5 Essentials for a Successful Renovation

Belmont MA Attic Renovation by Morse Constructions


A home renovation is a big undertaking, but it doesn't have to be stressful if you take key steps before construction begins. 


1. Assemble your design and building team upfront 
Whether you are working with a design/build renovation company or a separate architect and contractor, assemble your team early so members collaborate to deliver the design you want at a price you can afford. The team shares information and brainstorms solutions that are both aesthetically pleasing and cost-effective. Spare yourself the anguish of falling in love with a design only to discover the building cost for that design exceeds your budget.

 2. Build in planning time 
To be meaningful, budgets and timelines must incorporate every detail of your project. As a first step, a good design/build team asks questions about your design preferences, lifestyle, likes and dislikes, and priorities. Then they work with you to specify features and products to meet your design criteria. As details are identified, the contractor prepares an accurate proposal that provides realistic budget and scheduling information. Expect the planning process to take from six to ten weeks.

 3. Develop a master plan for the whole house
If you envision making changes to your home in stages, be sure to discuss possible additional renovations with your design/build team. Future plans may affect current placement of plumbing lines, electrical wires, heating units or special design features. A good team saves you money by planning the current project in a way to reduce the cost of renovations down the road.

 4. Ask for visual aids
How will your space look and feel if you move a wall or add a transom window? It's hard to make an informed decision if you can't visualize the solution. A good team will help you "see"your options using computer illustrations, sketches and other tools.We had a client who was nervous about the placement of pendant lights in her kitchen. We hung pinecones to represent the lights and she said that made all the difference. "Steps like that make it so much easier to make the best selections," she comments.

 5. Expect regular communication 
A successful renovation rests on clear and concise communication between you and your team. You've developed your project with in-depth collaboration, creating a renovation plan that fully meets your needs. As the project progresses into the construction phase, you should receive daily updates of tasks completed, decisions that need to be made, and any items that will affect your budget or scheduling. 


For more tips about planning a successful renovation, please download a copy of our 8-page guide, How to Plan a Successful Renovation.

Download Planning a Successful Renovation

If you have questions or are ready to plan a renovation, please contact us to find out how we can help!


Tags: renovation

What Does Strong Renovation Market Mean for Homeowners?

Barometer badge.pngIf you have visited our Houzz profile recently, you may have noticed a new badge that you see on the left. 

We received this badge because Paul Morse participated in the Q3 2016 Houzz Renovation Barometer, which tracks confidence in the home renovation market among industry professionals. Paul was part of a national U.S. panel of architects, interior designers, general contractors/remodelers, design-build firms, and building/renovation and landscape/outdoor specialties. 

The Q3 2016 Barometer reflected widespread quarter-over-quarter confidence among renovation professionals. Demand for renovation services remains strong, posing a bit of a challenge for remodelers and design-build firms facing labor shortages of skilled trades and general laborers. While the construction labor market is tight in the northeast, we are better off than many other parts of the country, as you can see in this chart:

Data Watch: Labor Shortages Drive Up Project Costs, Slow Down Timelines


According to a press release issued by Houzz, half of general contractors (GCs), remodelers and design-build firms report that labor shortages are driving increases in costs to hire subcontractors (53 percent), while a third report higher costs due to an increase in compensation for their own employees (37 percent). For clients, these rising costs translate to increased project costs, as reported by 59 percent of professionals. The amount of time it takes to complete a project has also increased for half of firms, although project quality and client satisfaction remain high.

At Morse, we have been fortunate to add staff over the past few months. As we look toward a busy 2017, we are pleased to have a wonderful team in place to keep projects running smoothly and maintain the top-notch quality on which our reputation is built. Like so many renovation firms, we are scheduling quite far in advance. If you are interested in beginning a project in 2017, please contact us now!

Tags: renovation

Can a Bump-Out Deliver the Space You Need?


Do you need just a little more square footage but don't have the space (or maybe the budget) to add to your home's footprint? The solution may be a bump-out. Just as the name suggests, a bump-out extends off the side of the house. Think of it as almost an oversized bay window. Bump-outs usually only add a few square feet to a room, but that may be all you need to make a new design work for a kitchen, bath or other interior space.

The beauty of bump-outs is that they don't require a foundation, so they can be a cost-effective way to gain extra space. For example, this kitchen bump-out gave the homeowner a lovely little eating space.


West Philadelphia Kitchen

Building permits are required for bump-outs and the construction can sometimes be a little tricky. If you have any questions about whether a bump-out would work in your Boston-area home, please contact us! We would be happy to discuss your project.

 If you would like to know more about bump-outs or need a little inspiration, we recommend taking a look at the slide show below from Bud Dietrich, AIA on Houzz.com. Simply click on any of the images in the slide show to go to the full article.


Tags: renovation, Boston renovation, home design

Morse Constructions Project Featured in New Old House Magazine

When interior designer Barbara Elza Hirsch decided to renovate the master bath in her Acton, MA farmhouse, she turned to Morse Constructions to realize her vision. Barbara is principal of Elza B. Design Inc. and a frequent collaborator with Morse.

We stripped the bathroom down to its bones and built the bathroom that you see here:


We were thrilled that Barbara won a Designers Shine Award from Designer Bath and the bathroom was featured in this ad in New England Home.  Now we are just as pleased that the bathroom was featured in the Winter 2015 issue of New Old House magazine! The magazine is on newstands now (December 2015) and is available on iTunes for download.


If you are interested in bathroom renovations -- or any home renovations -- please contact us!


Tags: renovation, bathroom design, New Old House, bathroom renovation

Is a Ductless Mini-Split Right for Your Renovation?

Ductless mini-split air conditioners are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to energy hogging central air conditioning. Mini-splits -- which can often also supply heat in the cold weather -- consist of an outdoor unit containing the condenser and compressor and an indoor unit, which is often connected to a furnace or heat pump.

Many models of mini-splits can have up to four indoor units connecting to one outdoor unit, providing different cooling or heating zones that may be individually controlled. With a touch of a button, you can raise or lower the temperature of specific rooms without cooling or heating unoccupied spaces.

The energy savings offered by mini-splits are further enhanced by their ductless technology. According to energy.gov, duct losses can account for more than 30% of energy consumption for space conditioning.

Mini-splits are ideal add-ons for homes with non-ducted heating systems, such as hot water heat. When we renovated the first floor of our own home, we combined Runtal radiators with a mini-split ductless heat pump so we could heat the entire first floor or direct the heating and air conditioning just where we need it.


In the photo above, you can see the indoor portion of the mini-split above the artwork on the wall. Mini-splits can be hung on a wall, mounted flush in a drop ceiling or suspended from the ceiling, but they can't totally disappear. In addition, they need to be accessible for servicing.

Mini-splits can pose a bit of a design challenge, but one that can be addressed with a little bit of creativity. This slide show from Houzz offers some interesting ways to incorporate a mini-split into room designs. To read the entire article on houzz.com, please click any of the images.


If you have questions about incorporating a mini-split into your Boston area renovation, please contact us. We would be happy to discuss your renovation and the pros and cons of mini-splits.

Tags: renovation, heating and cooling

Creative Storage Space in Bedrooms

We recently wrote about how to find storage space in an older home and illustrated the article with a photo of a Cambridge bedroom with walls of built-in storage. When Houzz contributor Laura Gaskill wrote an article on creative storage in guest rooms, she shared our photo as a perfect example!

Here's the photo:

bedroom storage Cambridge, MA

And here is what Laura wrote about it:

If you have a window in your guest room, consider working a window seat with hidden storage into the plan. Think through what you need to store before deciding on a layout for your cabinetry — tall cabinets for wardrobe items, drawers for sweaters, shelves for bedding or books.

Here is a slideshow of the entire Houzz article. Simply click on any of the images to go to the full article on Houzz.com.

Since Laura's article ran, hundreds of people have added our project photo to their Houzz Ideabooks for inspiration for their own projects.

If you are thinking of renovating to make your home or a room work more effectively for you, please contact us! We welcome the opportunity to listen to your needs and discuss beautiful, creative ways to enhance your home.

Tags: small space design, storage, bedroom storage, remodeling, renovation