Most prospective homeowners have a good idea of what they want in a home, but they don’t necessarily know how to turn those ideas into a reality. This can make working with an architect with a bit of a challenge. After all, even the best architect isn’t trained to be a mind reader.
The best way for property owners to ensure that they wind up with a home that perfectly meets their needs and desires is to make sure that they make them clear to their designers. There’s no need to take courses in architectural design, but learning about what to expect and how to understand the process is a must. Read on to get started.
Many homeowners begin the brainstorming process before they even purchase a piece of property. Now is the time to start taking all of that inspiration and turning it into a form that can be shared with a designer so that it can be turned into a reality.
Start with a basic vision. During this phase of the brainstorming process, the budget shouldn’t be considered an issue. Instead, try to gather ideas about what the perfect house would look like if the cost wasn’t an issue.
It’s a good idea to start a scrapbook or a journal at this point in the process. Write down ideas, clip out photos from magazines, and consider taking a drive around the neighborhood to see what works and what doesn’t. Some future homeowners even attend open houses as a means of getting inside of a variety of homes to get a closer look.
Once a piece of property has been purchased and all of those ideas collected in the above step have had some time to sink in, it’s time to get organized. What was a brainstorming journal should now be switched over to a design notebook. Everything from a written budget to contact information for contractors can be written in this notebook so that it’s easier to keep track of all the necessary information and details.
Make a point of dividing the design notebook into different sections for easier navigation. This will make it easier for property owners to keep their thoughts straight as they begin meeting with their designers. Many property owners organize their design notebooks by room and even use color-coded tabs to mark pages for things like schematics and materials lists provided by designers or contractors.
Taking general ideas and turning them into a solid action plan often requires a good deal of time and effort. Make a point of keeping important considerations like who will be living in the house, what kind of space and privacy needs they will require, and whether there are specific building techniques that might come into play in mind.
Identify the essentials. Growing families will need extra bedrooms, for example, while they might only want to have space for an extra playroom or den. These essentials should be organized by room and written down in the design notebook.
Try to be as specific as possible. While a designer can certainly find a way to incorporate a kitchen island tastefully into the floor plan for that room, it won’t necessarily meet the homeowner’s expectations if one of them is thinking about built-in appliances and the other is assuming it will be a breakfast counter. Generally speaking, the more specific property owners can be regarding what features they want to have included in their homes, the more likely it is that the finished home design will meet their expectations.
Finding the right designer
All of the advanced planning in the world won’t make up for hiring the wrong architect. When seeking out an architectural consultant for a residential build, property owners should make a point of doing their due diligence.
Try to find an architect who has plenty of experience working on residential builds and, ideally, has plenty of experience working first-hand with property owners, themselves, to create unique and beautiful custom homes. Ask to see the architect’s portfolio of prior work and find out about his or her educational background and areas of specialty. The ideal architect will have plenty of experience working with different clients throughout the design process, beginning from land planning and ending with detailed interior design.
Keep in mind when interviewing potential candidates that communication is key. The professional chosen should be able to work effectively with his or her clients to ensure that they wind up plans that perfectly reflect their desires.
Ideally, he or she will offer to complete 3-D renderings of the future home so that the property owner can visualize what, exactly, the blueprints will produce. The right architect will also be willing to devote the necessary time to making changes and understanding his or her client’s needs.
Being open to change
If an architect suggests a potential change to a property owner’s design, there’s usually a good reason for it. Keep in mind that these professionals have tons of experience with residential builds, so they know what works and what doesn’t.
Property owners who are working on a budget can often consult their designers about alternative materials or stylistic choices that can produce similar results at lower prices. Keep in mind that if the right architect has been chosen, he or she will have had plenty of experience completing similar projects and any suggestions made will likely be backed by evidence.
The bottom line
Designing and building a custom home is a process. It requires a good deal of time, effort, and specialized skill. That doesn’t mean homeowners should just cut out a few pictures from magazines, bring them to a consultation, and assume that their architects will be able to gather every little detail from their general design preferences.
Homeowners, themselves, should play an active role in coming up with a design. They should get started researching styles, building materials, and unique features well in advance and should, at a minimum, be able to discuss these preferences. Along with choosing the right architect, advanced planning is one of the most important aspects of ensuring that a new custom residential build goes as smoothly as possible.