The cabin is the place for family gatherings, both young and old sharing life experiences, fishing, swimming, and camping. A place to get away from it all, take a break from the daily grind and recharge the batteries. Some are first time cabin owners while other are multi-generational, handed down from parents or relatives.
Some cabins are from a vintage time maintained through the years to try to keep up with today’s demands. Others have been repaired or added on to, along with upgrades of plumbing, electrical or heating systems. While some may have been intended to sleep one family, the demand to lodge extended family or friends is all too common. Perhaps it has become too small for the growing needs of the family. Parents and kids have all developed needs for greater space, as well as special use and privacy. The problem is that the structure cannot grow and adapt to these needs.
Then there are the conditional needs of the building itself. Rooms are too small and disconnected, bad approach and views, a roof that needs patching or replacement, windows that are old, leaky and inefficient, floors may be sagging, or the place is just plain ugly and outdated.
There are major decisions to be made: modify the cabin, patching it up as best you can, re-planning and updating the existing structure and adding space as needed, or tear down and start over, building a new cabin to meet the needs of today.
So what to do next and how to do it? Let’s tackle modifying and adding to the existing structure in more detail. An initial first step is to develop a “Project Program”, which is tailored to and defines your specific needs and objectives. Topics like architectural style and specific details and materials regarding the interior and exterior. Do you want to compliment or completely change the aesthetics of the existing cabin? What special amenities or design elements should be incorporated and what types of rooms, their sizes and the relationship to one another are considered.
Another critical step in initial stages is to assess the condition of the existing cabin structure, “the bones”. What type of foundation, if any, does the cabin rest on and what condition is it in? Does the cabin need updating to meet current codes and construction methods and can it support modifications or an addition? Are the plumbing, electrical or heating systems in good working condition or are they in need of an upgrade as well? Of course you are not expected to make these determinations on your own but a professional architect or contractor is qualified to assess and determine these very topics.
A subsequent step is to determine what zoning ordinances, regulations and local building codes your project will have to conform to. This will include things like what size of an addition or what maximum building height can be built. Determining if the existing cabin is conforming or nonconforming with current zoning regulations. Also checking what jurisdiction your property will fall under depends on the location of your property. In some instances you are just working with the city, county, or state however in some areas you might be working with all three.
If after assessing the conditions of the existing cabin you decide to tear down and start over the initial steps are similar. However, building new sometimes offers more flexibility in design, providing a variety of options to consider without having to contend with dilapidated building issues or system components.
Cost and budget are also major considerations when determining whether to remodel or build new. Remodeling cost per square foot can sometimes be more than building new because it can be more labor intensive to update and bring to current building standards.
There are many decisions that need to be made when deciding to remodel or build new. We highlighted some important steps to take and things to consider. In subsequent articles we will discuss how Architects can provide a vital role in helping to access existing structures and property conditions and also provide options to consider through collaborative design process. Describing in more detail what is involved when planning, designing, remodeling and or constructing a project. We will elaborate on types of Architectural Services, how to establish a project program, budget, and construction schedule. We’ll also identify other professionals that are critical to the project and what roles they will perform.
It might seem a bit overwhelming to take on this endeavor, however taking the right steps and considering your options along with great design can be an exciting and fun process that will provide lasting memories for current and future generations to come.