The Design Process
The details of the design process can be intimidating. Often, clients have a big-picture idea of the changes they’d like to see, but details – like the type of materials, hardware and color – are overwhelming. One of the most common questions we get from new clients is “do you have someone on staff who can tell me if my ideas are even feasible?” Many homeowners who are considering a custom home or remodel ponder these questions with their loved ones, and then put off contacting a professional firm due to “analysis paralysis”. But there’s no need to let questions like these stand in the way of getting the home or custom remodel your family deserves.
Traditionally, remodeling services required an architect or designer to create the construction drawings, which put the vision of your remodel on paper. This was necessary for permitting purposes and to develop a contract. These construction drawings were then transferred to a general contractor, who often had no connection with the architect or designer. It was the general contractor’s job to turn your vision into reality.
This traditional model presents several challenges for the homeowner, especially since the vision for the remodel conveyed by the homeowner to the architect or designer is being carried out by the general contractor, and there may not be formal communication between the designer and the general contractor in the traditional model. This can be compounded by the fact that very few designers have the practical experience in construction or construction costs to accurately advise a client on the impact to budget. When working with the traditional model, clients may not be advised by a stand-alone designer on how their design ideas affect budget costs. Architects are more likely to have a better knowledge of the impact on construction costs, although there is a substantial increase in up-front costs for the architect’s services. Secondly, the traditional model requires some type of project management from the homeowner to ensure that what they envisioned is actually being constructed.
Here’s a better way: since many homeowners don’t have the time or expertise to be a part-time project manager, Schweitzer Design and Build provides integrated Design and Construction services under one roof. The design you see on paper is the design you’ll get when your remodel is completed. In addition, all aspects of the project, and all communications, are handled in-house. Think of us as a concierge service for your remodel project.
The design process begins with your first phone call to us. We want a solid understanding of your present situation, and, specifically, what you’d like changed or upgraded and how that will benefit your family. Next, we arrange for our designer and construction manager to visit your home. Before we take measurements, we visit your home to discuss your project in greater detail and establish a ballpark construction budget and develop the preliminary scope of work for the remodel. Once we are on the same page with you about the construction budget and preliminary scope of work, we proceed with a design contract and give you the cost to draw plans.
The Scope of Work (sometimes abbreviated SOW) is a document, which clearly describes what is and is not included in the remodel. The Scope of Work ensures that your new remodel will meet all code requirements and specifies the structural changes, materials to be used, etc. Before a single craftsman raises a hammer, the Scope of Work is presented to the homeowner for approval.
We then make another appointment to come back and measure. During the second visit, we take extensive measurements, examine any existing construction drawings (don’t worry if you don’t have any), and record an oral history of the house. The measurements we gather will allow us to coordinate creative and structural elements such as mechanical (HVAC), electrical, plumbing, foundation, etc. The measurements also allow us to provide extremely accurate cost and time estimates.
Next comes the part that many homeowners love: the selection process. This is where we work with you to select the materials for your remodel, such as countertops, custom cabinets, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, flooring, and more. These upfront decisions make the build process less stressful for the client, because it all but eliminates the possibility of rushed, last-minute decisions. Our structured selection process also reduces the potential for delay because these materials can be ordered early on and are available for installation exactly when they are needed.
By integrating the design and build processes, we allow the homeowner to focus on family and life commitments. The end result is a well thought-out and efficient remodel that’s more closely aligned with the needs of the homeowner and family.