First, think ahead… well ahead


By Herb Lagois

As I write this, I am reflecting on how time flies. It seems the world we live in is becoming faster and faster paced (although it has been pointed out that age may have something to do with it…)

Thinking about how time flies by, I want to say how important it is to start planning your renovation or addition well in advance. Of course, “well in advance” is relative to the size and nature of the project; but if you are thinking of constructing this Spring, it may already be too late.

My number-one advice is to take your time and make informed decisions. Experience shows that rushing can cause regrets.

At the early stages of a project, design is critical. The design must meet your individual tastes and needs.  Even the selection process for an architect or designer can take time.

Once a designer is selected, ask: when can the design be started?  There are many different types of architects/designers from individual (one person) firms to multiple person firms to design-and-build companies, all offering value to our industry. The important thing is to find an experienced individual or firm that can work with you, understand your needs and communicate and visualize your dreams on paper — and ultimately translate your dreams to reality.

The  design process can take anywhere from one to three months – even more, depending on the complexity of the project and on applicable laws such as septic, flood plain restrictions, variances (amend setback restrictions etc.).

Before getting building permit approvals, other questions will need to be addressed:  How will the building be constructed?  Will it be conventional construction vs. ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms)? What is the mechanical system? Is an energy analysis required? Environmental considerations? Solar? Geothermal? Is structural engineering required? Truss and Floor System Design? Lot grading plans? Lot survey? Septic Design? etc.

Whether some of the questions are dealt with during the design phase or after, allocating sufficient time is important. Experienced professionals can help define requirements and schedules.

Additional to the design phase is the selection of finishes and pricing phase. I can’t stress enough the importance of selecting as much as possible prior to starting a project. Selections can affect budgets. It is important to understand costs prior to starting construction – not at the end of the project, when it is too late.

The renovator/builder should undertake “job showings” with relative trades to ensure as much as possible is considered before the project starts. What if the furnace requires replacing? It’s always better to know in advance, not during the project when instant decisions are expected.

Most important is creating a space that works for you, meets your needs and looks sharp.

As we navigate our fast paced world, taking time to make informed decisions: Priceless!


Herb Lagois is the owner of Lagois Drafting and Construction, Inc.