First Steps Towards Your New Home

McLean_front2-aWhether you are looking to upgrade your current home or decide that a new custom home is best for you, using the services of an experienced architect will benefit you in ways you may not expect. Even though all projects are unique, hiring an architect should save you time and money. They are able to minimize the bumps in the construction process, and give you clear view of the finished product before any construction begins. The first step always begins with the client’s needs. Identification of the scope of work is essential to beginning the design process. It is also important to know your limits, not only your financial limits but also your emotional attachment to the project.  Are you planning on staying in your home during construction? Is there an important time frame that requires the work to be done before a specific event like a birth or the holiday season? Are there certain elements of your home that you have to keep or ones that absolutely must go? These questions will help the architect meet your expectations.

Communication and preparation are the keys to getting your project off to a good start. The initial meeting between the client and the architect is where you will begin to see the possibilities of what your home could be. It is a good idea to email the basic ideas of your project to the architect before the meeting so everyone understands the scope prior to starting the project. You can have the architect meet you at the site so you can both walk through and discuss what you would like to do. This is a good opportunity to discuss options and ideas with the architect. You can look at sketches of what the architect envisions to get a sense of what the design would look like and get a better understanding of what is possible. When you decide move forward with an architect the real fun begins.

One of the first steps toward your new construction is to analyze the existing conditions. The building, site, neighborhood, and city are all points that will be thoroughly examined. Zoning and permitting are essential to getting a project completed. Knowing the zoning regulations before construction will save your project from costly mistakes. No one wants to tear down part of a newly constructed addition because it was built 1 foot over the setback line. Getting your permits through the approval process is also an area in which an architect’s expertise will prove very beneficial. Home owners associations and historical districts/buildings will bring their own regulations that must be followed and thought of before construction.  If you need an addition/renovation to an existing building, the as-built measurements must be taken. Then that information is put into 3D modeling computer software, and turned into the base for the new construction documents. This way we can be sure that the new construction will fit with the existing structure. Even if you have an old set of construction documents, the as-built structure may be slightly different.

These drawings will also be the base for the preliminary design options. You will meet with the architect to discuss possibilities based on your needs and the current conditions. It is important to get everyone involved in the project on board at this point so everyone is happy with the preliminary design. The architect will produce a set of drawings that will be used to get estimates from contractors and engineers. At this point you will have a good idea of what you can have built and how much it will cost.