planning the design process

A design process begins with gathering information about and visiting the Building Site. Many of the project’s preliminary design cues come from “interpretations of” and “potential transformations” embedded in the building site. A building site has a voice, not unlike that of a client and the measure of that “opinion” should be taken throughout the design process. It is very difficult to do truly good work without a specific building site at the very beginning of a design process. So, we begin with The Site.

what is place?

A good design project is never merely a structure. It is a Place: cohesive landscape of imagery, function, and culture. Inspiration comes from the external lay of the land and from YOU and your opinions and lifestyle. There are no undistinguished places or people. As you consider your own site choices, reasonings and options, we would be pleased to review them with you as this is a very important decision…perhaps THE most important decision towards the creation of your custom home. Once we have had a chance to talk with you and visit your site, we will begin with a strong point of view regarding the possibilities for preserving, enhancing, denying, redefining or incorporating aspects of your site into our further discussions with and about You.

what you bring to the table

You will have preconceptions, likes, and dislikes we would like for you to share with us. These add up to your “design language”. Bring images of built work that you like and dislike. Bring images of color and texture that interest you. Talk about art and science you like and dislike. Articulate your fears and concerns and your goals. This is play time and “show and tell”. If you want to see some of our built work, we will be happy to take you on a visit. Just ask. It is often very helpful for us to visit you in your current home and hear your critique and commentary related to your spaces there.

technical needs, roadblocks and costs

Planning to begin a design process will also likely involve the acquisition of a full or partial topographical and lot line survey. These will typically vary from around $800- $2000 and we can help to arrange these services, if you wish. In addition, we will need to provide a thorough review of local Zoning and Land Use Regulations. We will also interview you and visit your site, with you, if possible and practical. Over the course of several discussions, we will come to understand you aesthetic, your habits, and your particular habitation needs, as well as your budget, and your timeline.

Money and schedules will, even with the best of planning, become a source of stress within larger projects. For planning  purposes, the construction costs for built work varies a great deal depending on material selections and construction complexities  and generally, our work is built for between $200- $450/ SF. We will help you narrow this down as our early discussions with you to prepare for the design process to continue. Our design time is billed at $80-100/ Hour and we typically establish a mutually agreed upon percentage basis for our fees very early on in the design process. We design to minimize unnecessary square footage, attending instead to higher quality materials and finish details.

Schedules can be another point of frustration. Ideally, the design process will span 4 seasons, but we also realize this may not be practical for some people. If you take and give time for moments of chance and brilliance, the process always yields better design. Time away from the table, for all parties, is often time very well spent. No project ever got better by hurrying.