Plan Your Residence Remodel: The Design and Drawing Phase

In the first part of our series relating to this Florida ranch home renovation, we found the way Mike and Leann Rowe discovered a 1970s home with great bones and built a team to help them turn it into their dream home on the water. In this event, we’ll follow the design and drawing portion of the project.

In a project in this way, design and construction are intertwined. The team assembled by Mike and Leann included me as the architect, builder John Prahl and Jimmy Temple of Canco General Contractors. Collectively, John, Jimmy and I will help the Rowes evaluate design options and keep the project on track. This team approach should save Mike and Leann time, money and aggravation as most of us have input into developing the design and drawings.

Here are the first steps we are taking to find the drawings below way.

Watch Part 1 of this Renovation Diary

AIA, Bud Dietrich

1. Create a budget and a wish list. The first step in any endeavor is to establish exactly what you want, what you want and exactly what you can afford. So developing a budget and a wish list — something builders call a “program” — is equally vital.

That is exactly what Mike and Leann’s new home looks like now. They want three bedrooms (one of which is a home office/guest space) and at least 2 full bathrooms. They both like to cook so they will require a kitchen large enough for the both of them. And they want the kitchen open into the views and situated in the center of the home.

Phil Kean Designs

2. Define your story. In addition to the practical necessities and functional needs, your home should tell your story. So when starting out to the design, it’s important to define what that story is.

This photo of some other home provides an idea of exactly what Mike and Leann are searching for. For them, the story is about having immediate access to the gulf waters (Mike and Leann are enthusiastic boaters) and observing the casual, inside-outside Florida lifestyle. Big openings with walls of glass which may be pushed out of the way are essential. But because this is Florida, a means to keep out flying insects is also essential. Something clever, like these retractable screens that fill in massive openings, is what we’ll be opting for.

Olga Adler

3. Find inspiration. While not long ago you needed to purchase those magazines, tear out the a couple of pictures that inspired you and then toss away the magazine, now you can simply browse and save inspirational pictures in an ideabook. And while before you needed to keep all those bits of paper in a folder someplace (“Which are those clippings? I know they are around here someplace“), now you can e-mail a URL to a photo or collection of photos to your architect.

That brings us to the wonderful ceiling. Mike and Leann would enjoy a tall, vaulted ceiling. While browsing , Leann came across this picture and sent me the link. She loves the feeling of space the ceiling generates and the painted wood finish. So if the budget (there is that pesky financial issue again) and other issues allow, we’ll develop a ceiling very similar to this one.

Bud Dietrich, AIA

4. Research the codes, ordinances and regulations. From earthquake immunity in California to impact immunity in coastal Florida, just about every city, village and city has a particular and unique set of construction codes, ordinances and regulations which any project is going to need to comply with.

Though all of these principles will occasionally make us desire to moan and whine, they exist to protect life and property. Remember the May 2008 earthquake in China that toppled many buildings, such as schools, that price many individuals, including children, their lives? This was a disaster that would have been avoidable with the occurrence of better construction codes rigorously enforced. So let us remember this earthquake and its disastrous results every time we want to whine about “onerous” construction codes and regulations.

Since our project is situated in coastal Florida, we are going to have to mitigate the effects of hurricanes. Above all, we are going to need to ensure our brand new windows and doors meet or surpass the appropriate design pressure (DP) rating (a variable of wind speed, size and place). And there are strict regulations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) who will most likely need to be taken care of.

All this won’t be easy or inexpensive, but the resulting safer construction will be well worth it.

Bud Dietrich, AIA

5. Document what is. Whether building new or renovating an existing structure, a thorough understanding of the existing requirements is essential. After all, it’s not like we begin with a completely blank slate. There are existing walls, roofs, windows and structures, as well as site features like solar orientation, sight lines and landscape features. Getting a handle on all this and making sure we understand the site and our current structure will help us as we navigate the design of a home which Mike and Leann will cherish for a lifetime.

Two tasks most frequently utilized to record the current conditions: 1). Taking a great deal of photos, and two) carefully measuring each wall, ceiling height, door opening, window location, electric device place and so on. All this information is then placed into a computer-aided design (CAD) document as a baseline from which we develop our design.

Bud Dietrich, AIA

6. Grow some basic sketches. My favorite question to ask as we brainstorm design ideas is “What should we … ?” With Mike and Leann, we explored how best to organize the interior spaces to match their needs. Each time we had develop an idea, we’d develop a 3-D sketch (using Sketch Up, my favorite drawing program) so we could see the implications of this idea and weigh its pros and cons.

Because creating an open floor plan with a kitchen in its centre is a critical part in our endeavor, having sketches like this helps us envision that open plan. The sketch also lets us see how we can incorporate a large, wide opening in the rear of the home.

Importantly, sketches like these may be carried out quickly and relatively inexpensively. Let’s face it, moving walls onto a bit of paper is a great deal easier than shifting walls which have been constructed.

Bud Dietrich, AIA

7. Start Looking for possibilities. The plan of each project is the process of finding the inherent possibilities of the site and existing structure while considering your needs, wants and budget. So architects like to ask questions like “What does it want to be?”

With all the intercoastal waterway and bridge to the mainland forming the background, Mike’s and Leann’s new home wishes to become open to the view out into the water and the bridge and up into the sky.

The brand new home wants all the blue sky and blue water to infuse the inside with light and space. So we’ll consider raising the ceiling to get views up and out and make that major opening to catch perspectives of the water and across the waterway into the bridge and the mainland.

Bud Dietrich, AIA

8. Record the choices. During the process of designing the project, Mike and Leann have made a whole bunch of choices: space dimensions, furniture placement, floor finishes, light areas and much more. The way the final project will look, feel and function is going to get listed on the building drawings. These construction drawings will then be used to convey our decisions to the St. Pete Beach construction official as well regarding the builder and all the other contractors and suppliers who will work on the project. Obviously, the further choices made, the more complete the drawings will be all of that is going to lead to better communication which will save time, money and aggravation as the project gets built.

Next: Securing the permit and starting demolition

How to See a Floor Plan
8 Ways to Follow Your Budget
Remodeling Guides

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