In May of 2016 we started working on a very unique project that was referred to us by one of our real estate agents. The clients, Eric & Jean-Francois were both living abroad when they reached out. We've offered virtual design services before but this was very different. This referral had yet to close on the sale of a property that they were interested in when they contacted us but their goal was to complete a major renovation virtually. Our clients knew what they liked and absolutely wanted to create a home fit for them (both over 6' tall), even if that meant coordinating from half way across the world. Originally from Quebec, where they met and were married, they then both moved away for work; one in Switzerland and the other all the way in Saudi Arabia. They were buying a property with plans to finally reunite and move back to Montreal after several years abroad.
We started by completing a walk through of their prospective home via FaceTime at which point we threw around some ideas and confirmed that what they wanted to do would be feasible. That gave them the green light to go ahead and finalize their purchase. We discussed tearing down some key walls, redoing the kitchen and all of the bathrooms, redoing the divisions in the basement, and finally the addition of a family room, full bathroom and laundry room over the existing garage. We also ended up having to redo the garage entirely for it to structural support the extension, and we had to change the majority of the exterior brick, at which point the clients decided to redo the front entrance. The flooring, interior doors, staircase, railing and all hardware was changed throughout as well. To say it was a big project would be an understatement, not one square inch of the home was left untouched. The challenge was completing this scale of a renovation without even having met the homeowners.
So, we got right to work. We took our measurements, drafted construction plans, electrical plans, cabinetry details. We met with the contractor to get quotes and to set up a timeline, all while keeping the client in the loop via FaceTime and getting approvals on the design through countless emails. Finally the time came where we met our clients, probably a month after we started working on their project! They were in the city for only one week, and they had a lot on their agenda. We spent a day together for the presentation of their finishes. We reviewed plumbing fixtures, tiles, cabinetry, hardware, lighting and even paint colours. Everything was finalized in one - long but productive - consultation. Happy with the design, we moved forward to placing all of the orders and waiting for demo day!
The major hiccups in this project were delays with city permits pushing the project's start day by several months. Once we got over that hump, it was smooth sailing for the majority of the reno. We had weekly FaceTime meetings every Tuesday where we would show Eric the progress and review details. We worked closely with the contractor, HMR Construction, and we saw the renovation through right to the end.
The project was just recently completed this past March, nearly a year after it was started. It's bittersweet since after having worked with these amazing clients so closely, they will definitely be missed, however we are very happy to see it come to a close. Had we not had such understanding and easy going clients who were completely comfortable trusting us with their space, this project would not have gone nearly as smoothly. Eric & Jean-Francois are now happily living in their new home and we cannot be more thrilled with the results!
By: Eugenia Triandos
Photos by: Guillermo Castro