Monday, March 30, 2015

My process for designing a home

The home of one of my customers in nearing completion and I am anxiously awaiting the final pictures. The home is located near Carthage, MO.

We started with some drawings supplied by the customer and modified these into what became the final floorplan over a period of a few weeks. The basic layout changed fairly significantly and we added and subtracted to suit their needs. My design process usually proceeds in this manner; we start with a sketch and some ideas, discuss their "must haves" and other factors such as their building lot and orientation of the home.

Once I have this preliminary information, I then set about creating a first draft of the main floor which I send to the customer for review and feedback. They will send me back ideas on what they like or dislike. When a customer identifies a feature they don't like, I try to drill down on that issue and try to understand their desire better. I am practical about incorporating a client's desires. Some things can be added to the design, but then, some ideas are simply not practical. In the latter case, I have a discussion with the customer explaining the implications or cost of particular design element, what would have to be changed, etc.

Regardless, as the design progresses, I exchange several design drafts of the floor plan with the customer, each becoming more refined and closer to the final version.

At some point during this process of the main floor design, I will add additional floors as required. This may be a basement or second floor, or both. Again, I start with a rough draft and have my customer review it and let me know their thoughts. At the same time, I am again designing with the structure and mechanical requirements in mind. All the building loads have to be passed down from each floor to the foundation. Where will the HVAC system be located? How can we eliminate a post in an inconvenient location? How can we arrange the rooms for the best efficiency? There are lots of things to consider as the design progresses.

Once we have the various floorplans basically complete, I start sending elevation views to my customer. From these, we refine the type of siding, the sizes and configurations of windows and doors. Elevations are typically a two dimensional view, so I also generate various 3 dimensional renderings to help customers get a better feel for the design.

Once the customer is satisfied with the design of the home, I have to set about adding all the details that are required for their contractor to build their home. Again, I am incorporating or detailing the many items that create the structure into the plans. These can be foundation walls, beams, pier pads, grade beams, bearing points, bearing walls...... These details and many structural notes are included in the plans in order not only to guild the builder, but also to satisfy the requirements of the local building code officials.

Once I am finished with the plans and my customer has paid the remainder of the design fee, I email them PDF files of the plans from which they can print as many copies of the design as is required for the building code officials, contractors and sub contractors.

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