Home Renovations – Q&A with a Local Architect

Greetings! Last year we dedicated a column to the topic of escalating home renovation costs during the pandemic and the challenges that this posed for both homeowners and contractors. Additionally, we offered insights provided by a reputable local contractor with tips on how to better achieve your home renovation goals in a challenging environment. This month, we focus on the essential first step of meeting with an architect and developing a game plan prior to putting a hammer to nail on an extensive project. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with an experienced and reputable local architect, Jure Sestich, to pick his brain regarding important insights that a homeowner may consider prior to beginning a project.

HH: When meeting with a homeowner for your initial consultation, what are important items that you like them to be prepared with?

JS: 1) A wish list that includes current and future needs/wants is a great way to start! From there, I can begin to offer suggestions on how to implement their ideas.

2) Is there a particular style or look the homeowners are striving for? Sometimes trying to apply a label on a style such as a craftsman, mid-century modern, etc. creates limitations. It is very helpful when a client provides photos of houses or interior spaces they like. Photos are a great way to convey what’s appealing to them and what they’re hoping to accomplish with their renovation. The goal of the architect is to help create a style and function that works best for the homeowner and their family, whether that is a combination of various styles or one specific look. 3) Providing a budget is a huge factor. Determining this budget will also help define the wish list. Unfortunately, most home improvement shows are misleading with regards to cost. The reality of a budget depends on construction type, labor cost, material quality, etc. Understanding ballpark costs usually plays a significant factor in the decision making process.

HH: Besides hiring an architect and contractor, what are other specialists that a homeowner may consider when preparing for a substantial renovation project?

JS: There truly is someone that specializes in every aspect of a project and, depending on size of the job, this can vary substantially. Following is a list of consultants to consider: Landscape Designer, Interior Designer, Audio/Visual Tech, structural Engineer, Geologist, Solar Consultant, Lighting Specialist, etc.

HH: What is your average turnaround time for permits approval by the LA City?

JS: This seems to be a top question for every potential client. To be honest, it truly depends because every project is unique. Project location (zoning, historical areas, coastal zone), scope of work, building restrictions, and/or height limitations all factor into the turnaround time. Making revisions or altering plans during construction may not only take more time but may also prove costly if completed work must be removed and/or replaced. The goal is to get it right from the start and completed the project in a timely manner. I believe the time aspect isn’t as important as the process. At the end of the day, when everything turns out as the client envisioned it, the timeframe really becomes a non-issue.

HH: What are some expectations you like to set with your clients before they embark on a project?

JS: Every project, small or large, should be a team effort. The more involved a homeowner is from start to finish, the more they’ll get out of it. Homeowners should play an active role in selecting finishes, appliances, fixtures, lighting, etc. This is an exciting time because they have an opportunity to customize every aspect of their home.

Team success is usually achieved when there is a strong synergy between homeowner, architect, and contractor. Working together and communicating, while pushing one another with tasks is a great way to guarantee a well constructed project.

For any questions or inquiries, Jure Sestich can be reached at jures@cox.net.

Mike Harper and Peter Hazdovac are both licensed Realtors® with Keller Williams Realty. For more info, visit www.hhcoastal.com.