Through a renovator’s eyes

Fun for you? It’s as much fun for us

By Herb Lagois

As defined by Wikipedia: “Renovation (also called remodelling) is the process of improving a structure.”

Interesting! To me, renovating is much more than “improving a structure”.

It is improving lifestyles. It is fulfilling dreams. It is creating lasting relationships. It is the passion, the love for what we do.

The process is indescribable. There is nothing like meeting clients for the first time, presenting design ideas, and collaborating with them to ensure the design meets their needs.

Even discussing the reality of budgets, applying for permits, and creating contract documents is exciting. And of course there is nothing like undertaking the actual construction: A cool design coming together, the anticipation of starting a project, the smell of freshly excavated earth and freshly cut wood, the hustle and bustle of a construction site, and then watching a project reach completion. These are just a few of our daily highlights.

A good renovation appears to be simple, but the sheer magnitude of putting all the bits and pieces together is staggering: meeting the design criteria – are we creating a lifestyle renovation, a retrofit renovation, a maintenance renovation? Are we architecturally blending with existing conditions, or are we creating an architectural statement? Is the design energy efficient? Does it meet health and safety requirements? Is it environmentally responsible? Is it affordable? Are local by-laws being met? Are applicable laws being met – such as septic, flood plain? Does the design consider future requirements such as accessibility?

Once the design process is complete, and technical drawings are created, finish materials need to be selected, a contract with time-lines and specifications drafted, permits applied for, material deliveries organized, trade contractors organized, safety requirements outlined, building inspections coordinated – all in the proper sequence. Wow.

The size and complexity of a renovation may determine whether you hire a renovator or undertake the project yourself. Does your job permit time to manage your construction project? Do family obligations permit enough time to manage it? Do you have the ability to deal with all the bits and pieces? For my entire career I have stressed that every successful project must start with an excellent design, excellent plan, and a well-thought-out overall action plan with an end goal.

So, as we are approaching yet another fall, as you are contemplating improving your “structure” – improving your home, my advice is to take your time selecting a design professional or renovator who can meet your needs. Be sure they are individuals and/or firms you can work with. Will they listen? Are they members of associations such as OCHBA’s RenoMark?

Keep in mind all the bits and pieces and the time it takes to put them all together. Try not to rush decisions. Get references. Ask questions. Get everything in writing.

And most importantly, enjoy the process.

I certainly do!