Building your dream can be a great adventure. Design is an exciting, creative process, and there is nothing quite like seeing your vision take shape. At the same time, tales of cost overruns, construction delays, and complex zoning and building code requirements can be enough to send anyone running to the nearest subdivision.
To help overcome these concerns, we suggest jump-starting your project with a “discovery phase”. A pre-project consultation with an architect and contractor team can help gain an overview of the design and construction process, evaluate potential properties, develop a scope of work and budget, and come up with a strategy for how to proceed.
Some tips include:
Start with the big picture: Come up with a list of priorities—both quantitative and qualitative–then talk to architects, contractors, and friends who’ve been through the process about what to expect.
Think big; build small: Minimize environmental impact and maximize your investment by building less space that meets your needs exceptionally well. Is a bland ‘bonus room’ more important than high quality materials or careful siting? At $30,000, is that extra guest room really worth it when you can put Aunt Marge up at a nice hotel for far less?
Take a team approach: Hire people you trust who will work well with you and each other. Every project encounters obstacles; they’ll be a lot easier to negotiate if everyone starts on the same page and communicates well.
Think long term; Plan for change: Consider how your needs will change over time and look for ways to avoid boxing yourself in. Could the kids’ bedroom become an office when you retire? What would it take to convert the garage to a studio or workshop?
Enjoy the ride: Building a home can be an adventure in itself if you believe that getting there is half the fun. The design-construction process should be more than a means to an end. It can be a once-in-a-life chance to express your creativity and shape how you live.