Within the first few meetings with your building designer, many areas will be discussed such as your ultimate goals for the project, your personal taste and lifestyle, and of course your budget. This information is what the designer will draw on for inspiration to create preliminary designs. You will find it helpful to gather family members and everyone who will be living with you, to do some initial homework around these topics.
Your Objectives and Ideas
Sometimes I find that my clients have an idea of what they want to create but may have different language they use to convey these ideas and as a result, these ideas may not be communicated as clearly as intended. The saying ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ applies here. This can be a fun way to involve everyone in the family by collecting articles, photos, product brochures, paint chips, etc. to convey ideas. I have also had clients share their boards on Pinterest and Ideas on Houzz that they have collected while planning their new home.
Setting your Priorities
As you collect your wish list of ideas, you will want to take into account the things about your current home that you like and don’t like. Make a ‘New’ list that includes things and conditions that you want or need in your new home and an ‘Old’ list which will include things and conditions about your present home that can remain the same.
Refining the List
Now that you have made your lists, you will want to prioritize them in order of their importance to your needs, desires, and budget. This may be more of a process than a final conclusion and reordering the list several times before you’re satisfied. This process will more clearly define your project goals effectively.
This can be beneficial if in the future you have a need to deviate from the original project goals because of budget constraints. Items at the bottom of the list can become discretionary items and as such having a smaller negative impact on your preferred design.
Alternately these items can become a future phase of construction when money is available. An example might be where structural accommodations are made for an addition; utilities can be run and capped so they will be easily accessed to tie in at a future date. This kind of planning will result in less demolition and expenses when this phase of the project begins.
Some questions you will want to consider when gathering ideas for your home:
• What style of home do you want?
• Do you need all rooms on one level?
• Do you need more storage or closet space? Over sized garage? More room for the family gathering? Larger Kitchen? Home Office?
• What kinds of space do you need? A Home office or Workshop? Sewing or Hobby room?
• Are outdoor spaces important to your family to expand living spaces, etc.? Front Porch/Lania?
• Is a low maintenance exterior important?
Helping our clients crystallize design objectives is important to a design professional. As the homeowners, you and your family are essential members of the design team as well. It is a collaboration that will result in years of comfort and pleasure and a living environment that will enrich your family lifestyle.
Establishing an outline and budget
Your designer will ask many questions initially. Try to keep an open mind as you work with your designer. New ideas or solutions may be presented that you haven’t considered.
All projects have to comply with applicable building codes within the community. This does not have to mean an ordinary home. An experienced and educated eye can offer creative solutions to unique design problems, using the best applicable technologies in the solution. Staying on a budget can be one of the most challenging aspects of any project. We’ve all heard the horror stories… This can happen due to underestimating or because something was overlooked completely. And sometimes it can be the result of decisions made during the construction process even with the awareness of the extra cost associated with the decision.
There are so many variables in construction that it is difficult to give preliminary estimates that are 100% accurate. With this in mind, it is often prudent to establish a contingency amount for each line item in the construction budget. In this way, you become aware of the potential cost overruns during design development and can make decisions accordingly. Once budgetary decisions have been made, a building designer can work to achieve the most value for the allowable budget
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My name is Judith Ann Koehn and I am the principal/designer for Ontwerpe Studio a Residential Design and Drafting firm. I am passionate about “good sustainable design” and with more than 20 years of experience designing small casitas to large custom homes, multi-family housing and many different kinds of remodeling projects I would be very comfortable helping you bring your next project to life.