Starting a Home Renovation or New-Build Project

July 28, 2022

Embarking on a home renovation or new-build project is an overwhelming, expensive, and time-consuming process. Often homeowners are inspired by their need for a change or by an appealing design but are then surprised by the logistics required to complete the project, like creating proper timelines and project flow. Whether you’re building a new home, adding on, renovating, or remodeling within an existing footprint, having a basic understanding of the process and the right team in place will be key to the project’s success. 

At Slocum Hall, we create an open and ongoing dialogue from the very start. Our clients understand the full scope of work, and the process that ensures an end result that meets everyone’s expectations. To provide a better understanding of how we work, this month, we’ve broken down our project flow – everything that has to happen before your project even starts! 

1. Documentation of Existing Conditions

Depending on the scope of the project, we survey the relevant areas or the entire house. If existing house plans are available, we confirm dimensions and either re-create or re-format the plans. If the project extends beyond the existing building envelope, we will recommend a Licensed Site Professional to document the site’s existing conditions.

2. Zoning and Code Study

For projects that require enlarging the footprint where additional living space is being created in the attic or basement, we assess the square footage of the existing structure against the lot size and determine if the increase in square footage is allowable by right. For projects where the home’s footprint is being enlarged, such as with an addition, we assess the square footage and setbacks of the existing structure to ensure that the site can accommodate the additional lot coverage and square footage based on the lot size. This study can be done on a high-level without a site plan, utilizing the property card on the town website.

Melrose House Interior

Melrose House Interior 2

3. Generation of Proposed Schematics – Schematic Design Phase

Based on the initial discussions, we generate a concept or multiple concepts (in plan-form) that address the clients’ goals. From there, we share the conceptual plans with the clients and discuss possible revisions. Once we receive verbal sign-off on the plans, we generate interior and exterior elevations that illustrate how the project will appear in two-dimension. We provide a three-dimensional rendering of the space or the exterior massing if needed. Along with the schematic design, we include basic material specifications as well.

4. Building Your Team 

If our clients do not already have a preferred contractor, we introduce them to two or three who we feel would work well with them – both interpersonally, budgetarily and scope-wise. We work closely with the contractors as they develop a budget for the project. The plans are ‘Schematic’ at this point; the contactors provide allowances based on the plans and historical information from previous projects. Once the contractors have completed their budgeting exercise, we review the budgets with the client. When a contractor is selected, they become a part of the team as we finalize the drawings for permitting with the town.

5. Engagement of Engineers

Once the schematic plans are developed, and a contractor is on board, we enlist the services of a structural engineer if the project requires any framing (removal of load-bearing walls or the addition of new spaces). The structural engineer devises a foundation and framing plan, sizing and specifying the lumber necessary for permitting. If new space is being added, the Professional Licensed Surveyor who provided the Existing Conditions Site Plan now has to prepare a Proposed Site Plan, illustrating the siting for the new addition or home. The Site Engineers will also develop a drainage plan if the town requires run-off water management. If the property sits adjacent to conservation land or is on a body of protected water, additional Wetlands specialists are retained to apply for permitting with the town’s Conservation Committee or governing body that oversees protected land. 


As you can see, pre-planning your project is quite involved. Our fees are based on a “not-to-exceed” amount of the stated construction budget, and we provide an estimated number of hours we feel it will take to complete the project, as initially outlined by the client. Every project is different, but what remains the same is the care and passion the Slocum Hall Design Group team puts into every project we take on.