Monthly Archives: June 2018

Meeting With Your New Home Designer

Meeting your new home designer is the first step you can take in your journey of building a custom designed home. It’s exciting – are you excited? You should be! This is your chance to relay all of the exciting ideas you have about your dream home. This meeting is all about you you you. So how can you have a really successful meeting and give yourself the best opportunity for your home design to be as close to what you wanted, the first time round.

Tip 1 – Be Yourself

I know some of you are thinking, “who else would I be”? But you would be surprised at how many people sit in their design meeting acting like they’re attending a funeral instead of taking one of the most exciting steps life has to offer. Relax. Great home designers know what it’s like to bring your dreams to the table, they are tasked with the responsibility of delivering it.

If this is the first time you’ll be building a million dollar home, don’t think you have to act like a millionaire (or what you think millionaires might be like – some people will be surprised to find out they’re often very common). If you are yourself the home designer will get to know you, and more about what you’re like which will give them the best opportunity to putting your personality into your new house.

Tip 2 – Be Brutally Honest

If you like sex in the hallway, then tell us and we’ll make sure that hallway is the best damned hallway to have sex in. You need to be brutally honest with your lifestyle and what is most important to you. Communicating your lifestyle is the biggest challenge for most people as they may not want to draw attention to aspects of their life or perhaps they think something may just be common sense. Don’t assume that the person sitting across the table thinks like you, walks like you, talks like you or has the same values. If you love teddy bears and need additional room in the bedroom for your 101 teddies, then say it. If you’re sporty and want a gym with mirrors on the walls, then say it. If you’re an enthusiast photographer and will use one of the bedrooms as a dark room then say it.

All of the above are examples that I’ve come across during my time as a custom home builder. What’s more, the items that were being discussed had to be coaxed out of the home buyers over time. More importantly, we modified the design to suit which gave them a far better outcome than they would have got had they not told us. We changed window heights in the hallway (in fact, we did a lot of adjustments through the entire house!). We created teddy niches in the bedroom, we removed skirting boards in the gym and added a TV and power outlet point in one corner at 2.0m high and we switched the window in the dark room to the south side of the house to avoid the sun but still give enough ventilation.

Tip 3 – Enjoy The Process

Remember this is your time, relax and enjoy yourself. Make jokes and get to know the people sitting opposite you on the table. You’ll find the more comfortable you feel with your designer, the more information will flow during your design brief and the better your home will be.

Benefits of a Universal Home Design

A universal home design is a growing concept in house planning and construction that provides for changes that can occur in living such as disability issues, aging and general accessibility for everyone. Many homes today are built with the idea that no matter who the occupant is, the living spaces within as well as outside the home, should be readily used by just about anyone. A growing number of home designers, builders and contractors are embracing this concept as the baby boomer population ages and a new wave of disabled or elderly home occupants emerge.

Here are some of the best benefits of a universal home design:

Home values

If you decide to use a universal home design to build your new home, you can expect your house to be worth more at the outset than another home of similar square footage and amenities, but that is not built from a universal design. The reason is that a universally designed house is more appealing to all segments of the population because of its practicality and usability for everyone. Universally designed homes are easier to sell and acrue in value more readily.

Good planning for the future

For those who plan on living in their homes until they die, this type of house design is excellent because it will accommodate occupants in any change of life. If an occupant becomes suddenly disabled or eventually must have certain handicap amenities in areas like the bathroom due to aging issues, this design allows for changes in life that are bound to occur.

Important design elements

There are many elements of design that go into a universal home, but several of the most important are constructed into the bathroom area, kitchen, hallways and the construction level of the home. The bathroom is perhaps one of the most important areas of the home, as it is designed to be accessible by combining within the design some handicap requirements. Wider doorways for wheelchair accessiblity, nonslip flooring, wet room style spaciousness and open shower areas are just some of the common features for a handicap bath area that can be enjoyed by all.

Exploring Slow Home Design

What is slow home design? Basically, it is the principle of slowing down to design homes and spaces that are sustainable, practical and functional.

The slow home movement began in 2006 when John Brown, Matthew North, and Carina van Olm wanted to create a “critical response to the poor design practices that pervade the mass housing industry. Our intent is to advocate for a more thoughtful approach to residential design that improves the quality of our daily lives and reduces our impact on the environment”. Slow home design strives for a more “considered, calm and intuitive” approach to residential design. The concept is to use well-considered design principles to create smaller homes that will be both environmentally sustainable and literally so, in the sense of being built to endure. The practice also includes remodels of existing, appropriately sized older homes that need updating.

Brown says in an interview with The Chicago Tribune that a slow home is “reasonably sized and carefully designed to support its occupants. It might have an entry where family members can easily take off their boots, stash their keys and store their backpacks, for example. It might have a living space that encourages people to talk or read, not just watch television or surf the Internet. It’s energy efficient, filled with natural light and designed for easy flow among rooms and access to the outside.”

North, in this interview with The Calgary Herald says, “I think the boom of the big-house era is coming to an end. So those houses will be less desirable and valuable as time goes on. Expect a shift to smaller, more energy-efficient homes, North says, and a move away from homes on the fringes of cities. A decade ago, a 5,000-sq.-ft. home sounded like a dream to some. These days, that much square footage sounds like a noose around your neck. There’s uncertainty about the energy cost to heat your house.”

Slowing down to design a space that is functional, long-lasting, meets the needs of the family now and later, and is, of course, stylish and comfortable – that’s the aim of the slow home movement.

But even if you are not starting from scratch, you can still join in living a slow home lifestyle. Re-work your rooms to make sure that they are functional for your family’s everyday living. Instead of purchasing a new piece of furniture, look for family hand-me-downs or thrift store finds to re-purpose. Organize your kitchen, bathroom, closets and office using bins, jars, boxes and dishes that you already own but rarely use. Make the stuff in your home work for you and create a stylish and comfortable space that you will be happy with every day and for years to come.

What Is Involved In Getting Custom Home Design

The first order of business is purchasing a lot. A truly custom home design is specifically designed for the lot it sits on. Please read EzineArticles online article “Buying a Lot to Get a Custom Home Designed” for what to consider. A survey will be needed before the custom home design can begin. If it is an older property there should be one in the closing documents.

Now there is some home design homework to do even before purchasing a lot. You have to know what you desire in the home and what the footage goal is to know what size the lot has to be.

This homework is the first step in the house design. No matter how talented the designer they are dependent on you for it to be a custom design with communication being the key. So do not be shy about providing whatever you have accumulated or generated whether it be pictures, notes, spreadsheets or anything else that helps present what you want. Whether you provide a lot of material or none at all though it is the designers responsibility to discuss anything relevant to the project.

The initial design conference meeting(s) will be to completely define your dream home.

The footage will determine the cost more than anything else and should be the first consideration. How many stories and what exterior style and finish material needs to be defined. Each room should be discussed to determine the size, raised ceilings, flooring or any other features. The first factor in determining room locations is what view they will have. If there is a stunning rear view only so many rooms can take advantage of then these rooms need to be defined. A stairs if any often has expectations that go with it whether it is the railing, finish or location. If it is viewed as more of a functional need then a location requiring less expense in finishing than a foyer might be considered. Will the house be open concept so that the family room, breakfast and kitchen are open to each other. All aspects of the kitchen should be defined. Especially if there will be an island and all appliances and their locations. It is often helpful to know what the current kitchen cabinet footage is to ensure equal or greater cabinet footage. Does there need to be a private desk area off the kitchen for paying bills. Would a backpack, hobby or sports storage area with cabinets off the garage be helpful. All features of the utility room including a built in ironing board need to be considered. If there is a pool does there need to be a pool bath or can the powder room be located near the rear. Is the master bath to be more functional or luxurious or something in between. How many bathrooms. Will there be a game room, study, hobby room or other rooms not considered a given. Are art niches or ledges desired. This is a minimum necessary to start a design drawing.

If the due diligence has not been this thorough then there is a good chance you will not get your dream home design. No matter how creative it is if it is not what you imagined then it is a failed design. I am not suggesting taking away creative freedom only that any expectations have to be communicated. Make sure the designer is asking all the right questions or make sure you volunteer them. Alternatively just consider another designer because it is hard to correct a design that heads down the wrong path.

Only when the scope of the design has been completely defined should the design drawing begin. The primary goal should be to meet the design criteria in the most space efficient way possible while being creative.

The next meeting will be to review the preliminary design which typically consist of the floor plans without all the construction details, the front elevation and the plot plan showing the house located on the lot.

This is the first time to really know if you are on the same page as your designer. That is why the due diligence was so critical. Hopefully any revisions will be minimal but most importantly none will cause a compromise to the design. Sometimes even with all the necessary communication the design is still not what was expected. Unfortunately this is often do to the designer substituting their preferences. That is another reason to define what is expected. If it was discussed there is no excuse that it was never communicated. Stand your ground even if it means starting the design over.

A designer has a responsibility to a client to inform them if they think they are making a mistake. Once the client knows why you are concerned hopefully they will agree. It is never acceptable to just ignore a clients wishes or substitute your own preferences.

This preliminary design meeting is also the time to discuss in depth details like lighting, cabinet styles and finishes if it has not been done. If the revisions are such that it would be prudent to review the preliminary again once they are done that would be the next step. If any revisions are minor then the design is ready to be finalized.

The next meeting will be to review the finalized drawings. Expect to see floor plans with the electrical outlets and switches or separate electrical plans, interior elevations (cabinet and other views), exterior elevations, cross sections if necessary (always on two or three story), form plan, roof plan and plot plan. The plans need to meet the appropriate codes, ordinances and subdivision restrictions where it will be built.

Once any revisions are completed construction sets can be run. Additionally the foundation and structural should be engineered.

So to review the design process since it might seem intimidating or overwhelming, design conference meeting(s), preliminary design meeting, finalized design meeting and construction sets. Seems less so hopefully. Primarily it is that there are so many decisions to make. So do yourself a favor and do your homework so you have fewer to make all at once. Also plan ahead and allow a proper amount of time for the design process. It can vary considerably based on the designer and the market but two months at a minimum and preferably three months. The most stress comes from waiting until you are ready to move to start the process and then being anxious throughout. When someone says “I wish I had considered” it is usually because there was not proper time for discussion or review. Most people hope to live in and enjoy their dream home for the rest of their lives so devote the short time necessary through the design process to help that happen.