The Design Process

Introduction
My job as a designer is to guide you through the ever increasing complexity of the building process, to help clarify your dreams, to provide documents to guide the construction, to help you get the best value for the large expenditures involved, to keep all the players in the drama on the same team, and to make this all fun.

Approached with enthusiasm, confidence, imagination, teamwork, and a sense of humor, a building project can be a wonderful creative experience.

The most gratifying results, both in design and enjoyment of the effort, come when there is a strong sense of partnership between you and me. The best design solutions come from collaboration and working closely together enhances the assurance that you will be thrilled with the final scheme.

Problem Definition
The first stage is to define as clearly as possible your needs as well as any problems the project is to address. We’ll begin to develop criteria for judging the design. You’ll find that it helps to separate the definition of the problem from the solution. We focus on the activities that the space must provide for, the kinds of spaces you find inspiring, and other lifestyle and function-oriented factors. In addition, we take stock of the resources available, which involves measuring existing conditions, analyzing the sunlight, views, zoning requirements, neighboring structures, establishing the budget, and so on.

Design
Once we have a good start on defining the problem, we can begin the design work. The first step is to work out the general size, shape, and location of the major elements. The usual pattern for this process is for me to spend some time working out one or more alternatives, then meets with the client to review the work. Often the discussion produces a new approach altogether, or a combination of several ideas. Much of the design is worked out together during this process, which is repeated over the course of several weeks until everyone is satisfied with the result. As we resolve design questions, we work our way down in scale to windows, materials and more. Once the design is established, I prepare construction documents for use in obtaining proposals from contractors, securing approvals from building departments and negotiating the contract with the builder. These documents consist of drawings and specifications governing the required quality of construction. When necessary, I can visit the construction site (for an additional fee) to help resolve questions that arise and to determine in general that the work is being done as required by the contract.

Construction Costs
Construction costs are traditionally a thorny issue. A variety of factors contribute, including: wishful thinking on the part of owners and architects/designers, the desire on the part of everyone to add another interesting touch here and there, structural difficulties that can not always be determined at the outset, and the current demand for construction. In order to prevent misunderstandings about the budget, it is important to be clear and realistic as possible from the outset. Having a clear understanding from the outset as to what the financial investment range will be helps keep the design phase in alignment with 
the financial investment involved. Several steps can be taken in order to reduce the possibility of unpleasant surprises regarding construction costs. It is often helpful to consult with a contractor during the design phase to get input regarding the cost. I enjoy working closely with contractors during the design phase. The process is often referred to as the design/build approach.

Call us at 508-881-7992 or send an e-mail to info@gmthomedesigns.com to tell us about the dreams you have for your home. We look forward to talking with you.