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How we developed and realized the project with minimum involvement on the client’s side

A case study of the finished project: design, layout, technical detail, choice of contractor and assistance during renovation

An article on the entire process of project development and realization. We will tell about our approach and why it yields results.
Stage 1
Stage 2
Our client had a clear goal in mind: do a modern quality renovation to a new 1-room apartment for rent within optimal budget. Additionally, the client was based abroad, so they asked for minimum possible involvement.
Residential Complex New England, Mykhail Maxymovych str., 24, Kyiv
1 bedroom, 37 m2
1 month
Terms of project development
3 months
Standard project
Terms of renovation
Type of project
Original layout from developer (floor plan)
Stages of work
We offered our client our standard work plan which consists of 2 stages. Stage 1 – everything to do with project development. Stage 2 – choosing contractor and assistance during realization.

We thoroughly discussed each stage on Zoom-call. We made sure to inform our client on what is required at each stage and how much time each step would take. We discussed the ways of agreeing our actions, channels of communication and feedback to emerging questions.

We then worked by the following schedule:
A progress chart attached to the contract
Now we’ll specify each stage in more detail. Rather than going step by step we’ll highlight some key aspects.
Stage 1
1.1 Concept
General stylistics of the project was based on the given task as well as references to similar projects. We added some visualisations to ensure that the client shared our vision for the future renovation.
Such visualisations called one-day-projects need little time to create. At the same time an individual project will take much longer, while it is a more detailed and complicated task and the result is of higher quality. However, it wasn’t necessary for this project, just a simple visual to agree on the concept
The flat is done in light colours to visually enlarge the small area. We painted walls light-grey and went for white facades for the kitchen and cupboards. The colour palette is enriched with warm shades of wooden floors and some furniture pieces. This way we created fundamental interior with only two colours. Decor may be added to make highlights or create special atmosphere.
As soon as design was clarified we got to creating a set of drawings. Not wanting to deal with all the nuances, our client delegated this step entirely to us. In the process of development, we got back in touch only a couple of times to confirm some key features. Throughout the whole renovation we had several Zoom-calls about 30-40 minutes long.
Discussion of layout on Google Meet. During 4 months of renovation our client was staying abroad and inspected the flat in person only after its completion
1.2 Layout
Thanks to well done original design no remodelling was required, just a few touches regarding furniture arrangement.

The space of 37m2 is taken up by a kitchen-living room (19m2), a study on a joint loggia (11m2), a hallway and a bathroom. Due to its small size the bathroom posed the greatest challenge.

1.3 Storage spaces

We pay special attention to wardrobes. Though not obvious, they play a significant role in creating a sense of comfort. We didn’t miss the opportunity to set up wardrobes and drawers all over the flat and these were floor-to-ceiling. We put a full-sized wardrobe in the bedroom. One more for household supplies and another for outwear went into the loggia.

Bedroom wardrobe. Special attention to interior details. Shelves, drawers, rails and other
1.4 Kitchen
Convenience and usability lie at the heart of kitchen planning, which is achieved through a combination of many factors. Such a tiny kitchen (only 3 m2) should be thoroughly crafted.

For the sake of ergonomics, we outline the main areas and draft several layout options. We then agree on the most effective planning.

The main areas of our kitchen: refrigerator, sink, cutting area, cooking area. The arrangement is linear because kitchen’s space doesn’t allow for a central cooking island.
So here is our reasoning:

  1. Take the food out of the fridge.
  2. Put it in the area between the fridge and the sink.
  3. Wash and then cut it in the cutting area.
  4. Cook the food on the stove or in the oven.
This is how we arranged all areas. We did have to sacrifice some cooking area and opt for just 2 burners. However, this enabled us to provide a bigger cutting area of 800 mm.
Main kitchen areas: refrigerator, sink, cutting area, cooking area
To maximize storage capacity, we set up wall-cabinets up to the ceiling. Of course, an oven and a dishwasher are included in the plan. Although these appliances are inexpensive they contribute to a better quality of life, which is an obvious renting advantage.
The kitchen is small, but we squeezed the most out of the available space for storing dishes and other supplies
There is tiled floor in the kitchen. Unlike laminate floor in the rest of the flat except the bathroom, tiles are practical and durable. There is always risk of dropping something on the floor. Laminate would not take this well, however tiles are more resilient to damage.

Tiling and volume highlights on the wall and the ceiling zone out the space and visually separate kitchen from living room.

We opted for a round table since it is compact but at the same time has a bigger capacity and what’s more, it doesn’t disrupt traffic between the kitchen and the living room.
Round table, floor tiles in the kitchen area and space zoning
In the end, thanks to logics and attention to detail we have a full-scale kitchen fitted in the space available.
1.5 Workplace
A modern apartment must always have a study, which is a necessity not an option. An alcove at the window in the loggia was inviting of a desk. So we delivered.
1.6 Bathroom
«Bathroom was our true challenge. Its main problem was its tiny size, only 3.34 m2. And it had to fit a toilet, a wash basin, a washing machine, a water boiler, and a bath-tub.

We ended up choosing from several designs. Although we could save up some space by installing a shower stall instead of a tub, it would have been costlier and less effective. Particularly here, the budget was our priority, so we had to be creative. What helped us save more space was fixing the installation into the wall.

So now we have a comfy bathroom despite its size.»

Max Kolot founder
1.7 Lighting fixtures
We went for spotlights for the whole flat. They are very affordable (around $5), provide uniform illumination, and look stylish. We used built-in and overhead lamps to evenly zone out the place.

You can find IKEA wall lamps on the sides of the bed. We also secured LED lights for the counter and around the mirror in the bathroom, which is a standard solution.

«We didn’t involve our electrician and plumber engineers for this particular project as here it was a simple task. We managed our work with standard plans and layouts.»

Максим Колот founder
1.8 Finish materials and specifications

Flooring: tiling in the kitchen and bathroom, laminate floors in the rest of the flat

Walls: durable paint Sadolin EasyCare

Ceiling: stretching white matte ceiling

All materials and components are included in the project specifications indicating the name and amount for each point on the list. It simplifies purchases – contractor’s suppliers have a clear view of what is required and can respond faster.

Additionally, specifications cover project’s work scope, which will enable the contractor to quickly calculate the cost of refurbishment by taking the needed sums without having to calculate the wall area or the amount of tiling, sockets and so on. Everything is already covered.

We also add lists of specifications for customer-made furniture – kitchen, wardrobes, nightstands, and shelves. This information will be useful for the company that will design your furniture.

Such drawings will help you get quotes faster and will save you time when drafting your budget.
Detailed drawings of customized furniture based on which companies draft quotes
Results of Stage 1
1 month
5 Google Meet calls
Two payments by bank details
Terms of development
Number of calls
Stage 2
The project on its own is meaningless. It makes sense once it serves as guideline for renovation. That’s where the contractor steps up. They have to be properly selected and assisted throughout their work. More on that now.
2.1 Choosing contractor
Renovation in this flat was entrusted to Buildburo.

«I am Buildburo cofounder, so choosing a contractor wasn’t hard. However, this option is only available in Kyiv. For other cities and countries we have developed an algorithm to carry out a tender that will help you find the best possible team.»

Максим Колот founder
In practice this means we draft a set of documents and collect offers from a number of pre-selected contractors based in your area. We organize a Zoom-meeting to confirm that the company will handle the project.

With years of experience under our belt we know what type of comfortable and less so questions to ask, what criteria to rely on. At the end of the tender our client receives a summary of each contractor with prices, deadlines, pros and cons as well as our own feedback.

Often enough the client already knows the right people for the job. But if required we hold a full-scale tender.
A comparison chart on the contractors (example)
2.2 Assistance during renovation
There is a useful though not very common technique. Before renovation begins we have a lengthy Zoom-call with the crew to discuss every page of the project. This can go on for hours, but eventually the contractor gets fully informed of what is expected of them. Furthermore, the contractor may come up with innovative solutions while on-site, which we’ll gladly discuss and help implement.

«The case in point here is to resolve 99% of issues before renovation starts. As the main rule of risk management suggests it’s better to prevent mistakes from happening rather than deal with their consequences.»

Максим Колот founder
We also consult the contractor regarding the estimate. It is worth establishing a fixed budget immediately without having to revise it over and over again.
Estimate (example)
For this project our crew and us were physically in the same city. However, this didn’t prevent us from conducting our meetings remotely to compare notes. All it takes is a Zoom link, same page of the project, a fruitful discussion.

We would have weekly calls to register:

  • The current status
  • Works completed the week before
  • A plan for the week ahead
  • Issues and questions
«Project Manager is in charge of communications during project development and completion. This person coordinates team work, communicates with suppliers and contractors on behalf of the studio. They have all information about the project so it’s easier to channel the tasks through them on the principle of a single point of contact. »

Максим Колот founder
In case we assist a project say in Warsaw while being in Kyiv, the number of Zoom-calls can enlarge but this isn’t an issue.

Our drawings are made specifically for the crew. Since chances they attended the building academies are slim, we make sure to provide simple and understandable guidelines with full technical detail.
Examples of drawings from the project

Results of Stage 2
3 months
12 on Google Meet
Over 50 short phone calls
3-5 video calls and reports in Telegram chat
Terms of renovation
Number of calls with contractor
Number of calls with client
At the end of 4 months of work we had a modern 1-room apartment which was rented out on the same day with 25% mark-up above the average price for the area.
Final result:
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