Navigating a renovation project whilst construction costs are high.

If over the last two years you have contemplated undertaking a renovation project, you will be fully aware of the dramatic shifts experienced within the construction market. Unfortunately, there is no avoiding the reality that construction costs are higher right now. In this article we provide a brief overview explaining why quotes being issued by construction companies in Europe are exceeding expectations. And more importantly, we will be sharing tips on how to effectively navigate your way around these issues in a way that helps to ensure your renovation stays within budget. 

Construction Cost Increases: What, Why and How to Overcome them?

What? The costs in question

As indicated by graph 1, there has been a considerable increase in the price of construction materials. This has put construction company’s profit margins under pressure. In response to this, contractor prices have also been forced to rise to defend this margin, see graph 2.

Why? 3 key reasons
  1. Inflation: As of now, the eurozone’s headline inflation rate is running at 5 percent. As supply gradually catches up with demand over the course of 2022, inflation is predicted to go down, but currently products like construction materials are particularly expensive.2
  2. Supply Chain Disruptions: Construction material inventories in Europe are at a record low. Over the course of the pandemic, manufacturing of essential materials all over the world came to a grinding halt. Suppliers must improve their inventories before price decreases can be considered.
  3. High Demand: These supply chain disruptions are accompanied by high demand in the construction sector. Not only are there severely back-logged projects that were disrupted by the pandemic but also high demand for new construction projects. This is arguably a consequence of people having saved throughout lockdowns and/or those who wish to prioritise the quality of their home environment with the advent of remote work.
construction costs
How? 5 tips for overcoming the issue
  1. Don’t Delay: Although this may sound counterintuitive, and it may seem like the most obvious choice is to simply wait until construction prices go down, there is no guarantee when this will happen. Contractors are likely to maintain, if not continue to raise their prices. High demand right now may also mean your project is pushed much further than you would anticipate and eventually at a higher cost.
  2. Plan Ahead: With this demand in the construction sector in mind, it is advisable to plan ahead. If you have time and do not need to start construction right away, make sure you still engage contractors as soon as possible, and then plan with them to start in a few months. When you can adjust your timeline to their pipeline, this can help with the costs. If you need your work prioritise, they are likely to charge for the urgent work.
  3. Prioritise: As construction prices are high, it may be a beneficial solution to use a contractor for only the most essential parts of your project. A contractor is usually necessary for significant interventions like breaking walls, but surface level actions like painting and decorating for example, you could perhaps delay to a more convenient time or, better yet, try doing it yourself!
  4. Be Selective: Opt for materials and features in the design of your project with the highest-cost benefit. This is particularly relevant now as certain materials are far more expensive than others. Take the time to consider what is most essential to you in the project and what parts of the design you are willing to adapt and be flexible with for the sake of cost.
  5. Professional advice: Having the input of an architect can significantly increase the tangible financial benefit of the tips mentioned above – planning, prioritisation and selectivity. Architects help you do more with less. Professional experience promises creative and cost-effective design solutions you would not have considered, for example sourcing a less-expensive material alternative which achieves the same desired effect. Industry connections to suppliers and contractors also potentially mean they can negotiate discounts on your behalf.

It may initially seem counterintuitive when discussing ways to curve construction costs to propose piling on the additional expense of hiring an architect. However the benefits of having a highly experienced professional on board your project, who are familiar with the ins and out of the construction process and of the industry itself, arguably do outweigh the costs. From avoiding potentially costly mistakes to the selection of cost-effective materials, architects guarantee your vision is achieved and eliminate unessential spending. Our previous article may help you answer the question: Do I Really Need An Architect? Note the AKKA Architects case study which demonstrates how a client was saved €14,750 through acquiring major furniture discounts.

It is understandable if you feel discouraged about pursuing a renovation project right now because of the challenging state of the construction industry. The process towards recovery may well be long and unpredictable. However, the truth is that waiting will not necessarily guarantee costs will improve. If you are hoping to renovate or undertake a new build in the near future, it is advisable to approach the project head on. Make sure you have all the necessary knowledge about new developments in the industry and an experienced team to help you make innovative and financially smart design choices.

If you need advice on navigating construction costs or are considering hiring an architect for a future renovation project, get in touch with us. We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

Interior Design Styles for Your Home: Modern vs. Minimalist Styles

Modern and minimalist are two of the most popular design styles of our current day. With regard to characteristics, they share several similarities but still remain two very distinct styles. You may not be entirely sure what they consist of as style, in this article we hope to provide some clarity on the matter. If you are drawn to either style and are considering potentially implementing them in the interior design of your home, it is beneficial to understand their origins as well as their specific differences. Understanding exactly what makes a style helps to be able to execute as effectively as possible.

Read on to discover the origins and manifestation of the minimalist and modernist movements in design and architecture.

Manifestation in Design
  • Modern: Throughout design and architecture, this movement manifested itself in the form of ‘simple geometric shapes and unadorned facades’ embodied by the emergence of steel and glass skyscrapers.1
  • Minimalist: Minimalism in design is characterised by a structure reduced to its necessary elements. Identifiable by the presence of large void spaces, simple lighting and monochromatic colour schemes- particularly white.
minimalist design
Design Style Origins
  • Modern design is rooted in the modernism movement which arose in the early 20th century of Western society, particularly so following the First World War. It is defined by a shift away from realist depictions and towards an alternative embracing of experimentation and abstraction.
  • Minimalist design was founded upon the western art-movement of minimalism which began after the Second World War. Its origin has been interpreted as a reaction against to abstraction in favour of extreme simplicity in form and function.
Characteristic Similarities & Differences

Modern and minimalist designs both strongly emphasize form and function. This shared aspect makes it possible to combine these styles if desired.2 The diagram below indicates the characteristic similarities and differences between minimalist and modern design styles with regard to colour, material and features.

minimalist vs modern design

It is important to remember that there are no rules when it comes to interior design styles. The most misconstrued idea being that you should adhere to one style throughout your whole interior. Mixing styles in different areas can actually create a very exciting dynamic and help avoid monotony as you move throughout the home. The overlapping similarities between the minimalist and modern styles highlighted in this article make it possible to combine them without appearing overly fragmented. Their differences also could also be utilized to establish visual separation between open plan spaces.

Perhaps you can appreciate the minimalist and modern styles but are still searching for that perfect design style that suits you? Take a look at our article on 9 interior design styles for your home which also offers a convenient downloadable guide for your use.

modern design scandinavian

Some of the styles featured in our 2021 interior design style guide, such as Traditional and Scandinavian for example, would prove challenging to make coherent in proximity to one another. If you are someone who is drawn to the unique possibilities of combining design styles to craft an exciting living experience, but you are unsure how to create the perfect balance in combining different styles, we highly recommend you get an architect or interior designer on board for your project. They will provide the expertise you need to design a space which is unique but still well-designed, aesthetically coherent and functional.

If you need assistance with choosing interior design styles or are planning on constructing or renovating your home would like some help, get in touch with us. We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

Long-term home office solutions for remote workers.

Even back in 2019 studies were clearly indicating that remote work was sharply on the rise, with an Upwork annual report predicting that by ‘2028, 73% of all departments are expected to have remote workers’1. There should be no doubt that the upcoming generation is reshaping the workforce and the pandemic appears to have only accelerated this trend towards hybrid work. Many of us experienced this lifestyle in some form or another over the last two years, but what seemed once a temporary solution has become a staple feature of many peoples’ working lives.

Perhaps your home work station involves setting up shop on the kitchen table every morning or manoeuvring a desk somewhere with acceptable zoom lighting and background. Depending on your situation, you may be finding the lack of permanence, comfort and privacy tiring when it comes to solutions like these. If you predict that remote work will be a common feature in your working life in the future, as it will most likely be for many of us, it may be time to consider more long-term home office solutions.

In this article we compare different home office solutions to help you decide which might be most suitable for your living situation.

There are several factors personal to your situation which determine the kind of solution that would be right for you. Deciding whether you will opt for an open or closed office station is the first important step. This choice should be made relative to the type of work you do, where and how many people you are living with, your budget and, of course, your personal preferences.

garden office studio

The 3 levels of change for creating a home office:

1. Structural Changes

These changes refer to large scale projects which involve some degree of demolition and construction, recommended for those who envision a closed plan office with the highest degree of privacy. However this also requires sufficient space and the budget to dedicate to a larger scale project. Demolishing walls and creating new partitions can effectively section off an area within the home which would become an enclosed office space. Depending on the location of the property, there are also options which do not involve disturbing the existing structure of the building. For example, assuming planning permission can be granted, a small studio could be built as an extension on the terrace of as a top floor apartment. Alternatively, if located on the ground floor, perhaps an extension or a little studio at the end of the garden could work well, see here for potential garden office inspiration2.

2. Layout Changes

If you do not wish to make such significant structural changes or would simply prefer an open plan office, adjusting the furniture layout of your current space could be a very effective solution. With regard to layout this might entail rearranging the furniture in a room of your home to clear an appropriate space for a desk. There are several factors that should be taken into account when planning this approach, such as making sure there is enough natural light available in the space whilst also avoiding glare on your computer screen. You might also consider the use of a moveable partition or a plant wall to create an appealing background for video calls and to establish a better separation within a room. Our article on optimising bedroom space suggests a variety of different ways to temporarily convert a bedroom for an alternative function when not in use.

home office bedroom
3. Feature Changes

The main challenges that arise as a result of working with an open-plan office space at home is the potential to clash with surrounding activity within the house. Perhaps you have a family, roommates, or a partner who is also working from home. This situation often leads to sound and visual distractions. If you opt for a workstation in an open plan, you can add to these solutions for those specific distracting moments. Making use of a room with a door offers a good solution here, for those moments when calls overlap for example. You might like to consider incorporating a standing desk in the bedroom designated just for calls, not only would this lessen distractions but standing for periods of time throughout the day is highly beneficial for the health. Acoustic dividers positioned on the main working area could also help if you work alongside others at home. They are made of sound absorbent material like felt for example which can double as a pinboard, bringing more office-like features to your space. Our previous article on home office furniture provides a range of specific furniture suggestions that would elevate your set-up to support the healthiest home working lifestyle possible.

The kind of home office you can create is highly dependent on your current space and the nature of your working life. Architects and interior designers can offer insightful perspectives on how to make the most of small spaces to suit your unique criteria. Upon evaluating your available space, specialists are usually able to come up with creative and cost-effective solutions which may have never considered before, even simply regarding layout adjustments and incorporating new features. Consulting a specialist is particularly recommended if you have found yourself in need of a closed office space but don’t simply have a ‘spare room’ available to convert, or a clear space you can ‘wall-off’.

Whether you opt for the use of a specialist or not, it is so worthwhile to take the time and effort required to create the best possible home office for yourself. Your environment has a direct correlation to your mental state and thus your ability to work happily and productively. With some creativity, aspects like light, sound and your visual frame can be significantly improved at any level of change mentioned above.  

If you need assistance designing a home office or are planning on constructing or renovating your home would like some help, get in touch with us. We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

Ways to optimise the use of space in your bedroom

The first weeks in January provide a great opportunity to set the tone for the upcoming year ahead. This may come in the form of setting ‘resolutions’ for new positive habits we’d like to acquire to improve our day-to-day lives. Perhaps you find yourself wishing to feel better rested by going to sleep earlier or less stressed in the morning by waking up with plenty of time to spare? To support goals like these it can be very beneficial to make practical adjustments to your physical environment which will help you establish these new habits.

Your bedroom is a very important component of not only your living space, but also your life. The quality of your bedroom space is known to significantly impact the quality of your sleep and thus the way you approach each day. The main issue most people face in their bedrooms is clutter. The sense of disorganisation and mess clutter brings to the room can affect your mental health quite negatively. Clutter is usually the result of inefficient storage solutions or poorly-planned attempts to use the space for multiple functions.

In this article we share some interior design ideas which can be used to optimise your bedroom space. The first part will address how to reduce the overall clutter and the second part how to create a bedroom space which is well-suited for multiple functions.

PART I: Reducing clutter in your bedroom space

Maximising storage space

Whether you prefer to reserve the bedroom space for relaxation only or are interested in having it become a multi-purpose room, it is essential to have good storage options. Traditional wardrobes can be very bulky and occupy a great deal of floor space, therefore for small bedrooms we recommend considering alternative storage options.

  • Bed hutches provide housing for storage baskets underneath the bed whilst also creating a frame for the bed itself.
  • Upholstered storage benches positioned at the end of the bed have a dual use as it offers both seating and lots of storage.
  • Mounted wall shelving is an effective alternative to night stands and make up tables which tend to take up floor space unnecessarily.
bedroom storage

Source: AKKA Architects, residential client

PART II: Creating a bedroom space with multiple functions

1. Easily convertible furniture

Incorporating fold-up furniture is ideal if you would like to be able to regain the entire space when you’re done using one of the functions. This solution is ideal for users who only need to convert the bedroom space occasionally as oppose to permanently and who may need the space for a range of alternative purposes.

  • Murphy beds are a great way to reclaim a lot of square-footage when it is not in use.
  • Foldable desks which can be mounted to the wall and are easily opened and collapsed.
  • Sofa beds are a stylish bedroom addition which also replace the need for a guest room. 
  • Non-fixed partitions which are either foldable or moveable via wheels can provide ideal visual separation of the room, for office work for example.
2. Permanent multi-use space

The adoption of hybrid work at one time appeared to be temporary but for many is now becoming a constant feature of their working lives. This may mean considering more permanent solutions for a home office, removing the need to set-up and dismantle the working environment several times a week. If you decide that your bedroom is the best place to set up your office. Here are some ideas:

  • Loft beds free up the floor space underneath by suspending the bed above, usually made accessible by a ladder or stairs. This creates a perfect area below for an office nook, in which you can fit a desk, shelves and anything else your office may need.
  • Floor-to-ceiling fixed partitions which slide on rails or rotate to open and close are effective in creating separation between the bedroom and office space. The screen provides an ideal background for zoom calls, as it is recommendable for the bed not to be visible in your frame.   
bedroom space home office

People often shy away from the idea of combining their bedroom space with another function, and this concern is not without good reason. If executed thoughtlessly, you run this risk of creating two poorly operating spaces. However, with a well-thought-out design which is suited to the nuances of your space, there is real potential to maximise even the seemingly smallest of spaces.

Combining the bedroom and the home office is a perfect example of optimising your space. It is something we believe will become increasingly more common as remote work continues to grow in popularity amongst employers. Our next article will expand on creating the ideal home office for remote workers and freelancers. In the meantime, we recommend taking a look at our previous articles on Home Office Furniture and the Challenges of Remote Work.

If you need assistance designing your bedroom to optimise space or are planning on constructing or renovating your home would like some help, get in touch with us. We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

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“We would like to express our gratitude for the time you invested in helping us get to a clear picture.  Anna and I really appreciated the call we had with you, your responsiveness, and the great empathy that you exhibited throughout – we certainly felt very “well taken care of” when engaging with you.  On the practical side, we especially appreciated that there was the option to obtain robust bottom-up cost estimates for the construction itself (not every design architect offers this).”

-Private Client of AKKA

 

 

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