more and then further develop the design knowing where the budget it. So many architects and designers lose this aspect and carry the client to far down the design path without getting a handle on the budget. It is difficult to budget remodels and additions because they are usually so piecemeal. Having a great team with a lot of past historical data on hand really makes a difference.
The last thing you want to do is go all the way down the design path and then put the project out to bid!!! That is the absolute worst way to do a project of this nature. It all becomes about price and opens the client up to a plethora of unexpected surprises and stress.
Kitchen - After
As the design develops the budget and pricing follows along. We love the team approach! It has proven over and over to be the most successful way to execute a remodel and addition.
No project is too big or too small. We are doing everything form whole house remodel/makeovers to just picking new paint colors and tweaking a few materials and the landscaping on the exterior. I am always amazed at how sometimes just a few modifications, well done and well thought out can make an enormous difference to the aesthetic
feel and value of a property and how using someone unskilled can completely ruin the value of a property.
Concept Sketch and Project Under Construction with Schultz Development
Before - AZ Biltmore Patio Home
The other big question that pops up during major remodels and renovations is should we just take the whole thing down. I personally hate to see and generate unnecessary waste so I am always inclined to try and save and work with what’s
there but there is a point where it just does not make sense and scraping is the right answer. Again, having the architect and builder on board right out of the gate can really help a homeowner make the proper assessment as early as possible so that fees and costs are kept to a minimum.
The problem many times with homeowners is they start the project with a limited scope and vision but then during the process, especially during construction, get carried away and start the “while we are at it” drill and next thing you know they are remodeling or modifying the whole house. That gets expensive and that’s usually when I hear “we should have taken the whole thing down!” Take your time folks! Don’t rush the design and budgeting process. Think through the design – live with the ideas for a while before you rush into demolishing!
Also – work with your team during the design phase to get all of your selections, materials, and goodies selected. These will make up 50% of your budget and if done ahead of starting construction it will save you time, money and aggrevation!
After - AZ Biltmore Patio home ~ Schultz Development
Ok – I will leave it there for now. Definitely more to come on this subject. I will be posting several Before and Afters in the months ahead and relay some of the lessons and cool ideas learned in each project! The important thing is to put a great team together, set your budget and expectations early and clearly and work WITH your team to create beauty and value! And remember to have FUN!
Team Photo - House under construction in Desert Mountain ~ Signature Homes ~ Earth & Images Interiors