The Proper ApproachTimeless. Genuine. Smart. Better. By Design.
Some clients have very clear ideas of what they want in their home. With countless hours spent combing through books and magazines, compiling volumes of notebooks filled with torn pages, photos, and notes, they have largely built their home in their imagination dozens of times over. Other clients have more general ideas, but can't quite express in words the full nature of what they would like to see. Wherever you may fall between the two, the first step in the design process is to sit down and discuss your thoughts and ideas.
This is your home. To approach this properly, we will start by compiling a list of all those things specific to your project - the must-haves and the would-like-to-haves - that are most important to you. Once this list is established, we can then review and refine it with an eye toward budgetary constraints or structural issues. We may have to make some hard choices as to what stays or goes, but by discussing these things early on we will establish a clear path for the project. Out of these discussions, we should have clearly defined the goals and priorities. These will be defined in written form on our Scope Of Work Agreement.
To begin the design process, if your project is a renovation or addition, we will start by taking any necessary measurements. (For obvious reasons, if the project is a new home, the measurement step will not be necessary.) From these measurements, preliminary drawings will be produced. These will be forwarded to you in either PDF format via e-mail or with printed copies mailed or delivered. Following your review and comment, the appropriate revisions will be made. Once you have given your consent to proceed, we will move to the Final Construction Drawings Phase and delivery of your completed plans.
Once The Dust Is Flying…
The following points are observations I’ve made during my career in the residential construction industry. While these are directed more toward the client-contractor relationship than my (designer) relationship with you (the client), they are included here to better prepare you for what to expect when the dust starts flying.
With so many people coming together and so many components involved to complete your project, things may feel a little overwhelming at times. It's natural that, at times, your construction project could cause a fair amount of friction or stress. The trick is for everyone to handle it properly. It doesn't have to be stressful. You should be excited and able to enjoy the project from beginning to end. There will almost certainly be times during your project where things have gone slightly astray. As long as the lines of communication between all involved are strong, most problems can be handled amicably and effectively.
Stay on top of things. This is directed toward all involved. Being reliable and staying on top of things helps everyone. Trades need answers from the contractor who needs selections from the client. The circle of information can get out of hand pretty quickly. It's your role as the client to provide all of the answers needed in a timely manner. Don't be afraid to ask if anyone is waiting on answers from you. Being proactive will likely place you on your contractor's short list of favorite clients.
Be thorough and timely with your selections. It's easy to lose sight of why so many selections are needed so early. You could easily be selecting items that impact the rough-ins of many trades on your job. Imagine that your plumbing contractor is waiting for very specific information to wrap up the rough-in installation. He's done just about all he can do and is trying to keep his crew busy. Without the answers, he may find himself running out of things for them to do. The next step for him may be to move the crew to another job until the answers are made available. The problem for you (the Client) and the contractor comes when that trade may not be immediately available to come back. Situations like this impact construction schedules every day.
It can't be said enough - Communication Is Key. This is as important in selecting your designer as it is in selecting your contractor as it is in completing the project. Establishing strong, open lines of communication is essential throughout. It seems simple enough, but all need to be reminded of it occasionally.