Building a Custom Home - Where to Start?


When clients come to us ready to explore a new project, whether it be a custom home or just a small remodel, there are always a lot of questions. And there should be - there are a lot of steps to the process. But questions are good! We ask a lot of questions of our clients as well. It's through this period of question and answer that we begin to lay the groundwork for the project. Discovering not only what the clients need, but also what they want is one of the most important parts of our job and it begins well in advance of any site work.

When embarking on a major remodel or custom home build, we encourage our clients to gather as much media together as possible. Pinterest has been absolutely wonderful in this regard! Because most people don't spend their days studying architectural terms and blueprints, providing us with photos of spaces which appeal to them is greatly helpful. What one person refers to as Traditional, another person might find Transitional. By getting a vision of what our clients like, we begin to steer the ship in the right direction. We can introduce products and finishes which fit their personal aesthetic and in such a way, we plot our course.

The process of building a new home usually begins before the builder is even contacted. People make the decision and then spend some time looking at floor plans and elevations. Usually when clients come to us, they've found a handful of plans they like. If they haven't we encourage them to go out to sites like Architectural Designs or Eplans to get started. It's then our job to sit down with them and go over what they like about each plan, what their property (and zoning) will allow, and what parts of the plans they don't enjoy. We may go through 30 plans before we come up with a Frankensteined patchwork quilt of ideas. Some clients have very specific ideas but no plans picked out - in those cases we start from scratch, sketching and mocking up different ideas until we find a winner.

For example - The House that Mim Built is a custom design borne of a premade plan. We spent a few months looking at floor plans, taking ideas from here and there. The plan above appealed in many ways, but needed a lot of work to become just the right home for my mom.

The original plan is a two-story, 3400 SF executive home - not exactly what Mim was looking for. But she liked the open concept, so it gave us a good starting point. We ended up keeping only the kitchen/dining room/great room layout as well as the angled garage - everything else became custom designed space. Soon I'll share the final build plans and you'll see just how different Mim's house will be.

Next I'll share how we bring together all the different design ideas using computer modeling. This allows the clients to not only see wall colors and furniture placement, but also to envision adding windows, moving walls and more! It's a very useful tool for developing the plans.

Follow PCW design/build on Pinterest for project photos, inspiration and ideas!


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