How We Do It - Design as Dialogue

  • During an initial meeting we listen to our client’s “needs and musts” and strive for a constructive exchange of ideas.
  • In a nutshell, we begin with a variety of ideas and narrow them down to establish what can be done. We consider functional and stylistic aspects of the design as well as construction budget and possible issues (e.g. difficult lot conditions).
  • We arrange a topographic survey of the property and use it as a basis for the design.
  • Next we work on the conceptual and schematic design – this is when our client is involved the most. Proposed design is discussed and changes are made when necessary.
  • Design development follows client’s approval of the schematic design.
  • We collaborate with structural and mechanical consultants and prepare detailed construction drawings for building permit application package.
  • We obtain other permits (e.g. conservation, tree removal, heritage, etc.) and clearances that are preconditions for building permit issuance.
  • When needed, we prepare drawings for minor variance application and represent clients at committee of adjustment hearings.
  • On some projects, we work with municipal departments to obtain site plan approval.
  • We also provide project management services during construction phase.
  • Keep in mind that additions are sometimes more complicated than working from scratch. Being prepared for unexpected situations, expenses and delays is essential.
  • Consider the value of expanding your home. Keeping that in mind, determine how large a house you really need.
  • Set a realistic budget depending on the size, complexity, and quality of your remodel. You need a clear picture of what you can achieve with your budget.  Make sure you add 20-30% for contingencies.
  • Decide which improvements are most important to you. Examine the potential payoff of the improvements. Long-term value should prevail over fashion trends.
  • Determine discretionary costs (for finishes, fixtures, etc.) during the design stage. They are usually higher than you think and could easily exceed the construction cost in your pursuit of design excellence.
  • Carry out the entire project from start to finish.  If you have to do it in phases, if possible, do what brings the highest return on investment first.