Whatever happened to the renovation project you worked on for your family?




I found this question to be puzzling…instead of sounding like a question, it sounds more like a comment, in fact more like a STATEMENT that needs to be declared.  Over time, I learned from other architects that they themselves had the same experience working on family member projects, and the results have not been less than perfect(?).  I heard from one architect that he would  NEVER work for family projects!!!  

However, my intention on tackling this project has been somewhat optimistic; not only to complete the project, but also to get involved in every aspect of the project: design, construction, as well as the  “post construction” elements such as measuring how much money the family gets to save on their energy bills by my design suggestions. As a practicing architect mostly working on commercial building projects, I tend to rely on various consultants to give such feedbacks.

I have to admit that this project felt somewhat different than my work projects; had  more freedom to make decisions, however with more pressure to make the “right” ones. The whole process moved along the same way as any other projects I worked in the past; coming up with initial design, talking to clients (aka family dinner discussions) for their inputs, and talk some more as to  finalize the designs and finally submitting for the building permit for construction to start.  With one exception of going through the nightmare of living with the construction for four months, everything pretty much was the same as what happens with my other projects….

And then I experienced the “the first renovation day”;  the best way to explain what I was going through on that day can be summed up with one photo:  Here is the link https://onahjung.com/2013/08/27/first-day-of-renovation-2/ to that nightmare!  There  were many “what have I gotten myself into” moments along the process; dealing with contractors and their own shifting construction schedule, trying to select /shop for the best building materials with the  tight budget /unyielding schedule, the work truly started.

With juggling my architecture practice with this project, it has not been a smooth process.  However, I would not say that everything has been difficult….In fact, there were some perks of being the  “family member architect”; being able to make necessary and urgent decisions without going through many time-consuming approval process has been absolutely the best part of this project.

Seeing the “after” photos of the renovation,  especially comparing with the “before” shots, I would say  the process has been worthwhile.  In addition, getting comments such as “I cannot believe how you were able to completely transform this house into something I don’t recognize” with big smile from everyone in our family has been the greatest compliment I received on the project.

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