THE DESIGNER’S VISION SHOULD BEGIN WITH THE CLIENT’S VISION
Every great design begins with a well thought out design “Program”. In the world of residential architecture, “The Program” is the list of elements, features and functions that you want in your home. For example a common current first floor Program for a remodel is:” Master suite on the first floor, with walk-in closet, and large spa like bathroom.” The common kitchen area Program is the kitchen and family room or dining room being made contiguous.
We want to define how it is that you see life occurring in your home in your ideal world. We want to design according to what will improve and impact the quality of your life. The first thing that you have to do to develop your program is the same thing that you do when you make any expensive purchase; That is determine what it is that is driving your need to have this improved environment and what is the primary benefit you want to gain from it. It may be a simple as; ” I can not stand the light in this house”, or “we need more privacy and our own bath and space away from the kids”, or “the kitchen is just too dark and dreary”. It is statements like this that we are looking for, what is really bugging you about life in your home currently. A key reason to develop a good program is that it provides focus and a reference point for you to return to over and over again to make sure that your design enables your lifestyle objectives. This is critical. Working with a design professional who is a good listener is key. Make sure you feel secure in the sense that the designer is passionate about helping understand what you want and on helping you get there. Much like doctors, design professionals need to take note of all the “symptoms” before they prescribe a course of action.
THE DESIGN PROCESS IS EVOLUTIONARY; “THE 55-85-95 RULE”
Stated simply, each design begins with concept sketches that lack detail but help organize the wish list. In some cases, it takes more than one concept drawing phase to nail the concept. The designs then evolves to larger scale architectural drawings that are more detailed and clearly define all of the spaces, their dimensions, and their major features. Finally, the process proceeds to construction drawings, in which special details are developed and incorporated into the design. Custom designs should begin with fuzzy sketches that capture the concept of the plan and the feel of the architecture, then evolve into more defined hard-line architecturals, and finally into construction drawings. As the design evolves it will fit your needs better and better and will start to become indelibly “yours.” Manage your expectations with the “55-85-95 rule” Consider that the concept drawings should be 55% on target – they leave room for a lot of refinement. The architectural drawings should be 85% on target. As you move into the actual construction drawings, the design is refined to the point of being “right on target,” about 95%. And, frankly, the last 5% of the evolution takes place with final refinements during construction. The wonderful benefit of designing a custom remodeling project is that you have an opportunity to take that journey and really polish your vision and dreams. Luxuriate in that opportunity, and don’t let it frustrate you!
A GREAT DESIGN SATISFIES REAL NEEDS
Not only should your design meet your personal needs, it is imperative the design considers your financial comfort level as well. If the design can’t be built within budget, it likely won’t be built at all. A good design process includes estimating the construction cost at every phase of evolution. At first, in the concept stage, the estimate is as “fuzzy” or preliminary and needing refinement as the drawings, since the building is not yet completely defined. We usually provide a range at this point, the higher end being something we are always designing to stay below. As the design evolves into future phases, the estimate, like the design, will get tighter and more accurate inside of that range. Each iteration of the design is an opportunity to get closer to your budget. The Design/Build team is your best possible resource in this process, developing estimates and ideas and presenting you with options and relative merits of those options and all the many and myriad components and aspects at every design evolution. Like that last 5% of the design that evolves during construction, you should leave yourself some contingency funds to account for changes that you make during construction as well.
THE FATE OF GREAT DESIGN RESTS IN MANY EXTERNAL FACTORS
Many other factors affect the outcome of your design process. Make certain that you learn of and communicate all restrictions on your home to your design professional. Your ability to obtain appropriate financing is a key factor as well. It’s a good idea to speak with your banker or a mortgage broker before beginning the process to get a firm handle on how much remodeling you can realistically afford. Surprises in that area can send you rushing back to the drawing boards late in the process as well.
HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?
At Cosentini Construction, our Design/Build process incorporates all of the elements described above into a straightforward program that has you and your life at its core. We are proud of our design excellence and our Design/Build process. It should be an additional assurance for you to know clearly that our income is generated only from construction, so our entire design process is focused on you and getting the job done well in order that your vision and dreams become a reality.
The Design/Build Process used in part with permission from DeckHouse Inc.