Here are five lessons we have learned over the years about planning and process when it comes to remodeling projects whether in metro Atlanta or elsewhere.
- Size Doesn’t Matter: I can’t think of a project of ours, whether it’s $25,000 or $425,000, that isn’t better due to thoughtful planning, design, due diligence, material selections, budget-making and scheduling. In the words of the late Stephen Covey, “begin with the end in mind.” Small-to-medium projects are based on the same progressions as larger ones, perhaps not as complex but also with less margin for error. Sprint or marathon, you still train, plan and prepare for a successful outcome.
- Planning Takes Time: Almost everyone, a few wise souls excluded, wants what they want when they want it. But this I have learned: some people love “the process” too much and most people don’t love it enough. My focus is more on the latter. It’s a good thing to be excited and ready to charge ahead with a home renovation, but hold your horses just a bit. Assuming we all want the same thing, a great result, we at MOSAIC want to make sure no one skips important steps along the way. Making sure the project is feasible (budget planning, structural inspection, checking zoning requirements, etc.) takes time and work, and design that is a great fit for your home and tastes takes time and work, and of course proper permitting the same. The basic truth, sometimes counterintuitive, is that great planning saves money and time — shorter schedules, fewer change orders, reduced mistakes.
- A Code Around Every Corner: Every year, new government regulations come on line, sometimes catching even those of us who do “this” every day flat-footed. Even some of the laws and regulations that are prominent and carry hefty fines, like the RRP regulations that define lead abatement for remodeling projects, can be confusing, potentially expensive, and require special certifications in order to do business. On top of that, new products are being produced and released in a steady stream, some excellent and others mediocre, with many related to improving efficiency and durability. Vigilance and continuing educational efforts are required to manage both of these variables and to continue to plan, design and build successful projects for our clients.
- Lake or Rapids?: There are a plethora of studies exploring tolerance for risk in our personalities. We have clients who point to our “planning funnel” and see a reflection of how they work and live and it comforts them to realize they will know where they are milestone by milestone. Not infrequently, their own work or business has an analogous system. Others may see the funnel as a Class 4 rapid and wonder how quickly they can navigate it as both a challenge and an obstruction. In both cases and all in between, it’s our job to fit the process to the comfort zone of the client while ensuring that everyone arrives safely at a fantastic project. Risk-takers surprisingly often plan more carefully than we plodders!
- Design/Build Rocks: When the same firm plans and builds your project, you have the best of all worlds. Granted you must do your due diligence to ensure that the company is truly proficient at all aspects of planning, design and construction, but when this is the case, you have an efficient process where all aspects of the project are handled by one firm, where designers can huddle with the production staff, and where sales consultants can manage an integrated program for your project, no matter its size or complexity. And accountability cannot be shuffled away by saying the other guy “did it” because the other guy is in the same building!
By William Fadul, CR, GCP, Principal and Co-owner, MOSAIC Group [Architects and Remodelers], Atlanta, Georgia