So, now that we have covered some basics about where to start and what to expect from the beginning, let’s take a look at what the design process will look like, or could look like, with some modifications as needed.

The initial meeting

The initial meeting has traditionally been either at the designer’s office, or place of general meetings or at your current location of residence. As I said, this is generally the tradition, but as times have changed, so have meeting venues.

Online meetings can bring people closer than ever before, allowing more freedom in choosing the right designer for your project.

A Zoom meeting, or GoTo Meeting, or Face time, or even Skype can offer the virtual meeting space across long distances, making your choice of designer much broader and the designers clientele, much broader. This allows for meetings over long distances at a reduced cost, and offers each party more flexibility.

This meeting will be the meeting you bring information to. Your plot plan, deed restrictions, survey, etc. Anything regarding the land you want to build on. Refer to part 1 for information regarding what you should do and what you will need.

The designer should be very attentive to what you are sharing with him/her. You should bring any pictures, articles, product specifications that define the style and feel of your new home. More information is better than nothing at all. This doesn’t mean your designer will put it all into your home, but it does give them reference material on how you want your home built. They will take notes and refer to this information throughout the design process.

The initial meeting is also where any contracts are discussed and often signed. This contract/agreement will cover the scope of work expected from the designer and the responsibilities and pay schedule expected from the client. A down payment is usually made to start the project and a timetable for at least the preliminary plans will be agreed upon.

Should you decide that this is not the designer for you to use, or they decide that they are not the designer for you, there may be a fee for the time spent in the initial meeting. This should have been discussed prior to the meeting and should not be a surprise.

Starting the Preliminary drawings

This is a process. It may require a site visit before anything is started. This may be done right away, or, if it is a busy firm, it may be scheduled out. Either way, this is optional, depending on the circumstances and the designer or firm. A site visit is good, however, not always feasible or possible.

Preliminary drawings are to show you what the designers interpretation of all of the information is. They can include a myriad of drawings types, including things like 3D floor plans to help you visualize the layout better.

If the site is multiple hours away, there may be a separate fee for travel. This may make the site visit not feasible. In such a case, Google Earth can be a great resource. Any pictures you provide can also help. With today’s smartphone technology, you can do a video of your property and surrounding community, either live or shoot it and send it to the designer. (Live would be best, in case they have questions.) The purpose is to get a general sense of what can be built in the area and on the land. The foundation may change dramatically if the area you want to build on is a steep hill as opposed to flat ground, or if it is a wet area as opposed to a higher, dryer climate.

Some things that are taken into consideration are overall lay or slope, as discussed prior, Where the best views are, where the worst views are, how the sun travels across the property, what type of trees/foliage are there, what scenery is naturally available, how the wind and sun effect the land and so much more. These are details that will often decide things like the location and orientation of the house, any outdoor living spaces, outbuildings and even driveways.

This is where the survey or plot plan is required. The setbacks, sewer/water hookups and other site issues are discussed and considered.

Preliminary drawings

So, the designer has a lot of information to sort through. Ideas, pictures, site evaluations, etc. They will take that back and begin to interpret everything into a drawing. They will start with some concept sketches and move onto something they are ready to show you.

Often times the front elevation is included so that you can get a feel for the way the house will look, but sometimes a 3D rendering can be added to showcase any features that just do not show as well on a flat, 2D drawing.

Preliminary plans will generally be a layout of your floor plans and an idea of the front elevation. These should be detailed enough to allow you to see the basic sizes of each room and understand the flow. The elevation should give you a good idea of what the street face will look like.

At this point, these are a rough draft interpretation. They are for you to look at and decide if there are any changes that need to be made to the layout and flow. This also allows you to start choosing materials. Things like exterior finishes, flooring, colors, cabinets and countertops.

We will stop here for now and resume on our next blog post.

If you have started here, make sure to start at the beginning with Custom Home Design – Part 1

To see the post prior to this, check out Custom Home Design – Part 2


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