Once the lot is under contract, design can begin. We ask our clients to enter into a Design Agreement with us at this stage, if we didn’t already enter into it during Lot Selection, and we take a deposit that is credited toward the construction of the home. Every one of the homes we build is custom designed. Even when clients come to us with an off-the-shelf plan for us to build, we find that after about 15 minutes of discussion, they actually want (or need) to change things up. By the time we’re done with most preconceived plans, the entire house is re-designed. This is custom building. This is what we do.
Because budget and design are intertwined, we ask our clients to strongly consider their budget at this point so we can design the appropriate home for their needs and their budget. Throughout the design process, we keep open communications with our clients when certain design changes affect pricing, and are clear when the design changes proposed involve upticks in pricing of the home. Not all changes create additional cost! We often provide our clients with ways to achieve their most important design goals by presenting them with cost-saving options to counter-balance up-charges.
For most clients, the idea of designing a home from scratch seems overwhelming. That’s why if you’re not clear on your vision we suggest you Google “home plans” as a start. It’s easier to point as something and say “I want that” than to imagine it in your mind and describe it verbally. We know that, so we provide you the tools you need to convey your ideas. Showing us what you like from a handful of plans is enough to get us started, and from there we can design your home in earnest.
Regardless of how clear your vision is when entering the design phase, it is our job to work with you to understand what you want and design that for you. If we thought we had all the answers and were God’s builders sent to earth to dole out our designs like so much manna, we wouldn’t be custom builders.
First, we listen. Then we ask questions and listen again. Rinse, repeat. Sprinkled in there are discussions of ideas, principles of design, whether or not to stick to conventions, benefits and challenges of your lot, your goals, wants, needs, desires. This is a conversation, not a lecture. We give homework (not a lot). We collect that homework and assign ourselves homework. Don’t worry, the only test is on us—whether or not we “got” what it is you want. Once we feel we’ve “studied” you enough, we begin designing the first floor. Working within the constraints of your lot with respect to ordinances, code, etc., we come up with the first floor for your review. This is seldom a 100% score, so we listen again and adjust things to make them right for you. To help us, we have 3-D walk-throughs that we can share so you not only get a top-down view, but a full feel for the scale of things as you virtually walk through the spaces we create. Once the first floor is fairly concrete, we move on to the second floor, then the basement, and the exterior elevations. Again, we design, present, then listen. Only when you’re fully happy with the design do we move on to the next step in the process: Engineering.
Our Design process is customized to your level of interest and time availability. If you’re building the home for resale, you may not want as much hands-on time. We get that. But if you’re going to live in it, we know you’ll want to spend the right amount of time understanding what it is we want to build you. We provide as little or as much detail as you want. It’s what we do.
At the completion of the Design phase, we ask our clients to enter into a Construction Agreement with us, where the final price of the home is formalized. Again we take another deposit that is credited toward home construction. Changes can still occur from this point on, and are handled with Change Orders. We want you to be happy with your home, and will accommodate changes as much as possible. There are points beyond which we cannot make changes. We’ll notify you as we approach these milestones.