Article Index
Introduction: Why REDESIGN, RENOVATE or RESTORE a House, Apartment, Home-Office, or Small-Business Building?

Redesign, Restore, Renovate your House/Home, Apartment, Office, or Small-Business Building

-- Article Index --

0. Introduction: Why Renovate?

PART ONE: House/Apartment How-to SCHEMATIC + DESIGN Process

1. Some Important Decisions

2. Assessing Your Needs

3. Style and Character

4. Getting Ready to Design

5. Designing the Renovation

  • The Design Concept
  • Examining and Redesigning the Floor Plan
  • Evaluating the Exterior

6. Renovation Example Case Histories

  • A Renovation of an Urban Apartment
  • An Adaptive Restoration of a Townhouse
  • An Addition to an Existing House

7. Kitchen Layouts

  • Kitchen Requirements
  • Overall Planning
  • Other Considerations

8. Bathroom Layouts

  • Bathroom Requirements
  • Overall Planning
  • Physical Constraints
  • Other Considerations


9. Design Elements

  • Room Dividers
  • Fireplaces
  • Light
  • Color and Texture
  • Built-in Furniture and Cabinets
  • Moldings and Trim

10. Finishing Materials

  • Ceramic Tile
  • Marble and Granite
  • Brick
  • Resilient Flooring
  • Carpeting
  • Wood
  • Plaster and Gypsum Board

11. Completing the Design of the Kitchen

  • Cooking Appliances
  • Refrigeration
  • Sinks and Dishwashers
  • Small Appliances
  • Washers and Dryers
  • Storage Space
  • Finishing Materials
  • Lighting

12. Completing the Design of the Bathroom

  • Bathroom Fixtures
  • Fittings
  • Finishings

13. Storage Spaces

  • Bulk Storage
  • Household Items
  • Storage Strategies

14. The Outside of the House

  • Projecting to the Outside: Decks, Porches, and Greenhouses
  • Exterior Finishes and Weatherproofing

15. Windows, Doors, Hardware, and Skylights

  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Hardware
  • Skylights


16. Structural Principles

  • Vertical Supports
  • Horizontal Supports
  • Loads
  • Roof Structure
  • How Is Your Building Structured?

17. Structural Building Materials

  • Structural Wood
  • Lightweight Metal Framing
  • Concrete and Concrete Block

18. Plumbing Design

  • Getting Water to the Fixtures
  • Drainage

19. Heating Design

  • Heat Loss and Gain
  • Heating Systems
  • System Modifications
  • Solar Strategies

20. Electrical Design

  • Core Components
  • Units of Measure
  • The Three-Wire System
  • Safety Devices
  • Wires
  • Modifying the Existing Electrical Installation

21. The Structural Floor: Its Design or Renovation

  • Designing the Floor of the Addition
  • Modifying the Floor System of a Platform Frame
  • Modifying a Balloon-Frame House
  • Modifying Concrete-Slab Floors

22. Wall and Partition Design and Modification

  • Wood Stud Walls and Partitions
  • Removing Partitions
  • Girders and Columns

23. Designing or Modifying the Roof

  • The Flat Roof
  • Pitched Roofs

24. Foundation Design

  • Foundation Types
  • Designing the Foundations
  • Waterproofing

25. Evaluation of Conditions Needing Repair

  • The Exterior
  • The Interior

26. In Preparation for Construction

  • How Much Will You Do Yourself?
  • Preparing Construction Drawings
  • Filing Drawings with the Local Authorities
  • Estimating the Cost of the Job


INTRODUCTION: WHY RENOVATE a House, Apartment, Office, Small Business Building?

At the start of a renovation project you are full of anticipation and good ideas. At the end of the long process you are rewarded with your vision realized, your residence transformed. In between are months of planning (hours poring over catalogues and trekking through showrooms) and construction (dust and disruption), as well as possible delays, cost overruns, and frustration. House-and-home magazines are filled with titillating “before and after” stories, whereas books are written about the pitfalls of the process. You may ask, “Why bother?” The answer is: It is most definitely worth the effort.

You probably have at least one reason for wanting to renovate your house or apartment.

For most people the pressing need is for more usable living space. A new baby needs a bedroom, a flourishing home-based business needs office space, stereo-blaring adolescents need a recreation room. New domestic technology has created space problems in addition to making our lives easier. Where do we put the microwave, food processor, computer and printer, CD player, or Nautilus machine? Many homes are large enough but poorly organized or laid out, with a lot of wasted space that could be turned into living space or desperately needed storage. In an apartment or row house, with finite available square footage, a radical reevaluation of the layout may provide solutions. In a freestanding house there are more options: alter the floor plan, convert an attic, or construct an addition.

Renovation can also be a way to personalize your environment. There is something very reassuring about living in a place that was designed especially for you. There is a place to display your ceramics collection, and a large window perfectly frames the view you love. You finally have the French doors to the balcony that you have fantasized about and a large bedroom with a skylight over the bed. The bathroom has a shelf for your radio, room for all your cosmetics, and a soaking tub.

There are strong aesthetic reasons to renovate. Your house may be dull and characterless, with small, dreary rooms and long, narrow hallways. The kitchen and bathrooms are inefficient or unattractive. Much can be done to add character to a house that was originally poorly designed. On the other side of the coin, many people undertake the arduous chore of reconstruction in order to preserve the historic character of their period homes. A good many formally gracious old houses and apartments have been unsympathetically “modernized.” Restoration-minded renovators study the architectural style of the house, examine documented prototypes, and attempt to reconstruct the house as it was originally built.

Finally, there are the practical reasons for renovating: to upgrade or repair a deteriorated building, to make a house more energy-conserving or maintenance-free, and to increase the real estate value of the property.


Not every renovation is disruptive, expensive, or time-consuming. A minor renovation project may entail removing nonstructural partitions, replacing windows and doors, substituting new cabinets for old, and adding closets and cupboards. Moderate-sized projects would include adding a greenhouse or installing a new bathroom or kitchen.

Adding one or more rooms to a house would be considered a major renovation. The term “gut renovation” refers to the process of entirely re moving the interior fixings of a house, rearranging the interior spaces, and replacing kitchen, baths, and mechanical systems. Remodeling a barn or burned-out masonry shell would require an equal amount of work.

Any renovation project, regardless of its rationale or scope, requires an enormous amount of forethought. This book outlines the sequence of steps between planning and completion and discusses available options at every juncture. With it in hand you should be able to monitor your renovation with confidence.

Next: SCHEMATIC HOME DESIGN--Some Important Decisions

Top of Page  All Related Articles  Home