Reality Vs Reality – Home Renovations


By Doug Smith

Welcome to my contribution to West Island Blog where I will share with you my expertise and experiences as owner of Trillium Development Group an Architectural design and Project Management firm based in the West Island since 2000.

I have seen it all, heard it all and guided my clients through it all. 15 years of hands on experience has provided me with countless and invaluable stories, anecdotes and lessons involving all aspects of design, renovations and new construction.Doug Smith Through this forum, I hope to be able to share with you sage advice that you can use to help prepare and navigate any project you may be thinking of undertaking, regardless of the budget, size or scope of work.

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Before anyone even considers embarking on a renovation of any scale, or perhaps plunging romantically into the realization of their dream of building a new house, there is something they all need to understand upfront. I’ve labeled it the “reality vs reality” reality check!

In today’s world of HGTV and the plethora of other home renovation / construction shows available virtually 24/7 on countless cable TV channels, as viewers we are exposed to many facets of a project. However, we’re treated to a mostly light-hearted 30-60min snapshot of what’s actually involved to plan, organize, start, and live through each project. And then of course the amazing Ooh-Ahh walk-thru at the end of each show or project serves to mute all traces of the behind the scenes reality we didn’t actually get to see.

In my 15 years of business, I have noticed with increasing regularity many of my new “1st time” clients are taken aback when I walk them through the projected timelines associated with each phase of a project. Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 2.27.00 PMMany of them have been groomed via the so called “reality” based home improvement shows to expect the process to be quicker, simpler, and with certainly much less homework, patience and ultimately endurance. In particular, renovations of any scale that take place in a house that is home to a day-to-day family are ill prepared for the reality of the intrusions they will face. Be it the seemingly non-stop presence of a parade of different workers and trades, the ensuing noise, dust and inconvenience, and unforeseen issues that crop up affecting schedules and of course budgets. Even Mother Nature can have an impact that is unpredictable.

After an initial meeting with a potential client, one of the first things I try to do is to refer them to one of my “seasoned” and satisfied clients that completed a similar size or scale project in order that they’ll have access to some additional shared wisdom as to the realities associated with their upcoming project. I believe strongly in “putting it all out there”, not glossing over the reality. Good work can’t be rushed. And to quote one HGTV personality, “doing it right the first time” is all about careful planning, scheduling, execution and many candid discussions of “reality” upfront and during the entire process.

So enjoy the world of HGTV etc, but be prepared for the “reality” of “real time” home improvements and construction. And good luck realizing your dreams, big or small !