30 Tips for a Successful Construction Project

Hiring the Right Project Team:

(1) Experience Matters.
Make sure that the professionals you hire to be on your Project Team are experts in their field and understand the implications of your project – ie. what approvals and permits your project will require, what technical challenges it will present, and how budget constraints will shape it. Ask who within the organization will be working on your project. As you interview prospective members of your team, it’s completely fair game to ask if the principals will be doing the actual work, or passing it off. Don’t settle!

(2) Don’t Focus on Price – Hiring the Right Project Team is About ROI.
In the same way that it makes no sense to hire a Doctor or Lawyer based on fees rather than on the quality or effectiveness of services, making a similar decision when hiring members of your project team is a mistake that will cost you money down the road. Consider the process of hiring your team members as a critical investment in your project – not an expense.

(3) Details Make the Difference.
Always look at the level of detail in the Architects’ construction documents, and discuss the builders’ bid process. The best assurance you have of receiving truly competitive estimates and avoiding unforeseen costs on troubleshooting and change orders during construction is for the Architect to properly detail the plans and specifications, and for the builders to closely follow the Architect’s instructions while preparing their bids,

(4) Personality Also Matters.
The relationship that you will have with your team members will be a fairly intimate one, especially if your project is related to your home. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the personality and communication style of the candidates before you hire you team. Call references and ask how the process went for them.

The Right Design For Your Comfort and Enjoyment:

(5) Clear Communication is Key.
Once you’ve hired your team members, it’s very important that you clearly communicate to them your concerns, goals, and expectations for the Project. The more information you give them, the more effectively they will be able to come up with the best solution for you. And don’t be afraid to say if you don’t like certain aspects of the design – your team will come up with different options; at the end of the day, what’s important is that you are 100% happy with the outcome.

(6) The Project Design Should Fit Your Lifestyle.
What do you want your project to say about you? Are you looking for something that’s quietly elegant or fun and flashy; Traditional and sober; or modern and playful? What rooms do you need? What kind of spaces do you like? Make sure to discuss in detail the desired look and feel of the project to your team, and to ask as many questions as you need to understand the design.

(7) Spatial Flow and Proportion
Beyond colors and textures, a comfortable, easy flow from one space to another, and proper room proportions are essential to a pleasurable experience inside of a building, whether it is residential or commercial. Make a point to understand the room adjacencies, proportions of size to height, layouts (door, window & fireplace locations, etc.) to make sure the spaces will work for you and be easy to live in.

(8) Acoustics and Sound.
Acoustic quality is also critical in the experience of space. Rooms that are too tall and cavernous, finished with hard materials, or not properly insulated will create loud reverberating sound that can be disconcerting and tiring. Discuss with your team all the elements that will affect acoustic quality – room geometries, proportions, and finishes; heating and ac design; floor assembly attachments; and extent of sound attenuation insulation in walls, floors, and around pipes – to ensure comfortable noise levels throughout the building. And of course, consider an integrated sound system to create a killer mood!

(9) Thermal Comfort and Energy Efficiency.
From high quality windows and doors, deeper wall framing members, high r-value insulation, efficient roof assemblies, and radiant heating (if the budget allows for it), your project should be outfitted with materials and systems that maximize energy efficiency, minimize heat loss, reduce cooling loads, and enhance the thermal comfort throughout while saving you money in the process.

(10) Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Good Lighting.
Appropriate illumination and the right mix of natural and man-made lighting are essential for the enjoyment of space. Bright lights can energize, promote a feeling of excitement, and enhance workflow. Soft lights will set a calm, cozy mood. On the other hand, gloomy, inadequate lighting can make a space feel dark and oppressive. So it’s crucial to select lighting in the lumens (intensities) and temperatures (color) that fit the intended activity in each area in your home or building, to mix the light sources / directions – ie. recessed & suspended ceiling lighting, wall sconces, floor and table lamps, task & cove lighting – and to have as many windows as possible to bring in natural light.

Create a Great Kitchen:

(11) Understand How You Work.
Tell your team where you like things – from spices, pots, utensils, storage containers & lunchboxes, to which side of the sink you prefer the dishwasher – and what a comfortable workflow looks and feels like for you. Let that guide the layout and design.

(12) The Kitchen is The Heart of The Home.
More time is spent in the Kitchen than probably in any other room in the home, and everyone ends up hanging out there – be it helping or observing. To avoid those Kitchen visitors getting in your way, consider allocating extra space to accommodate friends and family comfortably.

(13) Maximize Storage.
Amenities such as a Walk-In Pantry Closet, tall pantry cabinets, and small appliance storage are a must. Having enough storage space to keep things put away eliminates clutter, enhances the utility and work flow, and bolsters the overall aesthetic of the Kitchen.

(14) When it Comes to Appliances Don’t Get Married to Name Brands.
Particularly if you’re looking to maximize your budget consider brands that deliver comparable quality, with similar aesthetics, at a lower cost than the more “popular” ones.

(15) Consider Practicality.
When selecting materials for your cabinets, countertops and backsplashes, be diligent to discuss maintenance and durability with your team, to ensure that your selections match your lifestyle and personality.

(16) Your Cabinet Hardware.
Do you like knobs, pulls, cups, or a combination? What size should they be proportionately to the cabinet doors and drawers? Besides aesthetic questions, think of utility and feel, select ones that are comfortable in your hand, and avoid those that can get snagged on your clothes!

Comfort in the Bathroom:

(17) Privacy is Preferable.
If you like your privacy – or even if you are not shy – and space allows it, insist that your water closet is tucked away in a separate compartment. Most people prefer this option so it adds value to your investment in your Bathroom.

(18) Install Radiant Flooring Whenever Possible.
If the budget permits, ask for in-floor radiant heating in your Bathrooms. It is a source of even, comfortable heat on your bare feet and enhances the bathroom experience.

(19) Remote Exhaust Fans Are Better.
Even the “quiet” rated exhaust fans are somewhat noisy, and usually unattractive. Whenever possible opt for a discreet ceiling inlet with remote exhaust fan for a sleeker aesthetic and a more desirable sound level.

(20) Be Practical About Your Fixtures.
There are almost endless options for bathroom fixtures. So make sure that your selections are based not just on aesthetics, but also on comfort and the utility that you want. Go to the showroom, climb into the tubs (shoes off first!), sit on the w.c.’s, consider what shower components will work for you, and make sure the faucets feel good in your hand and are easy to operate.

(21) Be Sensible About the Finish Materials.
As with the Kitchen, make sure that your finish materials selections match your character and lifestyle. If you don’t plan to “squeegee” that beautiful ultra-clear, frameless shower enclosure after showering every day, or if the etched spots in the marble are going to drive you crazy, you may want to consider other options.

The Basement:

(22) Natural Light Wherever Possible.
Ask your team to include as many windows in basement areas as possible to bring in natural light. These, together with a proper lighting plan will help to minimize the feeling of being underground. Also, consider an egress window for added safety and utility.

(23) Keep in Mind Humidity and Potential Water Infiltration.
Include a dehumidification system to keep the humidity level in your basement at bay. As well, select flooring, insulation and wall finish options that can stand up to wet conditions that may arise.

(24) If You Don’t Have a Sump Pump, Get One!
Homeowners’ Insurance rarely covers water damage from ground water flooding in the absence of a sump pump, but will cover water damage caused by flooding when an existing Sump Pump fails.

(26) Look for An Opportunity to Improve the Staircase.
Many older homes have steep stairways to the basement which are uncomfortable and can be hazardous. Ask your team if your project presents an opportunity to correct this with a more comfortable tread-to-riser ratio.

On the Exterior:

(27) Use Consistent, Cohesive Elements Throughout the Exterior Design.
Avoid “movie set facades” where only the front of the building has a flat brick or stone facing with different cladding around the sides and rear, creating a completely different aesthetic from the rest.

(28) Consider the Viability of Extending Eaves and Rakes.
Overhangs on the eaves and rakes enhance the aesthetics of the exterior with added depth and dimension, helping create great curb appeal, which results in increased value. These overhangs also protect the exterior finishes and offer shading to windows during the hot summer days.

(29) Add Exterior Elements Whenever Possible.
A Front Porch, Outdoor Kitchen, Fire Pit, Patio or Deck are excellent elements to consider – they embellish the outside of the building, create a more organic connection between exterior and interior, expand your living space, and generate added value to your project.

(30) Marry the Building to the Landscape.
Insist that your new building or addition be well proportioned to the site and “sit comfortably” on the topography. In addition, make sure that your team takes the time to come up with a landscaping plan that fits the aesthetic of the building. Aim for a good balance of hardscape, lawn, and plantings.

BONUS TIPS!

* Before Hiring an Architect, Ask About His / Her Involvement “Beyond the Plans.”
Your ideal hire is someone that pays meticulous attention to project details and deadlines, stays with you until the finish, and is your strongest advocate throughout the construction process.

* Be On Time With Your Selections.
Be diligent to make all your selections – plumbing fixtures, cabinetry, tile, stone, decorative lighting fixtures, etc. – in a timely fashion. This will ensure that all products will be at the site to meet the installation schedule, and will avoid unwarranted delays in the project.

* Understand That There Will Be Hiccups.
Unexpected things often happen along the way; don’t panic. In our 30 years, we’ve always found a viable solution to any problem we’ve encountered in a project, often with better results than originally expected. Stay in constant contact with the experienced project team that you’ve hired, and together you will find a creative solution!!