Home improvement ideas - getting started

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Posted by: from Paris

We have lots of ideas for renovating our home but unsure of the feasibility of some of them. We have not undertaken a large renovation before and unsure where to start with the initial planning (as well as building regulations etc). Would a contractor be involved from the very start or would we need some kind of design service/architect to get the ball rolling? We have thought of extending two stories at the back of the house or adding an addition upwards but not sure of the level of work involved in each or if the current structure would even allow for that. Any advice on where to start with the planning?

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Hi Dan,

Yes get a Engineering firm to look at your house, first to insure that it will support a second floor and they will do some plans for you for all the permits you require. Get many copies as you want to get at least 3 estimates from 3 large contractors. Investigate them before you even call them.

The more detail you have on your estimate the better. This type of renovation ( depending on what exactly you want ) could run you 3 to 6 months. Do not plan to live in the house at this time. Your probably looking at between 150K to 250K depending on your finishes and budget.

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Hi There!

First advice is to ignore stupidities you'll see on this post. You don't know what you want but they know how much is going to cost. Since you never done something like this and it is involved, try to select honest and knowledgeable contractor any dissent contractor should have Architects and structural Engineers that Hes dealing with, try to make a deal with contractor for entire project and he would know what to do.

Good Luck!


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G'Day Dan,

The best advice I can offer would be to firstly speak to an architect about the size of addition you can add regarding your property. When building additions we have to follow such guidelines regarding to site/side setbacks and other by-laws depending on which municipality you are in. An Architect can fill you in on all those and can draw the plans to suit.

From there once you have received the drawings you can start interviewing contractors and it will make the process a little easier.

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Good question Dan! Your project sounds like a lot of fun!

Yes, there are so many phases of a large project like this and it can be overwhelming!

Over the years we have found that our clients benefit best from an initial concept meeting to review all the possible ideas (2 story vs extended bungalow vs side split). AND THIS SAVES YOU MONEY!

Our Interior/Kitchen designer and our General Contractor BOTH come out and review ALL your ideas. A meeting like this can be 2-3 hours of educating, giving pros and cons, considering resale elements( not that you will ever want to move!), answering your questions and so on.

BE CAREFUL! Not all contractors do additions and new builds! Misty's Kitchens and Design work with a few contractors and call on the ones best suited for that particular job.

And this type of contractor will know all about building regulations!

Now the designer will help with a proposed layout before you have to pay for an architect to do the final plan. A designer finds out how you live day to day and implements them into your new build design. An architects job is not concerned about that.

So, the combination of an Interior/Kitchen designer and a General Contractor coming out and reviewing ALL your ideas is a GREAT first start to get the ball rolling.

It will save you money, cut time wasted for back and forth plan changes and give you the BEST outcome for the large renovation you are hoping for!

Good luck Dan!

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Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond. I've tried researching online but it's a bit of a minefield especially if you don't know what terminology to use or what the different professions actually do. It sounds like a designer suits our needs first so we can knock some ideas around before moving onto the next step.

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In such case, the best idea is to try to find a knowledgeable and reputable contractor that can help you with the process even in case you need a help of an engineer with a design or permit process.

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