Whether painting the walls or relocating them altogether, construction is a time of reflection and change. To best prepare for any scale of work, it’s helpful to consider two families of renovation: soft and hard.
At Village West Design we classify all of our projects by two categories: “soft renovations” and “hard renovations.” Generally we consider a soft renovation as minimally invasive—project work that does not necessitate your moving out of your home. A soft renovation might involve painting, new furniture, window ware, artwork, storage and organization, insulation/winterizing, rugs or freestanding lighting.
On the other hand, a hard renovation usually means you cannot realistically live in the space during construction—at least not without great inconvenience. If not gutting the existing space or building an addition, a hard renovation could still involve constructing or removing walls; alterations to ventilation, plumbing or other building systems; integrated lighting or electrical work; stone/tile installation; or new flooring.
In addition to the work itself, there is a critical distinction between what happens with the end products of the renovation. You can take much of what’s produced during a soft renovation with you if or when you move to a new home. The products of a hard renovation are items you’ll likely leave behind and which become part of the property itself. Believe it or not, both types of products add value to your home.
Private homeowners have to consider these distinctions for planning and resale. For co-ops and condos, many have their own definitions for gauging the extent of an alteration, and it is the designer’s responsibility to understand each building’s policies regarding work done on the premises—and to coordinate with management. Some features, such as custom cabinetry, could be a component of either type of renovation.
The most successful projects blend aspects of both a soft renovation and a hard renovation, so find out exactly what’s involved and when it will happen. And keep in mind that while construction can be a scary concept, it can also be exciting and—in good hands —a smooth process. Sitting down with a professional to understand the extent of proposed work is a critical step no matter what.