Are you (and your home) ready for an open-concept renovation?
Here’s what you need to consider.
Our homes are our sanctuaries, especially now that many of us find ourselves both living and working from them. And while most of us love our humble abodes, we’ve had a lot of time to consider how to improve and adapt them to our current and future needs. One of the most common improvements if you’re not looking to add space, is to create better flow through open-concept renovations.
What do we mean by flow in open-concept designs?
Most houses built 30 years ago or more are sectioned off into separate rooms with doors or pass-throughs, that defined areas for specific purposes — dining rooms, living rooms, kitchens, etc. Room sizes were determined by the limitations of standard building products available at the time. Houses were for the functional purposes of sleeping, cooking, bathing; and most people lived their lives outside of their homes.
An individual purpose for each room may have made sense in the past, but today, most of us find ourselves longing for the connection and fluidity an open-concept main floor provides. Back in the day, preparing meals in a closed-off room, separated from the rest of the family, was how it was done. That is no longer appealing for most of us, especially while entertaining, as we want to connect with our guests and families, which is what an open-concept main floor promotes.
Structural and financial considerations for open-concept remodels
Open-concept spaces have become popular in part, due to new construction materials and techniques that can span longer distances while still safely supporting the structure above. While the concept itself seems simple, the process of removing walls on the main floor is quite complicated and potentially dangerous if done incorrectly. An open-concept space has structural components that will affect all of the other systems in your home, so a building permit; and a team to plan construction from a technical standpoint are essential. While that seems (and is) complicated, the process can be simplified when you bring in a team experienced with structural renovations to help you.
Most construction managers have working relationships with architects, designers, and engineers so assembling your open-concept renovation team can be quick and easy with the right construction manager. While some of this may seem daunting, improving the flow of your main floor is well worth the effort in the long run. So, what exactly needs to happen to turn a choppy main floor into a flowing open-concept main floor?
First, bring in your construction manager when dreaming up plans for the new space, to assess the feasibility of the renovation before proceeding too far with design work. Most are qualified to inspect the foundation and structure to see what would need to happen to remove the interior walls and open up your main floor space. You don’t want to get too far into planning, only to find out that your 100-year-old house does not have an adequate foundation to withstand the changes of load distribution that removal of walls creates. This is also a good time to discuss what a project of this scale would cost including design, permits, engineer services, structural construction, mechanical systems, interior finishing, and alternate accommodation if living in is not possible during the build.
Plans and permits for open-concept main floor redesigns
Once it’s determined your house is a good candidate for this type of renovation, it’s time to start designing the layout, structure, and construction plan. This is where you start envisioning your new space with the help of a professional designer who can sketch out your thoughts and help you focus on and refine the finishing details. Once the design is complete, you and your team will need to apply for permits. Keep in mind, obtaining permits these days may be a lengthier process due to COVID-19 closures and restrictions. Obtaining a permit in Toronto could easily take 6-12 months, however, project planning can continue while you wait. Finishing decisions, shopping for appliances, fixtures, and flooring and more can continue while acquiring the permit.
With a permit in hand, the construction of the new layout can legally and safely begin. Demolition of interior finishes and mechanical systems will expose the existing structure and confirm if the preliminary assumptions were correct, and may reveal circumstances that require modification to the construction plan. Prior to the removal of the load-bearing structure, temporary shoring and bracing will be installed to keep the existing structure in place. Footings in the basement are often required and must be in place before removing existing walls, beams, or columns. By this point in the process, structural steel would have been fabricated and delivered to the site with the permit-approved, engineered lumber required to construct the modified structure. Once the old structure is removed, you will start to get a sense of how the open-concept space will feel without walls. When the new structure is in place it will need to be inspected by the city before moving on to the next phase of construction.
HVAC, plumbing, and electrical in your open-concept main floor
With the structural work in place, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical work can be installed. New ductwork and plumbing require floor and ceiling space that can restrict some areas of the open plan but, there is discretion for positioning that can be worked into the finished space. After the services have been placed and bulkhead construction is completed, electrical, lighting, smart home installations, and insulation are installed in the wall cavities. Several inspections would have taken place by this point in construction, so the walls would now be ready for drywall, a huge project milestone that defines the space and finally reveals how the finished space will flow.
Open-concept reno — the final touches
With structure, mechanical services, and drywall in place there is still a lot of work to complete, but the pace of construction tends to increase. Every finishing decision you laboured over; windows, trim, carpentry, tile, flooring, and cabinets start to reveal the look you’ve been imagining, getting you closer to turning your dream into reality. As your new home begins to show itself, the hard work and stress turn into excitement and joy, giving you that extra burst of energy to complete the remaining finishing touches of your open-concept home.
Making improvements to our homes, our sanctuaries, to add value to our everyday day lives is well worth the effort. And in these times when we find ourselves craving connection, there is no better way to find it than at home with the people we love most, our family. This stressful, once-in-a-generation situation, will not last forever. When it finally ends, our homes will once again be filled with loved ones and friends all congregating on the open-concept main floor, staying connected wherever they choose to mingle in your new and improved home.
Call us today to get started on your open-concept main floor!
Love your home again
Dan is happy to meet with you, listen to your ideas and provide you with a free site quotation no matter where you are in the renovation decision process. No charge…with no pressure, no obligation and no strings attached. We promise. We simply want you to have all the information you need to make the best decisions related to your Toronto home renovation or addition.
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Considering a home renovation or addition?
Whether you want more space for your growing family, or crave a space that reflects your vision better, Dan Robinson is here to help transform your dream into a reality.
Regardless of where you are in the process, contact us, and we’ll call to arrange a no-obligation consultation at your convenience. We will come to your home, discuss your vision and begin the process of helping you love your home again.