[Ask Michelle] Renovation Project Mistakes

What’s the Most Common Mistake People Make with Renovation Projects? 
Definitely not budgeting enough time and/or money. It always takes longer and cost more.
It’s best to start interviewing design professionals as soon as you are considering a project. Experienced design professionals and help you with determining the budget and time line. Even for a DIY project, paying for a consultation session with a professional can save you time and money.
When it comes to money, I suggest setting aside additional 5% – 10% of your project budget as the “emergency fund”. Almost always, “unforeseen circumstances” occur during the construction process. If it turns out the extra money was not used, it’s yours to keep!
For best results, you should allow a minimum of 2 – 3 months for planning and designing for a small project. Large projects require more time for designing. No matter how experience the designer is, each project is unique and require time for study and research. You also want to explore different options and make the educated decisions.

The ‘Flat Stanley’ Project

In spring of 2017, I agreed to help my niece in Northern California with her ‘Flat Stanley’ project. For two weeks, I was to take Stanley to visit various places in Southern California. It was an interesting experience. Below is a list of places we visited. Yes, I took the assignment seriously.
Thursday, 4/6/17
Arrival (Chatsworth)
Saturday, 4/8/17
9301 Tampa Avenue, Northridge, CA 91324
Sunday, 4/9/17
300 E. Martilija Street, Ojai, CA 93023
KNEAD Baking Company
469 E. Ojai Avenue, Ojai, CA 93023
Bart’s Bookstore (Ojai)
302 W. Martilija Street, Ojai, CA 93023

Waypoint Cafe at Camarillo Airport (Camarillo) http://www.thewaypointcafe.com/

740 Ventura Boulevard, Camarillo, CA
Gardens of the World (Thousand Oaks) http://www.gardensoftheworld.info/
2001 Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
Thursday, 4/13/17
Belwood Bakery Cafe (Northridge) http://www.belwoodbakerycafe.com/
8735 Tampa Avenue, Northridge, CA 91324
Saturday, 4/15/17
Downtown Los Angeles (Los Angeles)
Little Tokyo
Union Station
El Pueblo
Olvera Street
Millennium Biltmore Hotel
Jewelry District
Sunday, 4/16/17
California State University, Northridge (Northridge) https://www.csun.edu/
Thursday, 4/20/17

[Ask Michelle] I can’t Afford a Designer!

Designers are expensive. My project is small and I am planning to do part of work myself. My contractor said he had done many similar projects and would help me with selecting products materials.
The truth is you can’t afford not having a designer. Designers are more than having fancy styles and good taste and know how to shop. In order to be professional designers, one has invested years of hard work to gain knowledge, skills, and experience. A good designer guides you through options, organizes the information, and prevents mistakes. Without a designer, you are risking spending more money and time and settling for a less-satisfactory result. You should figure 10% – 15% of your budget for design. You don’t always need a full-service package. Even small projects can use design input. If you can’t afford hiring a designer, you can’t afford the project.
Contractors are not designers. They may be design enthusiasts like yourself, but there is a reason they didn’t choose to work as designers. (Some firms do offer design and build services. In such case, you should check their qualifications for designing and building.) On the other hand, ask questions if a designers offers to act as a general contractor.

[Survey] Help Designers Improve

I often wonder, as a designer, if I am offering what people want/need. I am certain there are many things I can improve or change but people are not telling me. I can easily find reasons why people should hire designers. But I can’t find why people prefer not to work with designers.

What if residential designers can learn what homeowners, industry partners and contractors want? Sure this won’t bring world peace. But it will minimize unnecessary frustrations of all parties involved in a design project. We will make the profession better. Please help and fill out the survey to share your opinions. You have the option to be anonymous. After I have collected enough responses and organized them, I will share the results in a blog article. Please share this SURVEY with those who may be interested in contributing.

Thank you in advance for helping out!

CAD Myths Clarified

Being a formally educated designer and having been providing architectural/construction drafting services to design professionals for over a decade, I find most people, even professionals in the industry, are not clear about CAD (Computer Aided Drafting).
CAD is the way to design.
CAD is a production and communication tool, not a design tool.
CAD is faster.
CAD does produce clean and accurate documents and can be efficient in revisions. But the quality depends on the person using the program.
Manual Drafting and Sketching are outdated.
Manual drafting and sketching are activities directly connected to our brains. Studies show students taking notes by hand in class generally do better compared to students taking notes with their laptops.
In general, people don’t respect the profession of CAD drafting. Even drafters don’t have pride in this line of work. Good CAD drafters are not just computer program operators. They are an essential part of every successful projects. A drafter, CAD or manual, must understand design and construction and how things ae made.
After getting my B.A. in Art with emphasis in interior design and a few year of work experience, I spent 2 semesters (30 hours per week for 40 weeks) to complete the CAD certification program. With the skilled I learned, I was able to work with architects and designers on high-end projects and gain experience. I have invested a lot of time and effort. I get asked often, but I really don’t know how to learn CAD in a short time.
CAD programs does offer many advantages. BIM (Building Information Modeling) and other 3D programs enable us to study the design closely and communicate effectively with the entire team. But what we have neglected is continue to strengthen our fundamental skills such as simply using pencil and paper.