Thinking about building a new home or a planning a major renovation / addition? With 27 years of professional experience, here’s some (slightly tongue and cheek) advice I can give you.
Establish a preliminary construction budget but think of it as a starting point. Rest assured, whatever number you come up with, the final cost will be higher. Trust me on this one.
Make a list of your ‘wants’ vs. your ‘must-haves’ and prioritize them. (Hint: that soaking tub you saw online should not be on your ‘must-haves’ list.)
Consider how to balance quality vs. quantity. This one is hard, but think of it this way: you can build a smaller house out of higher quality materials, or a larger house out of lower quality materials. Finding the right balance so you have no regrets later is the goal.
Collect a few interior and exterior images to describe the architectural aesthetic you find appealing. The famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe paraphrased it best: ‘less is more.’
The design process is going to take longer than you think. Sorry, but every project is unique and of course my clients all have busy lives. Here’s the good news: the more time my clients and I spend working together, the better the final outcome.
Select a general contractor early in the design process. Forget bidding the job; you’re not going to save a lot of money this way. A team approach with a good quality builder on-board is incredibly helpful.
Finally, design and build for your climate. Virginia has a ‘mixed-humid’ climate which means we have moisture constantly moving through our exterior envelope and we get about 48 inches of rain annually. Controlling this moisture through correct specification of materials and detailing of wall assemblies is critical. If you get this wrong, nothing else matters.
So there you have it, all in good fun. I hope you find something here that's useful.
JB Sties, Architect