A good home design should take into account the most efficient use of space and be fit to the lifestyle of the end-user as well as having a great proportional aesthetic exterior. Many of our custom home design clients get hung up on price per square foot numbers when building a house.
The theory is that if a house is too expensive then the natural reaction would be to make the home smaller. I can agree with this theory to a point and then I think it’s just hooey. I used to say that there are two ways to save money on building a house, square footage and specification levels, but now I have learned a few more ways to save money while building a new home.
This is where having a good design firm pays off. Designing a custom home should be just that, custom. A potential client should be prepared to tell their designer not only what style home they are looking for but how they plan to use the space. If the residential designer doesn’t ask you questions about your family size, whether you like to entertain large gatherings, how many vehicles you have, is this a primary residence, and the most important question how long do you plan to live at this residence, then you will not get a custom home. With these basic questions left unanswered the design process can be disastrous.
A good design firm should get to know their client’s personality and offer up traffic patterns in the floor plan that match the client’s lifestyle. When thinking about designing a home a client should begin by taking pictures or finding items in magazines as to convey their tastes to a designer. I personally never design a home unless I can walk the lot with the client first. I also like to see the home that they are currently living in and how they use the space. This holds key pieces of information as we are creatures of habit. If a client tells me that they saw a picture of a fireplace in a Master Bedroom that they liked but they currently don’t have this in their house now. Chances are this feature will never be used so I feel that it is my responsibility to discuss the pros and cons of these type features. I personally do not promote that my clients or even the builders that I work with, ever tell a client to go find an on-line or magazine plan to get started.
This is an exercise in futility for a custom home client. This process can consume a tremendous amount of time and leave the client feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. On-line or magazine plan books are designed to appeal to masses of people that want to build a nice house, but not a custom house. As there are many great plans and designers to choose from in this avenue of the home design business, this is not a custom home. These may be used for a client to try to hone their likes and dislikes but don’t bring a magazine plan to a custom designer and ask them to fix it to fit your needs. One, that would be copyright infringement to the plan book designer and two, it would be handcuffing your custom home designer’s creativeness. An analogy that fits is that a person that would like a custom motorcycle is not going to shop at the local Harley Davidson dealership. Though the Harley Davidson dealership has plenty of great bikes, that person is going to find a custom fabrication shop and is going to tell the bike designer exactly what they want and have the bike fit to their personality.
When a home is custom designed to fit a client’s needs you will find that there is very little wasted space, maximizing the use of the square footage is a huge plus. Next the plan must be designed in a way to maximize the building materials to prevent waste. Your designer will have to have a good knowledge of construction practices to achieve the maximum use of the building materials. This is where I differ on the just reduce the square footage theory.
Say the house comes in a little too big and the builder suggests taking 6″-12″ out of each room to bring the square footage down. This sounds like a great idea but did it save you any money? That all depends on the floor plan dimensions. More than likely this will just result in more cutting and wasting of building material. Remember the home owner is paying for the material so if I told you that you could have a room that was sixteen feet wide or fifteen feet wide for the same amount of material, which would you want?
If you are in the market for a custom built home or if you are living in a home that has rooms that you never use call KDH Residential Designs and we can help you end your frustrations. Maximize your custom home purchase by creating a knowledgeable team around your project. Whether you have a builder or need to meet a few builders give us a call. 704-909-2755 to set up a consultation. We are also looking for builders that would like to bring their building costs down in order to be more competitive in their markets by working smarter rather than harder.