COVID-proofing your home

Now that you have to adapt to live with Coronavirus, learn how you can easily redesign, refurbish or renovate your house.

It has been six months since Covid-19 hit central Europe and things got shut down. Now lockdowns are easing up, things are re-opening again and our lives seem to slowly be regaining various degrees of normality. However, new spikes in infection cases are appearing and the next few months remain uncertain. One thing is sure, we are far from the normal we were used to before the pandemic. We are now adapting and trying to find new ways of doing things, a new routine, a new normal.

While the new normal may take different forms for different people and in different countries, for all of us, our homes have gained a larger share of our time. No matter the details of our new routines, most of us spend more time at home now than we did before Covid-19. As a result, our homes need to be redefined. Now that we have to work, live, sleep, eat, relax and maybe even educate our children all in the same place, our homes have acquired a new meaning and our relationship to our homes is being redefined. This is happening whether we like it or not. It would be much better if we redefined our homes intentionally.

Whatever your specific situation, there is one thing we can all do when it comes to COVID-proofing our homes.

Whether your apartment is small or large, you have surely identified new needs in the last three to six months. It may be that you need to compartmentalise your home better to improve your focus on work when working and on your family when spending quality time with them. Or it may be that you simply need to make room for a desk to create a decent working space for yourself. Or it may also be that, now that you are spending so much time at home, you experience increased frustrations, and see things that need fixing and improvement that you may never have noticed before. Whatever your specific situation, there is one thing we can all do when it comes to COVID-proofing our homes. It is a simple 4 steps exercise that will help you figure out what is possible in your home, what is ideal for you, what works within your budget and how to organise it all moving forward. This 4 steps exercise will enable you to take inventory of the problems you face, as well as your ideas, your needs and wishes and then prioritise them to implement them as best possible and within the time and budget, you have.

Here are the 4 simple steps we encourage you to think about. In fact, they are pretty similar to the steps required to reach a medical diagnosis, so we call this process an Architectural Diagnosis and Treatment Plan.

1. Take inventory of the symptoms

Before you start, it is important that you take inventory of your thoughts and ideas. So sit down and write down the annoying frictions as well as fun ideas you may have. Consider clustering your thoughts in 3 columns: the problematic items that bother you often, the little frictions that would be nice to improve and the ideas you may have for an ideal space. This is important for the prioritisation that will be needed at a later stage.

2. Perform a physical examination

Now that you have your thoughts and ideas organised on paper, go for a tour of your house. Walk around your home with your list and take notes of the new ideas that may pop up or the things you see that can be complications or question marks. Is there a column in an unfortunate place? Is there a wall you’d like to remove but you are unsure if it is a structural bearing wall (that, therefore, cannot be removed easily)? Write all questions, doubts and new ideas down.

3. Reach a diagnosis

After the physical examination, comes the provisional diagnosis. Here you come up with an initial version of what you think the main problem really is. You may need to prioritise in order to pin-point the essential core problem(s). What do you really want to fix? Are there any minor issues that can be considered ‘side-effects’ and that may be improved by addressing some of the other core issues. You may dive into some research here, and may even need to request the drawings of your house from the municipality or the architect that may have worked on it last. The goal of this step is to identify the real problems and their potential complications if any.

4. Create a treatment plan

Now that you have identified the core issues, it is time to create a plan. What are the solutions available out there to address the issues you highlighted? What do you think you may need? Study, explore, research and sketch what is or may not be possible to do in your house. In order for a plan to be successfully implemented, looking at costs here is essential. For every solution, you will need to research the corresponding cost. Make sure you consider materials cost, as well as labour costs if applicable. When we engage in this process for our clients, we compile all the thoughts, ideas, information collected, possible solutions and cost per solution in a final report we deliver to them. This constitutes a roadmap for their next steps. It is important that this report is complete and comprehensive. This is to ensure that when you start implementing the solution(s), you do not face any ‘surprises’ that were not accounted for in the report. Going over time and over budget is often the result of an incomplete roadmap upfront. In addition, make sure you structure your treatment plan per solution, i.e. include a breakdown of costs per solution. This is helpful when you need to make priorities based on limited time, budget or other resources.

Invest the time upfront to ensure a smooth process down the line, one that can remain within your timeline and your budget.

As you go through this process, don’t feel bad if you find yourself going back and forth between the different steps. Often, this is not a linear process and it is normal to go back and forth. For example, going back to check something in the house once you are putting together the diagnosis is perfectly ok.

Like a medical diagnosis, if the case is more complex, you may need professional assistance or simply a second opinion. For that, you may want to reach out to architects. When you are selecting the right architect for you, just make sure they spend enough time upfront to understand your needs and to create a plan for you, before jumping into the design process. Projects that go wrong, that go over time and over budget are often the result of incomplete or superficial diagnosis and an unrealistic and not comprehensive plan. Invest the time upfront to ensure a smooth process down the line, one that can remain within your timeline and your budget.

To see what are the three fatal mistakes that clients often make when hiring an architect for their houses, click here to download your free copy.

Here’s what one of our readers said after reading it: “The document was very interesting and I could not agree more with the team at AKKA. My wife & I had one experience of renovation with our current apartment. Our architect at that time should have read AKKA’s document beforehand, to say the least. We were not very happy with how the job was done even though the end result turned out ok, thanks to the decisions my wife and I took and the work we had to do”. – Georg Huston

Now that we are all spending more time at home, and doing more at home and more often than we used to, we are all looking at our homes with fresh eyes. Whether your house is large or small and whether you are facing big problems or small frictions, follow the 4 steps of the Architectural Diagnosis and Treatment Plan to explore what improvements you can now make to our home, in order to improve your daily interactions and make your life easier. Start with taking inventory of the symptoms you experience. Perform after that a physical examination of your space. After the physical check, identify the diagnosis and after that, create a treatment plan for the solutions you can identify. Remember to create a breakdown of the solutions and the corresponding costs. Projects that go over time and over budget are often the result of poor planning, an incomplete diagnosis and an unrealistic plan and inaccurate cost estimation. If you feel unsure about any of the solutions, ideas or cost you estimated, seek professional assistance or a second opinion!

The last client we offered this Architectural Diagnosis and Treatment Plan to, had this to say about it: “I loved working with AKKA Architects. I advise anyone who feels like architects are confusing, expensive, or not for them to give AKKA a try. As a first-time homeowner looking at an old building, I was confused about how to approach the renovation. The team at AKKA was able to offer a tailor-fit solution that helped me understand and plan my renovation in phases. They helped me feel comfortable and broke down all the necessary steps in a transparent and approachable manner. AKKA also made sure I was aware of all the choices available and I truly felt like they were encouraging me to make the best choice possible.”Jonathan Tsay

Curious how we have helped numerous other clients with this very process? Would you like to know how you can apply this process to your specific situation? Get in touch with us and request a free quote.
Not ready? Download here your free copy of The three fatal mistakes report.

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