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Design Should Come First

If you wanted a red car… would you walk onto a car lot and make the statement of nothing more than “I want a red car” and have confidence that you will leave happy with whatever the salesman chooses for you? Unlikely…

So, how do you expect that a similar type of vague descriptor is going to be successful for your builder to be able to build the house that you dream of? Often, people think it’s easy for others to extract their vision and that the simple descriptors will be enough to explain what they want. There are a lot of tiny details and intentions for functionality that need to be communicated to your builder, and that is what design is for.  

A design package is the map to build your home – how it’s been designed, and without need for the long-winded description you would have to give to make sure it isn’t just any old “red car”. Without the proper design documents, it would be nearly impossible to describe all the parts that go into it… or in the least, you would be very out of breath! The package of design documents that your designer delivers are essentially the instruction manual, that any qualified builder can use to build your home, exactly the way that you envision it. 

Putting design first – ahead of any part of the construction process – is the only way to know exactly what you are going to get, and exactly how much it will cost. You absolutely need to know how much your project is going to cost before you get started – whether you have a tight budget anneed to be sure that the ‘needs list’ gets met… or because you have the money to spend and want to see where you can add in those wants list items you have been dreaming about – either way you want to be sure that the house is perfect for you within your means to build it, and that is only achieved through following a proper design process. 

Let’s explore both scenarios, as quite often, we just don’t know what we don’t know… and in our world, quite often we find that the “don’t know” is regarding what designers actually do. 

There are many reasons that people don’t start with design… 

  • They think it will save money 
  • They think it will take too long 
  • They think they know better 
  • They think they will have time to do it themselves 
  • They may not know what the professionals do 

However, the list of reasons people should start with design is much longer… 

  • Designers create the drawings for pricing  
  • Designers create the drawings for permits 
  • Designers create the drawings for construction 
  • Designers know building code and city bylaws 
  • Designers understand space adjacencies and scale 
  • Designers are experienced in navigating through permitting and city process 
  • Designers assist with material, fixture, and furniture selection 
  • Designers are good at making sure spaces function and flow 
  • Designers create the specification documents 
  • Designers are good with colour and materials 
  • Designers’ deliverables allow contractors to price the project accurately 
  • Designers provide client advocacy during construction 
  • Designers have access to designer discounts 
  • Designers make your life easier 
  • Designers make sure it all looks great and functions well as a whole!  We are the quarterback of your team before construction starts. 

Qualified designers (be sure that you are hiring the right kind for your project) have a wealth of knowledge for all the components that go into designing your home, as it is much more than choosing materials. In fact, the actual selection of materials is a relatively small piece of the overall process.  

Each one of these reasons why you should start with design holds substantial merits that often people don’t realize until they are in the thick of it. Don’t let your home be halfway framed up before finding out that your floorplans are dysfunctional, or that the spaces don’t allow for items that are important to you. If you progress into construction before you have worked out these details you may be forced to either halt construction to allow the details to be worked out, or find yourself forced to make a reactive decision to remedy the predicament.  Or even worse – find out it’s too late to make the change needed and end up with significant compromise, and you have saved and dreamed too long to compromise on your forever home! 

This is the reason that when design happens, it is best for the outcome of the project for it to happen firstOne oversight or change of mind, or the unavailability of material, can have a chain reaction on how all the other components function together. You need to determine the final scope, specs, and budget before starting construction. Having completed set of design documents is the way to ensure that construction goes smoothly and completes on time and on budget. And we always remind clients and builders that making changes on paper is much easier (and cheaper) than making changes in construction. 

That house that you have been envisioning in your mind, likely dreaming about for years, you should get to see that house come to life, and when its complete, you can then call it something simple ‘My Dream Home’ and it is just that! Because it matches the vision. 

This is what SGDI is known for… getting homes built the way they were designed, the way our clients envisioned them.

With the analogy of the red car in mind, this kind of proper design and planning that comes first, means that the “red car” in your mind, matches the red car that you drive off the lot… and you feel satisfied and happy with it!  

Tags: design process, planning

What People Are Saying

Lawrence Green

"I was impressed not only by Sarah's design ability, but also with her level of construction knowledge. I have heard that a lot of designers are good at making things pretty, but are not that great at understanding how things are actually built- Sarah is fantastic at both. I recommend them to anyone and everyone I know without hesitation."

Diane and Vince Grdina

"We had the pleasure of working with Sarah on the construction of our new home. We had a lot of fun working with them and found them always thoughtful, mindful, and professional. We would highly recommend their firm and would use them again without hesitation."

Pete Rackow

"We were immediately impressed with Sarah's ability to assess our needs and understand the type of home my wife and I wanted for us and our 3 boys. Her attention to detail is flawless and every inch of our fully renovated home is thoroughly thought through. I felt like they cared about our home as much as we the homeowners did."