Custom Home Design – Property Details & Other Realities – Part 2. Interviewing clients for a custom home design, either by phone or in person, is an invaluable process of discovery and we at Wright Jenkins Home Design appreciate the details our customers reveal. The more information shared the better in our conversations, a much more effective way of communicating about how the way a family lives than an on-line or paper form! It’s worth noting that with the use of 3D drawing capabilities, it speeds up the whole process. Most of our clients meet with us long after the Preliminary Design Task has already been approved and we are deep into the CAD development phase.
In Custom Home Design blog Part 1, I said that we begin by discussing the customer’s budget and the property’s location and details where they will be building. I ask for a recent survey which should indicate the lot’s size, shape, easements, building & pool deck setbacks, target and crown of the road elevations and flood elevation information, where appropriate. All this tells us what the limits of the physical parameters or the footprint of the home can be as well as the appropriate foundation. Due to relatively high land cost in South Florida, more often than not we design homes right up to the setbacks, which is only one reason why an accurate, recent survey is indispensable. We certainly don’t want to design someone’s “Dream Home” only to have it altered to fit on the lot! Once we have the survey in hand, we call the zoning department once, then call again to confirm & corroborate the setback information. Yes, a zoning department employee has given me incorrect information over the phone, information they will not email.
Does the lot offer views that can be taken advantage of? If so, we want to provide this feature in as many rooms as possible. This is often exactly why a client opts for a custom designed home. No off the shelf product will ever be as suitable. If the home is on the water, will a dock or other boating access be in play? If the front door faces South, some customers opt for a courtyard home with a pool in the front yard.
Prior to getting further into the discovery process, I think it’s important to mention proper preparation for the initial meeting with your chosen home designer. I stated in Custom Home Design, Part 1, that most of our customers spend a considerable amount of time looking for examples of what they want before talking to a home designer or an architect. But that isn’t always so! In one initial client meeting, a wife who seldom looked up from her iPhone, dismissively said, “Everything he wants is fine with me, I just want X.” Only to then sigh loudly at every comment and suggestion her partner made. It got to the point, that I interrupted our meeting, requesting that we reconvene after they’ve had a chance to do some more homework and reach a consensus on the larger but basic design elements of their new home. Simple things like the number of bedrooms and who might sleep there for starters.
Balance Your Wishes with Realities
In another meeting a husband kept interrupting his wife, placing his hand in front of her face whenever she began saying something he did not like. I’m up for some good old fashion family therapy, but I am much more qualified to design the home! Designing a truly custom home for partners always involves balancing differing wishes and satisfying both. I often spend a considerable amount of time facilitating the discovery of what couples agree on or not. This is what Custom Design is all about. There’s a tremendous difference between an experienced custom home designer and a draftsman who prepares the CAD drawings.
In Part 3 of the Custom Home Design series we’ll delve deeper into the custom home design discovery process.