Courtesy of Amy Fischer
Engaging a team of three experts - architect, general contractor and interior designer - is essential to creating a custom dream home.
When building a custom home, a design-build team is invaluable in protecting your investment.
A team of specialists approaching every angle of collaborative strategic planning on your behalf will ultimately serve as your insurance in better achieving aggressive budgets on a timely schedule. A home built with quality craftsmanship and attention to detail will stand the test of time and allow you peace of mind in the event of resale.
Securing a team of professionals to guide you in the early stages of the development process is critical. It is important to identify and understand the value of your team players before you embark on building your dream home.
The construction development team approach can be thought of as a tripod, with each leg an independent specialist: architect, general contractor and interior designer. These professionals need not be one source, and often it is in your best interest that they are not to ensure maximum creative potential.
Each leg of the tripod offers specific expertise for guidance in making educated decisions. The balanced foundation effect is established with multifaceted viewpoints, experience and qualified direction so that the homeowner may proceed with confidence.
The tripod approach
Architect: The architect produces the floor plan that will accommodate your life functions and designs a home with consistent styling. Included in the architectural development are site studies, planning and zoning approvals, and building-needs assessment. Often architects will follow a project throughout construction to assist with detailing and guidance as necessary.
General contractor: The general contractor serves as the macro-coordinator responsible for the everyday operations of the construction site as well as all communication and management of the supporting trades. An experienced contractor will direct a project using a diligently maintained schedule and budget that includes fixed costs and finish-material allowance costs.
Interior designer: Designers specializing in interiors may more sensitively evaluate a homeowner’s personal needs, including lifestyle-specific space planning, acoustics, lighting and specialty finish-material selections. Documentation provided by designers includes builder-required specifications and drawings that serve not only bidding purposes, but also as contract documents to the subcontractors.
The tripod is the powerhouse team that upholds your vision of your new home. Without the architect, the structural integrity could be compromised or the ramifications of improper planning may not be conveyed. Without the general contractor, budgets could go astray, schedules could be indefinitely delayed and you could suffer costly regret. Without the interior designer, finish-material direction, product usage, maintenance and longevity may be overlooked.
Of course there are additional supporting legs that supplement the tripod. These may include realtors educated in land development, project managers who oversee the entire building team and landscape designers who integrate outdoor living. Project-specific specialists could include lighting, acoustics, audio/visual and fountain/pool designers.
When selecting the professionals that comprise your building team, it is wise to network and interview. Consider asking questions specifically about the value in team-oriented construction. Request referrals from those in the industry and seek advice from those who have built custom homes before.
Common homeowner regrets include lack of guidance and knowledge, poor management of budget and schedule, and improper material selections. By performing your initial research up front and securing your team early, you will alleviate these potential faults and be proud of the home you build for years to come.
Amy Fischer is president of the Los Altos-based Spectrum Interior Design Inc. For more information, visit spectruminteriordesign.com.