Brooke Moorehead blog post Construction featured image


Construction is happening everywhere in NYC (and has been for some time now). It seems that I cannot cross the street without seeing a new building going up to my right or to my left. If not purchasing something brand new, many New Yorkers seem to be in the mood to renovate.

At the job site of my own apartment in 2010. 

If you are thinking about doing a renovation, it’s good to keep a few things in mind.

Testing floor finishes on a herringbone floor on the Upper East Side.
(c) Brooke Moorhead Design

1) “The Triangle.” There exists an inherent triangle in the construction paradigm with three points: quality, cost, and time. As a rule, you can only have two out of three. Decide what your priorities are and use that knowledge to help you develop realistic expectations.

2) Design first, build second. Without being so fanatical about planning that you never actually start, I suggest that you get all of your ducks in a row before you begin construction. It saves time and money and gives you the opportunity to create a more unified, cohesive design.

A few suggestions on how to do this: Hire your architect and designer first to help you decide your priorities and build out your program on paper. Professionals have the expertise to be able to advise on your design, anticipate problems, and can help you devise the best strategy for your space. The valuable experience professionals bring to the table can help aid you with items outside the aesthetic realm, also, such as vendor hiring, budget, schedule, and important unforeseen logistical challenges.

Once decisions are made and plans are drawn, a contractor’s bid will be much more accurate. The contractor will also be able to build faster, more accurately and more cost-efficiently if he has drawings in hand from the get-go, because he will not be waiting for decisions or have to make changes as he builds.

3) Expect it to cost twice as much and take twice as long. (Yikes!). Everyone wants to think that things will take less time, but they rarely do. Everyone also wants to think that they can get it done for less. They rarely can. I find that it is better to have realistic expectations than to be disappointed later.

Mid-way through the process of installing an antique fireplace in a pre-war duplex this fall. 
(c) Brooke Moorhead Design

4) The end of the job. The end is always the most stressful. The punch list is the most tedious part of the job, and things inherently take a long time to fix or fine-tune. Try to keep it together mentally and know that once it is finished you will be in love with your new space.

Building and renovation can be an incredibly exciting process with an incredibly rewarding result. Just remember that whatever the project you decide to take on, it will demand a lot of you. There are always a lot of decisions to be made and a lot of time and effort needed to finalize the decisions and to work out the details. Not to mention that labor and materials are expensive, especially if they are good quality. This can all be stressful in more ways than one.

Given all of this, it can be a lot of fun as long as you are armed with the right knowledge from the start. Happy building.

In good design,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.