When Design and Construction Don’t See Eye-to-Eye

The Compromise

Design and construction. Two of the most important elements during a renovation. But what happens when they don’t see eye-to-eye?

Translating drawings in a renovation and addition isn’t a perfect science. 

In new houses, you can usually build what the drawings dictate because you’re starting from scratch. It’s only with additions and renovations that you’re not always able to follow the drawings to a T. 

An architect may assume that the floor joints are a certain depth and they end up being a different depth, so they may not be as structurally sound, or you might demo the ceiling, then realise that the joints themselves are compromised because they’ve had plumbing running through them over the years, so you’ve got to add more structural integrity. 

New house? Old house? The age of the house dictates how closely the drawings are followed

Don’t take on a big project unless you accept the fact that there may be other issues: 

It’s very hard to connect new plastic (PVC) plumbing to lead drains of old houses. If you want to open up a wall in a bathroom reno, and you find lead feeds for draining water, the budget changes. We don’t know until we open up the walls.

What does the electrical look like? What’s the plumbing like? What’s the framing and structural integrity of the place?

Going from drawings to construction doesn’t always mesh. 

In an old house, as soon as you start opening up the walls to deal with electrical, you can come across knob-and-tube, which is an electrical system, which isn’t acceptable. A lot of houses in Toronto still have knob-and-tube, so the whole house has to be re-wired, which may not have been in the original renovation plan.

Your bathroom layout may not work the way you planned. You wanted a separate tub and shower, but you can’t fit both. Reconfigure the design.

I give my clients options based on issues. If the drawings don’t show bulkheads, and during the build, you see bulkheads, you turn them into features, like a ceiling detail, with pinpoint lighting. Reconfiguring design to be consistent with construction is part of the process. 

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