Tag Archives: designer



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by Brendan Charters
Photography by Valerie Wilcox

Architect, Designer or Builder—who gets retained and why

Unless you are a confident DIYer with lots of spare time, a home improvement project is usually born when someone puts pen to paper to retain the services of a professional. But who do you hire and in what order? Well, it’s neither an easy nor a one-size-fits-all answer.

ASSEMBLY REQUIRED - Architectural, interior design and building execution are all required to bring a project like this to reality.
ASSEMBLY REQUIRED – Architectural, interior design and building execution are all required to bring a project like this to reality.


The duty does fall upon you as the homeowner to take this first crucial step. Regardless of your experience or knowledge of construction or design, if you will be retaining the services of someone else to assist with the project, it is essential that you detail your wish list. Start high level, with the must-have items; for instance, a two-storey rear addition of a specific size, or the gut renovation of an existing kitchen or basement, or a 3,500-sq.-ft. custom home—whatever the high-level description of the project may be. Then figure out your realistic budget, and don’t be afraid to share it with those who will be helping you with the project. This will help people understand quickly if your goals match your pocketbook. Sure, retain a contingency for the unforeseen or unknown items that can come about in a project, and for items that the build may not include, such as furniture or appliances, but sharing the budget will help avoid both the homeowner and the professionals from wasting their time.

WISH LIST - Decide what the end goals are and your true budget to see if there is a fit.
WISH LIST – Decide what the end goals are and your true budget to see if there is a fit.


The second step is to meet with people—at least a couple from each discipline (architect or designer, interior designer and builder), and two to three firms that may roll all those services into one (i.e. Design-Build). We recommend meeting at the proposed project site, as it will allow the professionals to identify any potential obstacles to undertaking your wish list, such as trees, neighbours or other potential structure or site conditions. Get an understanding for their rough costs in a project like the one you are planning, and also use the time to get to know them and their process. Take notes, as different people will give you different advice and all of it could come in handy down the road, no matter who you ultimately retain to help. Designing and building a home or large addition/renovation project is unlike most other transactions. This service arrangement can involve working together daily for a year or more, and attitudes, egos and personalities need to mesh as well as the scope and budget do for the project to be a successful undertaking.

FINISH LINE - Touring finish suppliers early in design can help determine budget needs for finishes.
FINISH LINE – Touring finish suppliers early in design can help determine budget needs for finishes.


The third step is to retain services to commence the project development. This is the scariest, we know, but is the only step that thaws the project freeze we discussed before, and is required to convert the project into something real. If you are hiring someone for architectural design, as well as interior design, and a third person to build the project, we recommend bringing them all on-board simultaneously. It may only involve a minor commitment at the outset to buy some time, but will help ensure that the architectural design and interior design stays in line with the budget, and most importantly what it will ultimately cost to build. If you have a single source design-build firm retained, getting updated budgets upon crystallizing the basic floorplan will ensure budget constraints are adhered to if design changes are needed. It can be done early in the design phase, and thus be cheaper. Likewise, if you are selecting your own interior finishes, or retaining professional interior design help, we recommend touring suppliers to get a sense of tastes for finishes, and how those costs fit in against the initial budget. A high and low(er) type selection in the early stages will help your designer and your builder understand where your goals are esthetically, and will also help you to learn the cost impacts of your decisions related to finishes, and what compromises you may have to make to keep the project within the budget.

SERENITY NOW - The right budget, the right team and the right attitude ensure a dream home come true.
SERENITY NOW – The right budget, the right team and the right attitude ensure a dream home come true.


The final verdict is that while some may say you should start with a builder first, others will suggest the architect or designer needs to come first. We feel that ultimately the homeowner or project initiator comes first, and that upon the first project idea development, the other three disciplines should quickly follow, but in unison as soon as possible to ensure an accurate and successful outcome. It is ultimately up to you, the property owner, to decide how you bring them together, either by way of building your own team of designers and builders, or reaching out to a single source design-build provider. Neither option is right for all projects, nor for all consumers, and we urge you to meet with all options to see which people and process will work best for you and your specific project.


When planning your own addition, renovation, or custom home, remember there is real value in working with a professional to design and build the space. Remember, the process is as important as the final product here, not just the price. We recommend you start your search at the relevant professional associations to explore your options, including the OAA (Architects), AATO (Architecture Technologists), ARIDO (Interior Designers) and BILD or RenoMark, the home of the professional builder and renovator, to find the true industry professionals. Best of luck with your next exciting project!

Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year.



(416) 782-5690


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Hiring a decorator easy as 1, 2, 3

Hiring a decorator easy as 1, 2, 3

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Hiring a decorator easy as 1, 2, 3

by Glen Peloso

At eDecorate, the project, the client and the designer can virtually meet in a stress-free meet environment.

“Who is your designer?” That’s a question we imagine the “1 per cent” ask each another. But the reality is that design is within most everyone’s reach, you just have to find the right designer/decorator for you and your project.

Let me introduce you to eDecorate, where the project, the client and the designer can virtually meet in a stress-free meet environment. Getting a designer or decorator to help with your plan can save you lots of money, heartache and time.

All too often I find that clients are worried about having a designer in their home — worried they will be judged, or that they don’t have a sufficient budget to do the project they want to do. They also worry they wont like the designer’s ideas, or that their styles wont match up. eDecorate can take your fears away, including worries about your budget, style, personality and stress of having a design or decor professional in your home.

And when eDecorate says design and decor pros, it is true because we have vetted the people site and have given them the Verified by eDecorate seal of approval. You’ll want to look for that logo to assure yourself that the people you are dealing with are skilled professionals. No one will become Verified if they don’t meet our strict standards. In which case you may want to do a little more homework before you engage.

There are many skilled design and decor pros out there looking for the kind of project you have in mind. Some are more specialized to kitchen and bath design, while others may be colour specialists, and others can help you plan your space.

Now you can find them, and they can find you. Think of it like a dating app … without the crazy!

Posting a project is truly simple. You go online, or use the eDecorate app on your smart phone, and describe the project you are interested in doing. eDecorate asks some simple questions to better match your project with the perfect design/decor pro. Then you just sit back and wait.

Designers and decor pros in your area and interested in your project —and believing they can work with your budget — will introduce themselves via eDecorate. (Remember the dating site comparison? You don’t need to worry as you’re completely anonymous for as long as you want be.) You can view their work, credentials and reviews before you choose whom to call or meet with.

Once you get to your home, you are well on the way to knowing what’s possible — and you’re sure you’ve got someone you like and can work with.

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

1) Get the eDecorate app or visit eDecorate.ca

2) Post a Project

3) Create some beauty, save money and get the perfect space for you!

Glen Peloso has worked in the design industry for 20 years and is a regular design expert on The Marilyn Denis Show and Morning Live.

Follow him on social media:

Twitter: glenpeloso

Instagram: glenpelosodesigner


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Design/Build Expert: Custom Home Collaborations

Design/Build Expert: Custom Home Collaborations

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Design/Build Expert: Custom Home Collaborations

by Brendan Charters
photography: Valerie Wilcox (exteriors), Peter Sellar (interiors)

An architect, designer and builder outline how to create project synergies

Embarking on the design and development of a new home is a big decision. It requires a clear outline of goals, the assembly of specialists, the management of egos, budgets and a pinch of added stress. Some experience greater success at it than others. To help guide those looking to undertake a custom home project of their own, we talked with the architect, Brad Abbott, Abbott Design Ltd, designer, Meghan Carter, Meghan Carter Design, and the project manager, Jim Cunningham, Eurodale Developments on a recent project we collaborated with. By connecting, we gain insight on how they help guide their clients to create both a beautiful finished project, and a smooth process, all while working together. Sounds impossible, right? It’s really not.


Firstly, what makes the perfect custom home client for you? (i.e. style preference, personal character type, or other significant detail)

Architect Brad: A variety of tastes and styles is fine. Ideally the client has trust in the ideas and expertise of the architect and and allows freedom of creativity.

Designer Meghan: Our ideal client seeks to follow the design intent for creating a seamless esthetic, versus a choppy and piecemeal one often found through design on-the-fly type projects.

Builder Jim: The client is someone that understands challenges arise during any project. Nothing is seamless, you need to break an egg to make an omelette…so to speak. There has to be trust as you are working on their behalf at all times. Most importantly, respect and value for our role in the process.

Do you prefer to have the architect, designer and builder involved along all steps of the process, or just in their defined segment?

Architect Brad: The architect is integral to the overall design of the space, including the interior, such as: trim and door packages, post and beams and the overall structure. Continuity between the exterior and the interior can be critical. Involving the interior designer and builder early ensures a shared vision, as well as cost implications for the owners to use in their approval of the design direction. If possible, involve all parties at key design and budgeting milestones in advance of the build.

Designer Meghan: The clients need to understand the roles of each party and use them accordingly to obtain ultimate value. With increased collaboration throughout come the best ideas and the smoothest process from design to execution. If the architect is not doing the interiors, the interior designer should be involved at the first design stage to ensure details (such as window placements) work with furniture placement and flow on the inside.

Builder Jim: The involvement of all three is key when something is identified, which will not allow for the execution of the original design intent. While we do not require our hands held, we understand our role in the process is to execute the vision, and if it’s not possible, we are not tasked to design the solution—though we surely will make suggestions, the architect or designer will need to be the one to recommend and design the ultimate change for the homeowner to approve.

Introducing each other – when is it appropriate?

Architect Brad: If retained first, we prefer to do high-level budgets upon creation of floorplans and elevations. We recommend contacting two to three design-build firms for a meet-and-greet and reputation review. This review includes historically guided budgets, not trade/ supplier firmed pricing. It can help guide final designs and set the relationship path.

Designer Meghan: In years past, people would hire the builder first, then reach for the designer. This has now flipped, for the better. Once floorplans are about 85 per cent complete, a lighting plan and scopedocument has been created, we then look for one to two contractors to ballpark. They can then scale back, if needed, while it is still relatively cheap to design.

Builder Jim: As early in the process as possible, so that everyone can understand the goal from a space, style and budget perspective, as well as help the owners create a list of their priorities, which will govern how we allocate their budget throughout the project. It also helps build the team relationship approach if everyone starts from the first phase.

What to do when issues arise vs. that which is planned for?

Architect Brad: Don’t cut the architect and/or designer out of the conversation, just because they aren’t on site that day. A misguided or misdirected solution to a perceived problem can horribly impact the overall design. Keeping all involved can avoid diluted projects and relationships.

Designer Meghan: Start the build off with a project walk with all team members to try and flush these out at the get-go. Failing that, continue that method in the spirit of collaboration to ensure continuity of ideas and process for the benefit of the homeowner and the project!

Builder Jim: I would personally call the architect and ask them how they would like to handle the situation. Sometimes this can be flushed out by phone. Failing that, I would call an on-site meeting. If the client is unable to attend, I would brief them on the meeting and get their final approval on decisions before making the change, and document it.

Architect Brad, you work about 50 per cent in the city and 50 per cent in cottage country in Collingwood— what are the differences for you?

AB: In the country, clients tend to be slightly older, more experienced and are often moving out of the city. Typically, my country clients are better heeled and are more relaxed, having undertaken a few renos in the past. City homes offer unique challenges, such as this site with tight confines, whereas more rural settings provide ample views, along with more siting process to capitalize on topography, prevailing winds and lake views.

Designer Meghan, you acted as designer here, but you also undertake permit drawings and some project management duties for clients—how does this process differ for you?

DM: We know to enter with a low ego when working in collaboration as everyone at the table is skilled at what they do, hence their reputation and why they were retained. When we run from start to finish for the client, the project has more of a singular vision—our vision— which can make things easier but can also be limiting. When working as a group versus working independently, a clear outline of roles, responsibilities and deliverables of each member is a necessity to avoid overlap or conflict between professionals, which confuse clients.

Builder Jim, you acted as the project manager on this build, but your firm also undertakes an in-house Design-Build approach to projects—how does this process differ for you?

BJ: Our design process is more function-based in nature. Working with an architect and interior designer provides another level of design, which raises the profile of the project. It also tends to remove some of the copycat DIY design direction that is so prevalent in the industry. It’s not the right solution for everyone, however, and the Design-Build method works very well to help people undertake their dreams of expanding, updating or recreating their space to suit their tastes or needs. About 75 per cent of what we build is designed in-house, but we love building interesting and challenging projects designed by other professionals, too.

Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year.



(416) 782-5690


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