Friday, September 14, 2012

Raising the Roof!

(Editors Note: The following is an excerpt from my new book Raising the Roof! A Homebuilder's Secrets to Saving Time and Money. Though the blog took the summer off, the writer of the blog didn't - he was busy writing the book. So often homeowners take a "Ready, Fire, Aim" approach to the building process. Raising the Roof! attempts to re-orient the process so most of the planning occurs upfront, before leaving the architect's office. This piece is an overview of the players necessary for the complete planning of any home or remodel. Hopefully this will be as much fun to read, as it was to write!)
Build a Team

As the owner desiring to have a home built or remodeled, it’s your project so you get to be the quarterback. First, interview prospective team members using the interviewing suggestions below, and hire integrity, character, experience, knowledge, and a “can do” spirit. The team must include an architect, builder/contractor, interior designer (unless you have fabulous taste and proven experience) and a landscape architect. Just a thought or two about the team members:

  • ·      Architects are usually creative people who don’t know, or understand cost. Their discipline is not centered around the cost of materials or labor. They have been trained in design, proportion, balance etc. and bring the aesthetic to the project.

  • ·      Builders know and understand cost. The builder’s discipline has them working in numbers and budgets all day long, but most don’t really know design. Assembling both architect and builder in the same room should give an owner the best of both worlds.

  • ·      Interior Designers usually don’t know schedule. Most often these are creative people (read: artists) who really know color, texture, shape, form, and all of the wonderful components necessary for achieving the “look.” But bringing structure to an interior designer’s world and getting selections when the building process demands, is like herding cats. Though the builder and architect can aid in giving structure to the interior designer, most probably the owner will need to reinforce that the designer is being paid to be timely in their creativity.

  • ·      Landscape Architects design and coordinate all of the outside disciplines and elements necessary for a beautiful yard. This should happen along with the home design and interiors. It’s amazing how much overlap there is between the trades needed to build a home, and the players necessary for creating exterior landscaping. Why not reap the benefits of the cost efficiency of having the concrete guy pour all of the footings, pads, piers, and preliminary flatwork necessary for the yard landscape along with the foundation for the house? Why not have the pool designed, located and formed before home construction gets in the way and makes it really expensive to do later? It requires a little forward thinking, but the savings are dramatic.

·      There’s an argument saying structural engineers, consultants, and lighting designers should be added to the team at the beginning of the process. Too many cooks in the kitchen! The “team” functions much more efficiently with fewer people. Your builder, architect, interior designer, and landscape architect should be the core of your Project Team. They should bring in the other disciplines as necessary to accomplish specific things which may be needed in your home. Good team members also know where competent support professionals can be found. Typically these will be professionals they have worked with before who become valuable additions to the project.

·      Remember this process ends up being a “chemistry experiment.” It’s very important that the owner really likes the people on the Project Team because enormous amounts of time will be spent with this group. Don’t just hire the market reputation of someone because everyone in the community is mesmerized by their work. Upon meeting who the market deems Mr. Wonderful, if there is a personality clash, toss them back in the pond.

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