Sarah Susanka, architect and co-author with Marc Vassallo of the Not So Big House, says it took them a long time to work on their new book, Not So Big Remodeling, because of the complexity of the subject.
It’s easier for architects to work with a client on a new home, Susanka says, because for such projects the client’s scale of thinking is in rooms. In contrast, remodeling clients tend to focus on small details and identify specific solutions.
She hopes that her book helps readers to grasp that there is more to remodeling than the solution. “The solution is the end-point of the process,” she says, noting that the challenge for remodelers is when a homeowner comes to them with a solution — usually the most complicated and expensive — instead of working through the design to find the best fit for their lifestyle.
The book features 100 projects, and deliberately starts with a chapter about the remodel of the architect’s own home and ends with a chapter about the addition she designed for the same house. “I wanted to make sure people really grasped the small things you can do to make a house better and [ways to] rethink the existing house before I introduced the notion of how to add on,” she says.
In the book, Susanka includes checklists to help homeowners work through this incremental process.
The architect also urges readers to consider energy-efficient improvements when remodeling. “If everyone who reads this book does an energy audit, it could save so much energy,” Susanka says. She encourages homeowners to educate themselves about energy-saving options and to provide an auditor with their budget.
Susanka says that remodelers who understand and adhere to the “not so big house” principles should add their information to the online Home Professionals directory at www.notsobighouse.com.