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Designing Transformations

Creating beautiful, seamless changes to existing homes by addition, deletion or alteration is challenging. Unlike with new homes, design decisions for transforming your home must always include a careful consideration of the consequences and costs of disrupting the existing structure when compared to the benefits of creating new spaces. This balancing must take place repeatedly throughout the design phase.

Adding to the design complexity of transformations is the common requirement that the home remain functional and reasonably comfortable during the construction phase. In fact this one requirement may shape the design solution more significantly than any other factor. Having extensive experience with construction and understanding structural systems is critical.

As with custom homes, I provide design assistance through simple overlay sketches or with more complete design drawings or by providing full architectural services, which include the preparation of design drawings, construction drawings and specifications and providing construction administration services.

Unlike new custom home architectural services however, I almost always bill hourly for design sketches and thereafter a fixed fee for the other basic services.

The overwhelming aesthetic consideration for transformations is that the new and old blend seamlessly and beautifully. Occasionally however, as with registered historic houses, a visual difference is desired between the old and the new, to avoid confusing and diluting the importance of the truly historic. However, successful additions to all existing structures are always sensitive to the scale, proportion and texture of the original.

Working together as a team is as important with transformations as it is with new custom homes. In fact, with many of these projects I will recommend that we ask a contractor join our team during the design phase to help us analyze the design’s full impact to your existing house.

Surprisingly, recycling an existing house with additions and alterations will often bring a level of satisfaction that is unmatched by creating a new custom home because it usually provides a “greener” and more cost effective way for you to stay in a place that you love and cherish… and now is more beautiful.