Category: Architect Blog

Architect Blog

Healthy Lifestyle Starts In a Healthy Living Space

A better and healthy lifestyle shouldn’t start with visiting the doctor’s office every now and then. A healthy lifestyle starts from within and in your mindset, and that includes a healthy environment in all aspects, starting from a healthy living space. 

Most of us think that, in order to live a better life, we should make sure our doctor’s visits frequent and on time while keeping our medicine cabinets full of pills. The truth is, the western lifestyle and its approach to medication can also cause more harm than good. Why most people nowadays tend to live a simpler life, eat healthy food, and spend more time in nature? The answer is simple – to have a longer life and fewer issues. This is the path of happy people!

How can you live happily and stay healthy? By keeping ourselves motivated, sharp-minded and focused on the goodness of life rather than negativity. Listening to music that keeps us happy is always a better choice than depressing news that won’t have any effect on our lives. Media are thirsty for your attention, while your mind is thirsty for positive vibes.

Nurture yourself with positive energy and help your body to cure itself.

I am an author and an architectural designer. I combine holistic/self-improvement philosophy with architecture. My wish is to open a dialogue about how to improve our living space to make it age-friendly so that we can live in our homes happier, healthier, and safer!

Your Home Is What You Are

There is no such thing as a magic pill for a better living, yet it doesn’t mean that you can’t live a better life, starting today. Collect your hopes and desires, new aspirations, and change your lifestyle to make the silver time of your life a truly golden one. And what is the one place in the world that overflows with all those? Well, you’re probably sitting there right now.

Coquitlam interior designer, healthy living space
Coquitlam interior designer

Your home is where you created all your memories, the first times, the happy times and the sad times, celebrations and goodbyes. The community around you makes (and reflects) your identity, the person you have become, and the respect you have within. It’s not easy to leave everything behind and start over elsewhere as a stranger. But you don’t have to.

We all have to make sure the environment around us is as safe and pleasant as possible. Even if you are in your golden years, it’s still possible to age in place and achieve peace of mind by proper preparation and some adaptations. Your stamina can be enhanced by the environment designed around your lifestyle, as the indoor atmosphere is one of the prime influences on mental health.

Healthy Living Space = Healthy Residents

Have you ever thought about your house layout and if it really works for you? If you live there long, you’re probably used to it, and adapted your way of life to the way our spaces are arranged. However, never forget that your home can be improved and changed at any time. As your lifestyle and goals change with age, so do your needs, and the environment should follow. 

So what can you do to improve your home? How can changing the layout of particular areas improve or complement your healthier lifestyle? Well, the truth is it can do wonders. Not only can it improve efficiency and productiveness, but it also boosts your mood and even help to achieve some of your goals. Even small changes count. 

Perhaps you need more space in the kitchen? Finding a neglected corner to upgrade it into a workspace may lower the stress that comes with working from home. Some improvements to a bathroom layout can do wonders for relationships. And don’t even make me start on how beneficial remodelling can be for ageing in place. 

Kitchen Is an Essential Part of a Healthy Living Space

Cooking at home is great for both your physical and mental health. The process requires focus, enhances creativity, improves social life and communication. At the same time, using fresh or minimally processed ingredients help you maintain the proper diet and boost your energy levels. 

Coquitlam architect healthy living space
Coquitlam architect

Sharing the experience with your friends and family boosts a sense of community and improves relationships. However, that also requires sufficient space. That’s why replacing a standard kitchen with an open-space plan is an excellent move, that can bring several new dimensions to your life. 

Healthy Living Space Should Encourage Movement

A sedentary lifestyle is the destiny of many, and going to the gym is not always an option. A spare room or a basement can be transformed into a designated space for exercise and workouts. Whether it’s a small gym or a yoga sanctuary, this adaptation can seriously enhance your workout routine, leading to improved mental and physical balance.  

What you need to do is to create a space that makes you feel good and, at the same time, makes you want to spend time in it. That way, procrastination will not be an option. The right ambiance, smart choice of colours, and tactical lighting can enhance motivation for any kind of exercise. If your choice is yoga, a peaceful palette of beige, green, or blue will promote relaxation and harmony. On the contrary, if you go for weightlifting or cardio, vivid colours and lively patterns will launch you to the right mood. 

burnaby interior designer
Burnaby interior designer

Healthy Living Space Is Free of Clutter

Excess can be stressful, especially if your things lie all around. Clutter and disorganization can raise your cortisol hormone levels, becoming a source of chronic stress over time. Smart storage can help to keep that under control. 

A cluttered work environment affects your brain and the way it processes information. Having continual mess in the living zone affects all activities, including the time for relaxation. But the worst place to have cluttered is your bedroom. 

Sleep problems are a common issue that keeps many adults up at night. Apart from insomnia and conditions like anxiety and depression, hoarding and overall clutter are the main culprits. Investing in remodelling that will improve storage and promote healthy organizational habits means investing in future life.

Keeping your bedroom a safe, technology-free zone is another great way to improve sleep and mental wellbeing. And if you can’t stand to leave your gadgets far, furniture with hidden compartments, even charging stations, will solve the problem. That will keep your circadian rhythm more balanced and the habit of scrolling before sleep at bay.  

Healthy Living Space Promotes Social Life

Community and connection are inseparable from well-being. Make sure that your home is an enhancer rather than a barrier to your social life. An open space built to promote communication will raise your hosting standards and help you invite people over more often.

What Else Can You Do

Proper ventilation is very important. A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) will not only filter the air but also balance out the temperature of the incoming air to level it with the existing home micro-climate. A dedicated system that runs a stream of fresh air in and out of the house all the time is an excellent solution to ensure great indoor air quality, and create a more healthy living space. 

It’s also important to know where the air is coming from. Air can travel all around the house, from the attic to the crawlspace, passing through the living environment. Broken-down insulation and rodents can decrease the quality of air that’s pulled into the house. Crawlspaces can contain moisture, mould, gases, while attics may host bugs and critters. Together with cracks in insulation, it’s not the kind of air that you would like to breathe. 

Without seals and proper vapour barriers, you will probably end up will the amount of moisture too high for a healthy living space. Moreover, older homes have more issues and a higher potential to be toxic than newer homes. Remodelling will eliminate all these issues, including lead paint, leaks and cracks, to deliver a strong shell in which you will build a new, improved life.

If you need advice or professional input to make sure your home is a healthy living space, schedule a consultation and find out how to improve today. Investing in the quality of your future life is one of the best investments you can make. 

The Importance of Feasibility Study

What is a feasibility study?

When you go to a dentist, the first visit is a diagnostic exam. Its purpose is to determine the condition of your teeth and the treatments they might need. As a result, the doctor will then give you a quotation and description of the work.

Now, when it comes to building a house (or renovating it), people often make the mistake of jumping in and hiring a contractor or a designer without getting informed of the value the designer has to offer. In fact, many are quite unaware of having such an option, let alone how to conduct it. 

Before hiring an expert, you can do the preliminary study and get a detailed picture of your upcoming project. This is what we call the Low Consultation Commitment, or feasibility study. In a way, it’s no different than a diagnostic visit to the dentist. After you receive the report, you have a much better vision of what to expect and how to move forward. Consequently, you define the right direction for starting your journey.  

I have several clients who chose to do an LCC with me first, which helps them start the process adequately informed from the beginning. The information that we offer in the LCC provides all the necessary knowledge the client needs in order to take the following steps of their project with confidence and clarity.

Feasibility Study for Construction Project

Add a second story to the house
Coquitlam Home designer

Feasibility studies must be undertaken in the very early stage of a project. They are particularly needed when a project is large or complex, or there is some doubt or controversy involved regarding the proposed development. Feasibility studies also involve specific requirements, such as environmental impact assessments.

Feasibility Study’s Purpose

  • Determining the viability of the project
  • Identifying all feasible options.
  • Assisting in the project documentation development, including business case, strategic brief, or project execution plan.

Large projects usually require at least several different feasibility studies on various expertise. They commonly include: 

  • Allowable floor area
  • Environmental impact assessment 
  • Setbacks
  • Budget analysis
  • Assessment of the existing facilities and their utility
  • Height restrictions
  • Solutions to accessing potential sites
  • Servicing strategies
  • Options for improvement
  • …and other

The more structured is the presentation of assessments, the easier it will be for a prospective client to decide whether or not, or how, to proceed to the next stage. For that reason, the format should be comprehensive and accessible.
You can book your free 15 min. call with an expert here

Why is Feasibility Study Important

cafe design
cafe design

A proper architectural feasibility study will consider all of the proposed project’s aspects, and allow the clients to understand and test the viability of the project before undertaking any real major investment. In other words, it needs to answer the big questions in order to support the decision-making process.

Undertaking a feasibility study allows testing of the development idea in order to find the weak spots, sideways, and space for improvement. The study takes into consideration all factors that may be directly or indirectly associated with the project. In a way, it determines the proper focus direction for the development. 

An architectural feasibility study covers various aspects of the project with different approaches determined by development objectives. It starts with a detailed evaluation of the site’s suitability and a budget estimation based on quantifiable construction costs. Still, the final result comes from asking and answering all the big questions. For that reason, an architectural feasibility study is, more or less, a guarantee that a project is viable in most -or all- fields.

The Answers It Can Provide

  • The chance to have the planning permission granted
  • What to expect regarding the construction costs
  • What to expect regarding operational costs
  • Alternatives, and possible more economical options (renovation or new construction)
  • All the non-negotiable issues that may affect the project viability
  • The levels of risk involved in the investment
  • The expected deadline for the completion of the project
  • When is it likely to generate a profit, if any is expected
  • Parties, consultants, and engineers involved in the project and their timeline to present their services
  • The questions that come with securing necessary funding from banking institutions or availing of any grant aid available.
  • A road map that explains where to start and where to finish the project

Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the feasibility study can unveil a necessary financial reality check for investors. It answers the questions needed to avoid the dangerous traps, so the investors can withdraw before wasting money on projects that are not viable.

How to Conduct a Feasibility Study

Vancouver remodelling
Vancouver remodelling

Prior to making a feasibility study, we meet with the clients. Firstly, we learn about their needs and ideas through a discussion. Secondly, the next step is to visit the site for an initial assessment, followed by preliminary concepts. After we establish the proper base, we use it to explore the feasibility, analyze all costs, and complete all surveys, drawings, and accompanying reports. The preliminary design, which is a part of a feasibility study, will then have to be revisited in order to confirm that the project is economically viable and approved by the planning authority.

At the next step, the preliminary designs are typically presented to all relevant stakeholders for further cost estimations. 

What Should a Feasibility Study Determine

  • Cost-efficiency
  • Correctly recognizing and addressing all issues
  • All project objectives defined and tested
  • Building structure
  • Funding options
  • Set achievable targets
  • Risks evaluation
  • Alternatives (each party in a household are in the same boat, if not how can we find a common ground?)
  • Compromising, what and how much is the tolerance?
  • Conclusions and recommendations 

The Cost of a Feasibility Study

On average, a feasibility study cost ranges in the neighborhood of $1000 to $2000 (or more), depending on the project’s complexity. The final price entirely depends on your requirements and how detailed you want it to be. Each client is unique, and every project comes with its own set of considerations. Consequently, each feasibility study can be tailored to fit the cost requirements. 

Always have in mind that the feasibility study can prevent all costly mistakes that come from lack of proper information and impulse decisions. Therefore, investing in a reliable, comprehensive feasibility study is an investment to savings.

What you get in return is the clarity of your options and the value you will receive from your designer.

At MyHomeDesigner, we put at your disposal our extensive experience in conducting reliable architectural feasibility studies for various projects. We develop preliminary proposals and use them to define the key question and determine accurate, specific answers. Sharing the ideas and knowledge will help you navigate through the preparation process and get a clear picture of what precisely you are getting into. 

Start your self assessment here, and book your time with our designer here.

Valentine’s Day Home Remodelling: A Gift That Lasts

Valentine’s Day is only a week away, and many homeowners around the world are feeling somewhat demoralized. We’re still locked out of life, in one way or another. For some, it might be a relief to avoid wandering the jungle of chocolates, flowers, jewellery, perfumes, and all those stuff that we have all seen a million times before. But then again – why skip the celebration? Instead of cluttering the silly little gifts that might never be used, opt for a gift that bears a real and lasting value. Something like a Valentine’s Day home remodelling.

Why Valentine’s Day Home Remodelling

Well, we may think of a reason or two… Let’s say:

  • You are most likely spending more time in your home than ever before. That means some details have become dull or irritating, and some minor issues that you have never been noticing before suddenly turn significant. Even if everything seems perfect, refreshed surroundings open new horizons and do wonders for motivation. 
  • You are single, and all the fuzz about Valentine’s Day is merely annoying. But you do love your home, don’t you? Why not giving it a gift? Yes, any other day is equally good for such an idea. But that “any other day” often stretches to eternity.
  • Your partner really wants an improved kitchen or a new bathroom. 
  • You are single, and really want an improved kitchen or a new bathroom. 

More Reasons for Valentine’s Day Home Remodelling

Why Now?

According to psychologists, when a person feels stagnant, a major change can be the catalyst to get things rolling again. After spending a year on a stagnant planet, we can all benefit from a boost.

Adapting to meet physical or family needs, making a space more contributory to social interaction, or more efficient, all can enhance the quality of life. Projects inspired by emotional or psychological motives bring great results when accomplished to meet some real, practical necessities. 

Even a small refreshment, or a new appliance, gives a couple more reasons to sit, talk, and work together. As a result, they contribute to healthier relationships.

The Gift of a Problem Solved

While it may not be the ultimate romantic Valentine’s Day gift, at least not according to holiday advertising – it boasts a high value that will grow in appreciation as time goes by. Broken features, bad appliances, leaky faucets, squeaky doors… If one or more of such things present a permanent source of stress for your partner, fixing them with a magic wand might just prove to be the most romantic thing you have ever done so far. Not only that it will improve the quality of life for you both – it will also communicate some subliminal messages, such as “I am paying attention – you’re important.” 

Inspiration for Valentine’s Day Home Remodelling Can Be Found Anywhere

Valentine's Day Home Remodeling - Red Wall Paint

Refresh the Walls

A fresh coat of paint is an effortless way to revive the room. Painting them red can bring a lot of fun and count for one of those “do crazy things together” relationship improvement moments. It’s not only a decoration task; it’s an experience and a way to create lasting memories. Also, it’s one of the easiest and cheapest home remodelling tasks. Even if the final result is not what you hoped for – simple repainting will solve that.

Alternatively, you may catch an early bird and opt for a vivid mix of red with Pantone Colour of the Year 2021 Ultimate Gray and Illuminating.

Pantone Color of the Year 2021

Warm-up With Fire

If you don’t own a fireplace, think of building one…or a few. Apart from a living room, as an obvious choice, think of placing one in your bedroom. A fireplace can be just the right addition for the upcoming Valentine’s Day. Perhaps you can’t go out on a date, but with a little effort, your own home can do a perfect hosting job.

Refresh Lighting Fixtures

Nothing affects the mood and overall room atmosphere like lighting, and updating the regular fixtures is a smart move. Low brightness patterns, hidden fixtures, ambient lighting with subdued colours deliver a soothing, restful effect, while high levels of crisp white light promote activity.

A bedroom environment will see a lot of benefits from changing the lighting system. Pick the right lighting solutions that will add some romantic flair, and install dimmers. Diffusing lamp designs with discrete illumination produce a relaxing, quiet, stress-free mood. Besides the amorous dimension, this setting also promotes tranquillity in all senses, which is useful for improved communication. 

Crystal chandeliers are back, and you can utilize them in many ways to add a serious style boost to your home. Try it in the bathroom and turn utility space into a seven-star luxury spa retreat for you and your partner. We’ll be back on this later.

For extra Valentine’s flair, try red lighting fixtures. A sassy and red light draws attention and works magic as a visual feature where least expected. Red bedside light shade will inspire and energize, especially as an accent, a light touch of stand-alone colour.

Valentine's Day Home Remodeling - Red accents

Another cheeky way to use red is a vanity light or kitchen ambient lights. Accent red is a great example of breathing life and energy levels into a neutral space. 

Update the Kitchen

Valentine's Day Home Remodeling -kitchen with red counter

If your partner enjoys being a designated house chef, he or she would surely be delighted with an updated kitchen. The good side of this project is that it doesn’t have to break the budget. A Valentine’s Day home remodelling gift can be as simple as refreshed countertops or upgraded appliances. A full kitchen remodelling would also include brand new cabinetry, plumbing, floors, and perhaps changing to a new, more functional layout.

Valentine's Day Home Remodeling - Red Backsplash

Updated appliances can also add more fun to meal preparation and provide you with some quality time together

Turn Bathroom Into a Spa Retreat

Valentine's Day Home Remodeling - Red bathroom accents

If your budget is limited, start from details, such as red Valentine accents. Neutral bathroom colours are a perfect canvas for all sorts of accessorizing. The next step could be updating your faucets and showerhead – it can convey the feeling of having a full remodelling job done. 

A new programmable thermostat will help in maintaining the right temperature during long showers. Support this feature with low-flow showerheads that minimize water waste while retaining the same pressure. Additionally, you may try vapour and steam generator for a bit of extra challenge. Shower benches for relaxing are also a good idea. 

Valentine's Day Home Remodeling - Red faucets

Still, if you’re ready to invest in a serious bathroom remodel, you might just end up feeling like you’re in a brand new home. In a good way, of course.

A luxurious bath is an experience that enhances all kinds of love: to your home, to yourself, to your partner. Spa-like master bathrooms significantly improve the lifestyle, help relaxation and promote better connection with self and others.

Not many things can instantly warm up a romance like a therapeutic whirlpool tub with candles and scents. For additional romantic points, support the whirlpool tub with a sensual dual walk-in shower with body jets.

Valentine's Day Home Remodeling - Red walls

A couple of impressive focal points can elevate the bathroom design to become yours and your partner’s favourite place in the house, a private sanctuary for regular dates. If beautiful views surround your home, consider more opening to outside with ample glass walls or windows. Don’t worry about privacy; a specialized glass will prevent the issues.

If you’re not a fan of modern design, turn the bathroom interior into a fairytale escape, filled with traditional romance and modern glamour, illuminated by a lavish chandelier. 

Luxury-Bathroom-design wallpapers are back
Vancouver architect: Luxury bathroom design

Install an Outdoor Kitchen

The weather will soon be fine, so why not enhance social life with a new outdoor kitchen? This practical and entertaining outdoor space will add a new dimension to all your relationships: with your partner, with your friends, with your home. 

An outdoor kitchen adds a lot of value, not the least to the property itself. You and your partner/family will get extra space to hang out, entertain, and try some new challenges that will bring you more together.

An outdoor kitchen doesn’t have to compete with the regular one. It can be as simple as one small counter space with a grill. But if you want to dress to impress, create a luxury outdoor space with a top-notch cooking station, wet bar, and refrigerator.

When Is the Right Time to Start Valentine’s Day Home Remodelling?

Suppose you are reading this a day before THE day and feel disappointed now. Don’t be. A plan is enough. Make basic preparations, talk to designers and contractors and see what they can do for you. Or call us and check how we can set it all up for you. A ready-made plan can make an ideal Valentine’s day gift. Present your loved one with a list, and spend time talking about ways to make you both fully involved in a process. Step by step, you will be investing in a better and happier future together. Finally, it sounds like a better investment than perfume and a box of chocolates, doesn’t it?

Sources: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

Should I Add a Second Story to my House?

Horizontal expansion or add a second story to the house? In which direction to renovate?

Many bungalows or one-story homes around your neighborhood have been built mid-century. Their primary purpose was to fulfil the basic needs of occupants at the time when money was hard to come by, and mortgages were not a common thing. More often than not, the available space was not sufficient to secure proper comfort.

Now that money is so cheap, and almost everyone can take mortgages for renovations, it has become a sort of trend to borrow money for the purpose of improving. Creating a better living space, adding an extra bedroom, making the kitchen and living room larger or adding one bathroom or two have never been easier.

The question is: should you go horizontal or vertical?

Hard to say. In some cases, going horizontal is great; in many others, vertical is a much better idea.

Coquitlam architect
Coquitlam architect

Why Going Horizontal?

A horizontal extension depends on the plot size: you need to make sure there is enough extra land on the plot. If its size is limited or the codes are too restrictive, then a vertical expansion is the only solution.

Going flat is a better option if you want to avoid stairs. Also, a broader floor plan with rooms further apart allows for a variety of designs and good separation between private and public zones. Horizontal expansion is a better solution for ageing-in-place, as it allows more freedom of movement. 

Ground floor extension can also prove to be a more affordable alternative, depending on your current roof structure. It allows for a better connection between indoors and outdoors, and it’s possible to reconfigure the floor plan to design the ideal rooms with a lot of open-plan space.

Why Going Vertical?

First of all: you can get a better view without losing your backyard, and maintaining the house would be much easier and cheaper. Next, going up will increase the floor area’s square metres without having to worry about the surrounding land.  

Many people are indecisive because of the footing, not knowing if it can take the load of the upper floor. No need to worry about that. A structural engineer knows how to investigate and to help us to create a point load. There is more than one solution available; for instance, we can enforce only some specific areas of the footing as a support and build the upper floor on it. 

You will get a new roof and a new lighting system. In some cases, we come up with a higher ceiling on the main floor, which results in brighter, more airy space. 

Coquitlam interior designer
Coquitlam interior designer

What Is the Typical Cost of Adding a Second Story to the House?

It depends on the house’s footprint, how many stories we are adding, and the condition of the footing. On average, the price will start somewhere around $200k and can go up as much as $500k or more (remember, you will end up doing some work on the lower floor as a result as well).

What Is the Price of Adding a Room Over the Garage?

Supposing that the garage is not too old, we would still have to do full insulation. This kind of renovation can cost from $40k up to $80k.

Some Factors Can Drive the Price Up

Demo, adding stairs, rearranging existing space, reworking plumbing/HVAC/electrical, and such. In most houses, the electrical wire and plumbing have to be altered to meet the new code. That is the main culprit of driving the cost up.

If we remove the existing roof, the new ceiling will sit on the existing wall, which then requires enforcement. In some other cases, we end up gutting the wall to the stud and applying new insulation. I don’t see any problems with rearranging as it does not present a significant factor. 

Are There Ways to Cut the Costs And Add a Second Story to the House?

A short term cutting cost might lead to long term pain of paying more on utility bills or maintenance. I suggest the best way to reduce the overall cost is to have a reasonable design and approach that will minimize the damage. Think ahead of time. A good designer’s work goes a long way when it comes to saving the construction cost.

Is It Cheaper to Build Horizontally or Vertically?

Absolutely it is cheaper to build vertically, 90% of the time.

1- the land is more expensive than air; by going up, you keep your valuable yard to entertain and enjoy

2- curb appeal, the house stands out much more handsome, and its full value will appear when selling the property

3- in many cases, you gain a better view with the upper floor

4- since the footprint stays the same, it’s cheaper to maintain, and the utility cost will be less

5- you save on digging and concrete works – instead, you get a brand new roof for the entire house

Modern home Coquitlam
Modern home Coquitlam

Should I Expect to Face Issues While Adding a Second Story to the House?

Weight out on the existing floor, lack of skill with some contractors, surprise costs…

Education is essential. The client should be prepared for the unknown and have the mindset to control their temper for unforeseen cases. An uneducated and abusive contractor can cause big problems, so make sure to hire an experienced contractor that doesn’t make a big deal out of every single issue. There will be many unexpected situations, but a smart contractor will solve them rather than use them as an excuse for a rip-off.

Generally speaking, is it worth it to add a second story to the house? Does it make more sense to sell and purchase an existing 2-story home? 

Nobody can make a home of your house except you. You are the decision-maker when it comes to the future of your living space and your mental health. Hire the right professionals and lead the team to make it happen. Financially, the renovation you do in your existing house is more valuable than buying another one that could turn to be a sack of surprises. If there is a bit of spark in you, then have no doubt about enhancing an inspirational home of your own in the lot where you have lived and grew already.

By Aryo Falakrou (My Home Designer)