Learn from the Design Pros – De-mystifying the Construction Process

7 Min.

The construction process can feel like a maze. Holly shares her tips on how to navigate this process and stay sane during it.

headshotHolly Gagne is an Interior Designer based on the North Shore in Rowley, MA. She has been running an independent interior design business for 10 years with a focus on residential & small commercial projects. Her portfolio includes many Jewett Farms kitchens and anything from small styling projects to large-scale new construction. Holly and her team provide unique expertise in developing mood boards & design drawings that capture the space, materials, furnishings, fixtures and any related design elements that will give visual clarity to the clients prior to sourcing items and beginning construction; making them an integral part of the planning process.

Holly discussed the process of demolishing and re-creating what is arguably the most important space in your home, and how stressful that can be. Contractors in your personal space, a constant stream of bills to pay, a home in disarray. There may be unknowns/you may be faced with unexpected challenges during permitting, inspection and construction. Holly laid out some simple steps to help this process be as smooth as possible.

Give yourself time to plan.

Unless you are giving your designer-contractor cart blanch to pick everything, there will be a whole lot of decisions that you need to make. Although you may have professional help and support, the ultimate decision-maker must be you. Work with the professionals to understand the project timeline and what decisions you will need to make, and when, to keep the project on track.

Think seasonal.

Pick a time of year that will present the least amount of challenges for you to be without a kitchen. Some people select the summer so they can open windows and grill outside, for example. Or times during the year when they go on longer vacations or can move in with others.

Be choosy when picking your team. 

Give yourself time to select the professionals you want to work with. GCs, designers, architects, etc. The good ones are not going to be available tomorrow. At the conception of a project start this part of the process and plan our project around their availability. Pick a contractor who communicates, with strength. Require a detailed project schedule from permitting through final installations. Make sure they provide a detailed contract that itemizes what is included in their contract and the pricing. One that will give you a heads up if they are going to need something decided or at the site with advance notice, not day of.

Two tools that are critical to ensuring a smooth design/selection/construction process:

1. A Complete drawing set that defines the design in detail, from the layout to appliances to fixtures to materials/finishes, cabinet hardware (and its placement on the cabinetry), etc. These drawings ultimately serve as your contract; if things are not installed as you planned then these are the tools to get them remedied most efficiently.

2. A binder that will hold all specification sheets for any item that will be installed so that all dimensions and details for the items are spelled out. This will alleviate pressure for questions that are apt to come up during installations.

Select and purchase early.

Once your design has been finalized you will know what’s needed and can start shopping. Ensure that everything is delivered to the job site at the start of the project, or as soon as possible thereafter. Do not let your selections hold up the construction process, and do not wait until stresses are high to have to make critical decisions (this also helps avoid irrational spending!).

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