It’s more than “remodeling”

Remarkable transformation from puzzle solving

For many of us, remodeling an existing residence may be the best path to a home tailored to your family’s needs. But remodeling is not for everyone.

Homeowners face several obstacles to success:
-Remodeling is often more stressful than building new.
-Living in your home while remodeling can be very disruptive to family routines, privacy, and comfort.
-Moving out during the work can be expensive and disruptive in its own way.

One proven way to manage and mitigate these obstacles is finding and selecting the right remodeling professionals for you.

The statement that remodeling is not for everyone applies to architects and contractors too. The success of a remodeling project will hinge upon getting the critical choice for these key project team leaders right.

Remodeling is fraught with risk and unexpected surprises (both pleasant and unwanted varieties). Some architects view this as a stimulating challenge, while others consider the whole enterprise unpleasant — something to be avoided. Asking design and contractor candidates why they chose to work in this more difficult segment of the market can reveal important information that a homeowner can use to evaluate who can best help them.

Their answers will reveal much about how they approach the problems you’ll confront in remodeling and what compels them to continue. Having an enthusiastic partner, motivated by the right reasons, will benefit your project greatly. The key is to listen for your prospective architect, contractor or other professional to express an attraction to some variation of these three aspects of your remodeling project.

1. Remarkable transformations
Some architects revel in manifesting a transformative solution that to others had lain utterly hidden from view. Performing this metamorphosis can seem almost like wizardry! The opportunity to dramatically transform a home that suffers from esthetic and/or functional defects into a beautiful, livable refuge, tailor made for your family, is one of the most rewarding things an architect or contractor can do for a client. The more suboptimal the original home is (provided it has “good bones”) the greater the potential for the architectural transformation to startle and amaze clients and the community. Of course, your architect should not be so blinded by the quest for dramatic transformations that they overlook that a home can be so suboptimal that it doesn’t make sense to remodel.

2. Puzzle solving
Surprise! As the remodeling construction process begins, unknown conditions will be exposed that the contractor and architect must evaluate and determine appropriate solutions. The problems can be quite perplexing in some cases, requiring extraordinary creativity and ingenuity to overcome. Some architects and their contracting comrades find that unraveling and solving the succession of unique puzzles each remodel presents to be stimulating, fun and satisfying. To this select group, confronting these challenges together and emerging victorious is immensely gratifying.

3. Unique outcomes
All projects, new or remodel, have constraints. But in new construction there is far more latitude determining how the design will respond to them. Remodeling inescapably has more constraints, and less latitude within a greatly narrowed range of potential design solutions. An architect can find this stifling to their creativity if they aren’t open to accepting those added constraints as an opportunity to create something unique. Something they would never have otherwise considered designing. Ideally, the architect welcomes these added constraints because of the inherently unique and often novel design solutions that emerge from the process.

Discovering that your architect and contractor relish the remodeling process because of these three factors bodes well for a successful and enjoyable process and result — a home you can be proud of that is a pleasure to live in.

“The most important home in the world is yours. I relish the challenge of designing to that high ideal and the very personal journey that we’ll embark on together. I’ll carefully probe your requirements, wants, and needs and those aspects that separate your current and your preferred lifestyle. It is through this journey and the incorporation of these elements that will make the home become truly yours.” – Mark Elster

Mark Elster is a Principal of AOME Architects PS. One of the founders of AOME, later becoming a principal in 1992, Mark and his partners personally design and manage construction for their clients. Beyond core design, Mark specializes in construction administration, unique details, marketing for the company, and overall management (amongst many other duties).

Article by Mark Elster

Photography by Michael Jensen Photography | AOME

Originally published in Mercer Island City Lifestyle