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The Importance of Feasibility Study

What is a feasibility study?

When you go to a dentist, the first visit is a diagnostic exam. Its purpose is to determine the condition of your teeth and the treatments they might need. As a result, the doctor will then give you a quotation and description of the work.

Now, when it comes to building a house (or renovating it), people often make the mistake of jumping in and hiring a contractor or a designer without getting informed of the value the designer has to offer. In fact, many are quite unaware of having such an option, let alone how to conduct it. 

Before hiring an expert, you can do the preliminary study and get a detailed picture of your upcoming project. This is what we call the Low Consultation Commitment, or feasibility study. In a way, it’s no different than a diagnostic visit to the dentist. After you receive the report, you have a much better vision of what to expect and how to move forward. Consequently, you define the right direction for starting your journey.  

I have several clients who chose to do an LCC with me first, which helps them start the process adequately informed from the beginning. The information that we offer in the LCC provides all the necessary knowledge the client needs in order to take the following steps of their project with confidence and clarity.

Feasibility Study for Construction Project

Add a second story to the house
Coquitlam Home designer

Feasibility studies must be undertaken in the very early stage of a project. They are particularly needed when a project is large or complex, or there is some doubt or controversy involved regarding the proposed development. Feasibility studies also involve specific requirements, such as environmental impact assessments.

Feasibility Study’s Purpose

  • Determining the viability of the project
  • Identifying all feasible options.
  • Assisting in the project documentation development, including business case, strategic brief, or project execution plan.

Large projects usually require at least several different feasibility studies on various expertise. They commonly include: 

  • Allowable floor area
  • Environmental impact assessment 
  • Setbacks
  • Budget analysis
  • Assessment of the existing facilities and their utility
  • Height restrictions
  • Solutions to accessing potential sites
  • Servicing strategies
  • Options for improvement
  • …and other

The more structured is the presentation of assessments, the easier it will be for a prospective client to decide whether or not, or how, to proceed to the next stage. For that reason, the format should be comprehensive and accessible.
You can book your free 15 min. call with an expert here

Why is Feasibility Study Important

cafe design
cafe design

A proper architectural feasibility study will consider all of the proposed project’s aspects, and allow the clients to understand and test the viability of the project before undertaking any real major investment. In other words, it needs to answer the big questions in order to support the decision-making process.

Undertaking a feasibility study allows testing of the development idea in order to find the weak spots, sideways, and space for improvement. The study takes into consideration all factors that may be directly or indirectly associated with the project. In a way, it determines the proper focus direction for the development. 

An architectural feasibility study covers various aspects of the project with different approaches determined by development objectives. It starts with a detailed evaluation of the site’s suitability and a budget estimation based on quantifiable construction costs. Still, the final result comes from asking and answering all the big questions. For that reason, an architectural feasibility study is, more or less, a guarantee that a project is viable in most -or all- fields.

The Answers It Can Provide

  • The chance to have the planning permission granted
  • What to expect regarding the construction costs
  • What to expect regarding operational costs
  • Alternatives, and possible more economical options (renovation or new construction)
  • All the non-negotiable issues that may affect the project viability
  • The levels of risk involved in the investment
  • The expected deadline for the completion of the project
  • When is it likely to generate a profit, if any is expected
  • Parties, consultants, and engineers involved in the project and their timeline to present their services
  • The questions that come with securing necessary funding from banking institutions or availing of any grant aid available.
  • A road map that explains where to start and where to finish the project

Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the feasibility study can unveil a necessary financial reality check for investors. It answers the questions needed to avoid the dangerous traps, so the investors can withdraw before wasting money on projects that are not viable.

How to Conduct a Feasibility Study

Vancouver remodelling
Vancouver remodelling

Prior to making a feasibility study, we meet with the clients. Firstly, we learn about their needs and ideas through a discussion. Secondly, the next step is to visit the site for an initial assessment, followed by preliminary concepts. After we establish the proper base, we use it to explore the feasibility, analyze all costs, and complete all surveys, drawings, and accompanying reports. The preliminary design, which is a part of a feasibility study, will then have to be revisited in order to confirm that the project is economically viable and approved by the planning authority.

At the next step, the preliminary designs are typically presented to all relevant stakeholders for further cost estimations. 

What Should a Feasibility Study Determine

  • Cost-efficiency
  • Correctly recognizing and addressing all issues
  • All project objectives defined and tested
  • Building structure
  • Funding options
  • Set achievable targets
  • Risks evaluation
  • Alternatives (each party in a household are in the same boat, if not how can we find a common ground?)
  • Compromising, what and how much is the tolerance?
  • Conclusions and recommendations 

The Cost of a Feasibility Study

On average, a feasibility study cost ranges in the neighborhood of $1000 to $2000 (or more), depending on the project’s complexity. The final price entirely depends on your requirements and how detailed you want it to be. Each client is unique, and every project comes with its own set of considerations. Consequently, each feasibility study can be tailored to fit the cost requirements. 

Always have in mind that the feasibility study can prevent all costly mistakes that come from lack of proper information and impulse decisions. Therefore, investing in a reliable, comprehensive feasibility study is an investment to savings.

What you get in return is the clarity of your options and the value you will receive from your designer.

At MyHomeDesigner, we put at your disposal our extensive experience in conducting reliable architectural feasibility studies for various projects. We develop preliminary proposals and use them to define the key question and determine accurate, specific answers. Sharing the ideas and knowledge will help you navigate through the preparation process and get a clear picture of what precisely you are getting into. 

Start your self assessment here, and book your time with our designer here.

Renovation or Building a New House: Ernest Story

Ernest is a 61 year young who lives with his wife in a spacious house which, at the moment they come to our story, has long begun to show signs of ageing. Little by little, problems kept getting bigger, and the house needed a major repair. The question was, how to decide between renovation and building a new house.

One day, Ernest had decided to finally do something about it. He asked himself: Is it a good idea to repair the old house? How much a full renovation would cost? Is there a better solution? What would be more beneficial – renovation, or building something new?

Ernest realized that it would be best to investigate all options first. He started by asking neighbours and friends for opinions. Naturally, everyone had their own idea about what should be done.

The problem here is an utterly personal perspective. People have good intentions, but they can’t know what’s best for you, especially when it comes to your home. It’s all about different lifestyles, different habits, different needs. And when it comes to the matter of aging in place—different health. 

One idea started to make sense, though. Why spending a significant budget on a renovation if it’s possible to build a new house instead? But then again, could such an investment really pay off? 

What Ernest didn’t think of, at first, was consulting a design professional. He did make a call to the municipal hall in order to find out regulations that would help him decide. Mostly he was interested in how many square feet of a new house he could build.

New-Westminster-Renovation
New-Westminster-Renovation

Renovation or Building New, Ernest Couldn’t Decide

He discovered that it was possible to build a duplex house with two laneway houses, and two secondary suites on each side (ADU). This way, he could live on one side of the duplex and have a laneway house and the suites for renting. Naturally, a secondary suite sounded like a great way to secure some passive income for his retirement. Ernest realized that if he could also manage to sell the other side of the duplex, it would pay off the construction cost.

But as we are getting older, we start craving more quietness, peace, and privacy. Ernest understood that, very soon, he might come into a situation to regret the original idea. Having too many people roaming around his property sounded tiring by itself. Having the same but with a bunch of strangers on top…well, let’s say he cooled off the idea pretty fast. 

Yes, it would be great to have a new house, and even better if the project could pay itself off—but not at the cost of his privacy. After reviewing all options once more, it was clear that he and his family would do better if they build a duplex without any ADU’s.

Once again, Ernest picked up his phone and called several local builders for an interview. He thought it would help him choose which one to hire. Then was the moment to meet Aryo, whom he found by filling an online form.

The first question he asked Aryo was if he had any experience building duplexes in the area. Of course, the answer was positive.

“But, before we go further about my experience, let’s talk about your project and your goals.”

Master Bedroom
North Vancouver home design

Aryo Knew Better

After a long conversation, Aryo found out a lot of interesting facts. First of all, it turned out that Ernest did not really think his project through, not nearly enough. He failed to consider the age he was approaching and too many difficulties it will gradually bring. Moreover, he planned to build a tri-story duplex on each side, featuring less than 600 square feet on each floor.

Like many others, Ernest believed that living in a brand new, beautiful, and shiny house would be enough. The truth beyond, however, was different. Just any kind of new, shiny house wouldn’t bring the kind of happiness he imagined.

Aryo explained to Ernest why it’s good to have a proper, thoughtful plan. He elaborated on the significance of hiring a professional designer – and not just any. What he needed was a designer who takes into consideration the occupant’s lifestyle so that the final project would maximize personalized functionality. That way, the outcome would be much more beneficial for Ernest and his wife in the long-term. 

Such kind of consultation is rarely, if ever, offered by a builder. Not that the builders don’t care—on the contrary. But there’s a difference in knowledge and approach. A good builder knows how to build a sturdy, reliable, good quality house that the homeowner has ordered. But what if the homeowner doesn’t know what he wants, or what is good for him/her in the first place? Then a proper consultation can make all the difference between a disaster and a happy ending.

Maple ridge modern architect renovating or building a new home
Maple ridge modern architect

Renovation or Building New: Deciding Together

Aryo and Ernest talked for many hours. Their brainstorming paid off, and the plan slowly started to come up. Ernest was surprised to find out just how many small but significant details he was missing to consider. 

The idea of having to climb endless stairs, many times a day, suddenly exploded in all colors. Indeed, his original ideas were very fashionable, and those floating staircases could have been gorgeous. But now Ernest also realized that he would probably end up establishing a mini studio on the ground level in just a couple of years, merely to eliminate the need for endless climbing. 

Aryo knew that sooner than later, the couple would probably regret the decision. When your knees are hurting, and your muscles are weak, the last thing you want is a challenge in maintaining personal hygiene. There was no reason why Ernest’s wife should give up her dream of a fancy new tub. The thing was to have a proper one, as functional and approachable as striking in design. 

In the end, Ernest decided to build a house quite different from what he originally intended. But he was delighted to do so. The new project was smart, thoughtfully designed, and full of handy amenities that would add to the quality of their lives in fifteen years just as much as they do now. 

senior living
senior living

What Can a Professional Designer Do, That I Can Not?!

An outstanding design professional will compose the house that fits the homeowner’s lifestyle of today, as well as ten years or more in the future.

A designer who thinks outside the box doesn’t focus solely on what a client desires today. Many times, the homeowner is simply not aware of what lies ahead or even what would be best for him/her. Both renovation or building a new home can bring significant overall improvements if done correctly.

A good designer should really get to know his client. He will think about the homeowners’ present lifestyle as much as about all changes that will come to their life. Often, these changes involve newcomers (babies, in-laws) or a need for rental income, lifestyle improvement, even upgrading to catch up with new trends.

As homeowners, we often think that we are the only ones who know what is best for us and our houses. Some even believe that a professional designer is a redundant category, who will do the same as we would, but also charge for it. The truth, though, is somewhat different. 

You certainly know what your needs are….right now. Aging brings challenges that we might not be aware of until we face them, and that moment might not be the best time to do something about it. Thinking ahead is the key, but how to think ahead if we don’t know what will come? And if we don’t know what is ahead of us, then how could we even think of preventing the issues?

modern-architecture-home1

Don’t Wait, Prevent!

That’s where a good designer comes to the scene in full glory. A good designer has abundant experience in preventing issues. Not because he faced all of them, but because his clients did. One by one, they kept facing and solving different problems, learning a lot in the process. That is why a designer might know some things better than you. In a certain way, he was already there.

Before you start a major renovation, building a new house, making a considerable investment, dig deep down all the challenges that might come to your life. Pinpoint them and design your house with the future in mind. And the moment you find an obstacle, ask for professional assistance that will help you determine all necessities and come up with the appropriate solution that matches not only your lifestyle but your personality as well. 

By Aryo Falakrou (My Home Designer)

Things you should know before renovating your House

What you should know and do before renovating your house in Vancouver

burnaby architect

burnaby architect

BUILDING PERMITS IN VANCOUVER

It’s that time of year again. Many people are thinking about building a new house or renovating their existing home.

There is so much to consider and think about; it can be overwhelming. First and foremost, do your due diligence and ask the questions before you start. You can also take a look at another article on our website that goes into more detail and provides tips for a Successful Renovation Project.

In a series of blog posts, we will take you step by step through the process for renovating an existing house, demolishing an existing house, building a new one in the City of Vancouver. The procedures are similar in other municipalities, but there are differences. Visit the website (and City Hall itself) of the municipality you will be renovating, demolishing or building in.

Here are some questions you need to think about and ask before moving forward: Are you going to renovate or build? Do you need to demolish? Do you need permits? Which ones do you need? Do you need to fill? What is fill? What is your budget? Who do you need to hire?

BUDGET

This is the first and a very important part of the process. You need to have an idea of how much you can afford to spend so that when you meet with Architect/Home designer they can base their designs on your budget. It also might be a good idea to have a little bit of flexibility built into your budget for those unexpected events that might come up during renovations.

A couple of good articles to check out for setting a budget are listed below:

MoneySense

Money Sense is Canadian and has a series of articles to read about getting started with renovations, being realistic about expectations for costs and time, and where you should focus your time and energy with your renovations. According to Money Sense, “for a kitchen or bathroom reno, you can expect to recoup about two-thirds of your cost.”

Zillow.com

Zillow, located in Seattle, has similar thoughts to Money Sense. They also provide a cost guide for your ROI (return on investment) and the principles listed here are universal.

DESIGN PLANS

It is recommended that a designer (building designer, architectural designer) be hired prior to finding and interviewing a contractor for a house renovation.

A professional designer can provide a better idea of the scope of work for the renovation without being influenced by the contractor. This prevents contractors from adding more work than is actually needed and contractors are not specifically trained to provide proper design ideas that meet industry standards.

When it is time to interview the contractors, the blueprints are ready and you have a better idea what to ask your contractor. A good designer will have a good idea of the construct-ability of the design and be able to ball-park the budget price to fit the renovation.

Depending on the complexity of your design it could take as little as two weeks for your design plans to be completed. However, if the details and your preferences are more intricate, it could take longer.
You have to keep in mind if your renovation requires permit, the permitting process can take several months, so be prepared.

house renovation

house renovation

CONTRACTORS

Interview, interview, interview! Get referrals, check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and interview again. The most important step in the renovation process is choosing the right contractor for your renovations.

You want someone who understands what you want, your vision and is willing to work with you each step of the way. The contractor is going to be a large part of your life for a good chunk of time; from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the scope of the project.

Some questions to ask any potential contractor:
1. How long have you been doing renovations in Vancouver (insert City of choice)?
2. Is your bid an estimate or a fixed price?
3. Who are your suppliers?
4. Have you ever done business under another name?
5. How can we get in touch with you?
6. How long will it take to have the design plans ready?
This list is not exhaustive, but it will get you started.

Some other things to consider asking for is their license number, referrals (get the phone number of the referral and call them). Where are they located? Is the address on their business card a PO Box number? Do they have insurance? More importantly, do they have WorkSafe or Worker’s Compensation insurance. When it comes to insurance, they should provide the insurance number or a copy to you. If they don’t, ask for it.

home design vancouver

home design vancouver

INSURANCE

Speaking of insurance, while your house is being renovated, there will be tools and people in your house. It is, in effect, a work site. If something happens whose insurance will cover it? Will yours? Of course, we don’t want anything to happen to anyone while your home is being renovated, but it’s always a good practice to be prepared.

Some good articles to read, again, before getting started are listed below:

Globe and Mail – Before starting work, check your liability and Don’t forget insurance when planning a reno

Square One Insurance – Renovating your home? Square One advices you to tell your insurance provider or you may not be covered.

modern house designer

modern house designer

FINAL THOUGHTS

There are so many things you can do to protect yourself and it is very important that you do it before you get started.

Now that you have selected a contractor, what’s next? Now you have to go to City Hall and get some permits. Your contractor can do that on your behalf, but you should go with him for the initial visit. There are questions you should ask the Building Department at your local City Hall. They will be discussed in the next article.

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