You’ve recently decided to build your own custom home and can’t wait to get started with the home designer whom you’ve selected. Before you begin, however, there are four essential questions to ask your designer in order to better understand what you’re getting into and how you’ll work together to design the home of your dreams.
1. Ask About Past Projects
You may already have a specific architectural style in mind, but it’s important to find out if the designer has worked on similar projects in the past. Ask to see their portfolio of home designs to determine if they truly understand your goals for the project and have ability to create a house plan that suits your lifestyle. Find out more about their signature design style and what they love about it. Some designers may have a specific design sensibility but still may be able to adapt to different styles, while others may not. You need to make sure it’s the right fit for you.
“Hiring a designer who can help bring your dream home to life can be an exciting adventure, but it’s important that you do all of your due diligence before beginning the design process. Schedule interviews with prospective designers, narrow down your selection to two or three, interview them again and be sure to check their references,” explained Rick McAlexander, Prinicipal Designer at Associated Designs, Inc., a home design company based in Eugene, Ore.
2. Seek Out Their Approach
Similar to learning more about their design aesthetic is getting a sense of how they approach a project. Do they have a thorough understanding of your vision that they can articulate back to you? Can you discern their attention to detail in past projects? Have they been able to stay on time and budget with similar projects? Will they be able to recommend several contractors they’ve worked with who can then bring your home design to life? These types of questions are paramount to ensuring you get exactly what you want in a new custom home.
3. Inquire About the Design Process
Perhaps the most important question is asking your designer to explain the design process. You want to make sure they have an organized, step-by-step plan and timeline laid out clearly and concisely. Make sure they are clear about who will be working directly with you each step of the process. Determine how you will communicate with one another, especially as potential issues may arise along the way. Ask them to establish milestones so that you can track the progress and feel empowered and informed to step in as needed.
“Ask open-ended questions about both their approach and the design process so you feel confident they’re on the exact same page about what you want in your home and can deliver it,” said McAlexander. “Make sure they can see the big picture as well as all of the tiny details.”
4. Understand Their Fee Structure
To avoid any potential misunderstandings or surprises about “hidden costs” that could derail your entire project, make sure your designer expressly outlines the fee structure along with what services are included in the total cost and how you will be billed. Ask up front about additional costs associated with project scope changes throughout the process. Get everything clearly laid out in writing so that you can carefully manage the budget to design and build you custom home.
By asking questions in these four important areas and having everything well documented, you’re taking the right steps to guarantee a much smoother, exciting journey towards building your dream home.
As seen on PRUnderground