Tuesday, June 7, 2016

"Before Ever Getting Started On A Room Renovation ..."

Before we ever walk into a potential client's home, there are things we should know that are going to affect - if not dictate - how we approach the overall renovation project. Then, once we are physically onsite, we need to confirm our earlier assumptions and ideas and adjust them as necessary.

The actual renovations needed in a room - kitchen, bathroom, living room, basement, carport, hallway, bedroom, or other - are secondary to the physical constraints and characteristics of that space. For instance, is it an enclosed space with just a single means (doorway) of access and egress? Does a person enter from one side of the space and walk through it to exit on another side of the space? Are those entrances and exits satisfactory or sufficient? What about mobility challenges that the client might have - or other family members, even if they are just occasional occupants?

What space is adjacent to the subject space? How might it be impacted by renovations in the subject space? Does the adjacent space need to reconfigured, modified, enlarged, or shrunk? Will some of it's floor space be required to bolster that of the subject area?

What constraints are involved in approaching a project in the subject space - such that they are easier if left untouched but doable if they need to be moved? Here, think of items such as electrical wiring (romex or conduit), low voltage wiring (telephone, internet, speakers, gaming centers, and alarms - whether serving that room or just running along  side it), water pipes (copper, CPVC, or pex), drain lines (cast iron, flex, or PVC), dryer vent hoses (aluminum or flex), and gas lines.

What is the physical shape of the room - rectangle, square, irregular, mostly boxy? Is this the optimum dimensions or configuration for this space? If not, how does it need to be modified? Forget cost initially to look at function and safety. Then put the cost back in to evaluate alternatives.

These are just some of the physical considerations involved in approaching the area in question - the subject of the renovation project. Additional ones are ventilation - from an air quality, heating, cooling, or cross-ventilation standpoint. There is lighting - especially natural lighting from windows or skylights. is this sufficient, or is more lighting required? If it is interior space without any outside walls, what are the challenges in providing more light to that space?

The flooring, both in terms of sub-flooring and the amount of weight it can support as well as the final finish need to be evaluated. Is a shoring up of the floor system needed as part of the project?

Learning what the client intends to do in the space, for how long they need or desire that activity, why the space is not functional at present, and of course the budget, are all important factors to consider as well.

There are so many aspects to assessing, designing, and then implementing a successful renovation project - especially one that meets the aging-in-place needs of the client. This is where our CAPS training becomes useful and where we have an opportunity to serve our clients more skillfully than non-trained contractors.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.