You are about to embark on a major voyage. The time and money that you are about to expend can be one of the largest investments that you will make. The goal is to design a special place for you and your family to enjoy for years to come. This is a complicated process that can be made simpler by a talented design professional with access to resources and knowledgeable answers to your questions.
Consider your finances and what you truly want to spend. Find professional designers and builders that have the experience to keep your project on budget. Being guarded about a budget is not the best idea and can leave a designer open ended on what you can afford. The upfront cost of a well thought out and detailed plan can and should be a part of the total building cost. A good designer should be able to design in such a way as to recoup the cost of the plans by helping determine appropriate building materials and methods, and reducing costly change orders or mistakes.
There have been many times throughout my career when a homeowner has decided not to use professional services because they thought the price was too much for drawings, not understanding the significance of the information provided on quality plans, only to show up 6 months or a year later asking if I would take over the design and construction documents.
I give out realistic timelines and clients do not always appreciate the amount of thought that has to go into a design. They hear from another that they can get it cheaper and quicker elsewhere and are disappointed when it is not complete and the plans are insufficient. There are some that work with inferior plans, or no plans at all, only to pay dearly in the construction process and when they are tasked with paying to maintain and heat there home or building.
A quality designer should be asking about budget from the very first day. They should be familiar with general prices of construction, and still understand that the systems, materials and finishes used will ultimately control more of the budget than what is first apparent. They should be willing to put in the time and effort to research alternatives and make suggestions that offer the best route to achieving your goals. A professional will know methods of building other than stick frame construction and be able to offer suggestions that may be better suited to project needs than conventional materials. If new systems are designed into the building, they should be well documented so that the contractor has enough information to be able to construct them properly. Newer materials and methods are more sensitive than older ones, although also more efficient and reliable when installed correctly.
Designers and builders should have a good understanding of building science and how things come together to create a healthy, low maintenance home. While the technology continues to evolve at a rapid rate, your team should appreciate the need for continued education on their part and have the resources to know where to get current solutions.
The builder, whether it be you or someone you hire, should understand that mistakes and changes are costly and be willing to contact the designer during the build with questions about alternatives that will remain true to the design intent. Your project should be the most important item on the checklist from 8-5, Monday through Friday and construction should follow a set schedule as closely as possible to ensure that subs that are scheduled out are not kept from getting in to do their work on time. Delays can be costly and it seems that the price of materials is always on the rise.
The goal is to complete your project on time and on budget, built with the best materials and craftsmanship that can be afforded and with results that are low maintenance.
Once you have the keys, there is another budget that should end up as expected. This is what it now costs to run and maintain your new building. Careful planning will help to achieve the lowest continued expenses possible, from utility bills to homeowner’s insurance. Even the most elaborate homes should have budgets and mindful planning is essential.