by Guest Contributor Ines Hanl
Social media can be such a great resource – if you know what you are looking for.
When someone in a local Facebook group recently asked whom to best hire for a kitchen renovation, recommendations came pouring in. Names of drywallers and electricians, handymen, kitchen cabinet suppliers, millwork shops, kitchen designers, architectural designers, renovators and general contractors flooded the feed. Studying the lengthy list, I was wondering if the person asking the question was in the end any closer to a decision.
When you embark on a renovation, you open-up two of the most important aspects of your life to strangers – access to your home and to your wallet. The people you entrust with the task to spend your money wisely while changing your life for the better need to be suited for the job. Whom to reach out to depends on the scope of your project as well as the size of your budget.
Freshening up the house with a coat of paint – get recommendations for reliable painters from your social circle. Replacing a toilet or a faucet – call your trusted neighbourhood plumber. Plumbers, along with other regulated trades like electricians, gas fitters, and HVAC mechanics require appropriate certification to practice legally in our province. A licensed tradesperson will also take out the necessary permits.
For the many small projects around the house, which require a combination of skills, research the name of a Jack or Jill-of-all-Trades. If you find such a capable handyperson, make sure they have the necessary licenses and insurances in place, which will protect you in the event their work results in damages to humans or property.
A more involved renovation necessitates the sequencing and scheduling of several trades and the supervision of their work – a requirement of both time and knowledge many homeowners cannot meet. This is where a renovation expert comes in. While Vancouver Island has a plethora of such usually small construction companies, be mindful that there is a difference between them and licensed residential builders on several levels.
If you are confident in your design decisions, you can collaborate directly with the renovator to achieve your goals. For a kitchen renovation that does not require major changes to the layout, you might want to approach one of the local cabinet stores, which offer design services along with the supply and installation of their millwork.
If you need additional input regarding improved illumination, a coherent selection of finishes including flooring, countertops and backsplash tile, new casing and trim, decorative window treatments and a colour scheme, the cost for a consultation with an Interior Decorator or Designer is warranted. As with any creative consultant, check out their website or Houzz portfolio to get a sense for their esthetic, and book time for an initial conversation to get a feel for the designer’s personality. Larger construction companies often offer in-house interior design services. This one-stop-shop is very convenient for the client but can also be somewhat limiting.
In case you want to improve the existing layout of your home by removing interior walls and changing the location of doors or the size of your windows, or if you consider an addition to your home, you will have to involve either an Interior Designer with training in this field, an architectural designer who also understands the intricacies of interior design, employ the services of an architectural firm, or bring together a team of individual specialists.
A kitchen is a workshop that combines functionality with visual flair and as such is typically the most complex room in your home. When preparing the required permit and construction documentation, the designer has to configure the work zones with the daily routine of the family in mind, design millwork details while considering appliance specifications, plan a functional and pleasing lighting concept, update the electrical layout, all while adhering to the building code and local bylaws. In case of an addition, attention to the exterior appearance of the home is required, and other consultants like surveyors and structural engineers have to be involved.
A project of such scale must be coordinated by a licensed Residential Builder, who has knowledge of Building Envelope Renovation Regulations and arranges for the necessary warranty. These professionals are required to stay on top of the continuous amendments to the BC Building Code and our local bylaws, which vary from municipality to municipality. You can research reputable companies through the CHBA-VI and the Victoria Residential Builders Association.
If you are in doubt what the best approach for your home is, it would be worth while to book an on-site consultation with a design professional whose portfolio you appreciate, to discuss your options and develop a plan of action.
Ines Hanl is the Principal of The Sky Is The Limit Interior Design Concepts, a well-known boutique design firm that conceptualizes designs for all aspects of residential and commercial interiors.