In last month’s blog post I talked all about the beginning steps of building your dream home. Mainly how to find a lot to build on and some things to consider before you start the design process. In case you missed it, you can read the post here.
We already accomplished the first step which was programming. In this step, we found our lot, took into account the surrounding area and sun path, and wrote down what we had to have in the house.
Today we are going to go over the next three steps-schematic design, design development, and construction documents.
The second step of any design project is known as the schematic design phase. This is just a fancy way of saying we are going to look at different design directions this project could take. You should consider different floor plans, color palettes, and potential finishes.
For our house, I put together a concept board (see below) to convey the feeling of the house. We knew we wanted our house to feel light and airy and lean towards more of a coastal design since we are near the beach.
Looking at those photos allowed me to really narrow down what we were drawn to. We obviously liked light color floors, lots of light, and a comfortable homey feel.
Once we narrowed down the final concept of the house, I dove into the next step which is construction documents . Construction documents are what your builder is going to need to submit for permits to have your house built. Most custom home builders have plans from previous houses they’ve built that you can use. However, in my opinion, that’s not really a true custom home.
To get a true custom home, you need to make the house specific to your needs and what you’re looking for. You can certainly take a floor plan of house you like and then customize it to your needs. Or you can hire an architect to start from scratch.
In our case, we took an existing house plan that we liked and then moved things around to make it more suitable for our family. It was important that we got the overall floor plan nailed down so we could file for permits and get approval from our HOA.
Like any project, budget was a concern here. As we were working on the overall floor plan we knew the general size we wanted and had a price in mind where we wanted to stay at. And of course we went over budget! We had set our budget low in the beginning knowing we would probably end up going over. We ended up building a bigger house than we had originally anticipated. Is it more house than we will need in a few years? Probably. But we plan on living in the house for a long time so we are trying to anticipate what we need now and what we might need in the future.
Another thing we were not anticipating was having to raise the foundation of the house up 6 feet above the ground to account for being in a flood zone. I always hate spending money on things that aren’t “pretty” but sometimes you just have to suck it up and do it. Not to mention, this will lower our flood insurance dramatically so the raised foundation will basically pay for itself in a few years.
So now that the basic floor plan has been decided on, permits have been approved, the fun can begin! While my builder is busy getting the foundation built, I started working on the final design of the house.
The next step is working on the design of the house. This phase is known as design development in my world! One thing I always recommend is creating mood boards for each space. You want to create an overall color palette for the house and stick to that when designing. This helps to create a cohesive design scheme
Here is a mood board I created for our 1/2 bath. I did one of these for each room in the house to make sure that the design scheme stays cohesive!
When creating the mood boards, remember when you add photos to also add links to the products and where you are thinking of putting it. You don’t want to add something and then a few weeks later forget where you were going to use it!
You’ll also want to find an inspiration image for the major spaces you are designing. Pick ONE kitchen that you like and really look at the details that you are drawn to. Maybe it’s the color of the cabinets or some funky lighting.
This photo can serve as your jumping off point for the design!
This next point I can’t stress enough! ORDER SAMPLES!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s worth paying the few bucks that it cost to get some tile or wallpaper sent to your house. I can’t tell you how many times I see something online that I think is going to work great, only to get the sample and realize it looks nothing at all like the photo online!
Samples also serve as a good visual reminder of the direction you are heading in. Find a spot in your house where you can keep them all laid out
Another thing to get samples of is paint. Samplize is a great resource for this. You can order large format paint samples that are actually painted on and not computer generated. This is especially important if you are doing anything with white. There are so many different undertones of white so you really need to get samples.
I’m a visual person, so it always helps me to have a 3D rendering of the space so I can “see” what it’s going to look like. Below is a rendering I did for our 1/2 bath. They are especially useful when deciding which direction to head in. It’s a service I provide for my full service design clients.
So there you have it. These three phases of the project really help to nail down the overall design of the house. That doesn’t mean things won’t change along the way. Next I am going to walk you through how your design scheme and floor plan will evolve as the house is being built.
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