Monday, November 10, 2008

Flywheel - Design - Start with a Goal and a List – Ken Kunka

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." ~ Lao-tzu

When planning your renovation, accessory building or dream home it is important to set goals and priorities. Start first with making the decision to remodel or build. That is the difference between a wish (dream) and a goal. A decision is required to start and has a deadline. A wish is transformed into a goal when you simply glue a date onto it. A goal has a date associated with it, and in order to make it happen by that date you have to do certain things -- in a certain order. So you develop a plan to get you from here to there, and each step has certain things that need to be done to complete it. So whether you want to build or create a working set of drawings for prices – set some goals.

Setting goals that you can look to will help fine tune your design and get you through the rough spots during the building process. Engage the entire family and have all members agree on this objective so that you can make it fun. There is nothing more disheartening than seeing couples argue during the design/ build process because they have not agreed on why they are actually building or renovating. This is what we call the “divorce dust” syndrome. Write at least three main goals down – what do you want to accomplish.

Next list all the things that you would like to have – your dream list. I personally have a library of magazines, books and articles that I have collected to help me develop my dream house and to assist others. Start a collection of articles, sketches, and photo’s and store them in your dream book. If you can, I would strongly suggest going to the Lower mainland and areas like West Vancouver and find what style and trends turn you on. When creating your dream list, think of homes that you have been in as a child, while on vacation or at friend’s homes. Don’t think about budget or how it will be built. Have all the family members create their own lists and then consolidate them. Slow down and make sure you have written everything down.

You may also want to compile a “never in my lifetime” list of things you could never have in your house. If you are renovating then you may also want to create a list of the things that are not working for you such as space or problems with the lighting, structure or plumbing etc.

Once you have created your dream list, go through it and sort the items that are musts, wants and pipe dreams. Brainstorm together and take a collective approach and learn to understand each family members desires. You will likely find that a lot of the items can be combined or may not be that important after all. Ranking them may also benefit you when trying to work out a budget. Take all the must items and ensure they will help you reach your goal(s). Expand every must in further detail, this is working towards your reality list which can be compared with the “never” or not working lists.

Having a clear vision of what you want and the specifics will greatly assist you in reviewing stock plans or communicating with your designer and or builder. A good designer or architect can help up refine your vision and find economical solutions to achieve your goals. They should be able to channel your ideas not design what they want, which can happen if you are not prepared. You could move into your house and find it’s not at all what you had in mind.

So remember:
1. Decide to start and set some goals.
2. Develop your objective and work as a team.
3. Create your dream list and book.
4. Create a never and or not working list.
5. Compare and refine these lists and confirm they will achieve your goal(s)

If you require assistance in setting your goals and building your list please contact us at or 250 859 6062.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Flywheel - Okanagan - Not so big house - Sarah Susanka

Last weekend my wife and I decided that we would go check out some of the open houses in Westbank prior to taking the kids to the beach. Our first stop had two homes side by side backing onto a golf course. What caught my attention after the asking price of over $1.3 million! was the size of the homes + 3800 sq ft. I started thinking of the writings of American Architect Sarah Susanka's series of books "The Not So Big House". The average Canadian family is getting smaller and in the Okanagan there is large number of Baby Boomers downsizing as they move to the valley. So why build a big house, especially when you have to clean, heat and cool it. You can see others may be thinking the same with the glut of homes in the 3/4 quarter to one million dollar range.

Sarah educates the reader in the importance of hiring professionals who are trained in looking at the details that make a house a home. She also states that why not build smaller but put that money back into the finishes and truly build a masterpiece set apart from the large stock homes out there. Her design principles lead naturally to building towards sustainability and use of natural products for a healthier home.

If you are thinking of building new or renovating then I strongly suggest reading one or more of her books.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ken Kunka - Proper design or proper planning

Proper design or proper planning is the key to any successful home building or renovation project. A few extra hours or days spent on the planning side will save you days or months in the construction phase. After getting a general understanding of the regulations of building it is important to understand your ultimate goal - why am I really doing this? Are you renovating to flip or are you thinking long term, maybe even your dream house. Knowing your "why" will get you through the tough times - and there will be tough times no matter what.

When thinking about design you should be thinking about four key elements:

1. Function

Understanding your ultimate purpose of your building project. Is this a long term goal or a quick update and flip? Will this project benefit you financially? Are there different ways to achieve the end result. Should you hire a professional to flesh out your ideas and needs.

2. Form

Mass and shape define form. Mass refers to the volume defined by a structure relative to its surroundings. Mass can be controlled by your surroundings, cost and local regulations. Shape is the composition and complexity of the surface planes. Shape can be controlled by cost and the materials proposed.
3. Materials

Both exterior and interior building materials should be selected based on upon their appropriateness for the building type, durability, impact on the environment, climatic conditions, code, cost, availability and the prevailing design and character of the installation.

4. Cost

Establishing a budget and securing proper financing. Knowing who to hire and what type of contracts. Understanding hidden expenses. Establishing a time line.

When to get help?

If you have been collecting articles and magazines but don't know how to put those ideas on paper or if you know little about construction, then seek out the help of a professional designer. If you have problems visualizing 3D form 2D drawings then seek the help of a professional. It is easier and cheaper to change your mind on paper then half way through your building project. Depending on the scale the project you could hire a student designer, draftsperson, contractor or an architect or interior designer. Keep in mind that you may also require the assistance of engineers or specialists depending on your local permit requirements or complexity of project. As a suggestion - if you are thinking of spending over $50,000 on a renovation then hire an engineer and unless your building a simple box home then always retain the services of an engineer. Most building departments have reduced building permit fees when a engineer(s) is on board.

Four other key notes to remember to designing

Investigate, Educate, Communicate and Coordinate.