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New Home Building Process
by Dr. Oneida Cramer
Lots of new construction dwellings doting the neighborhoods are attracting many homebuyers. But often, these homebuyers don?t understand the details in new home building or how they can participate effectively in building the home of their dreams.
?Most people walk into a room, and they like the feel of it. But they don?t realize how many different elements went together to make the room look the way it does or how long a process it is,? said Diane Mallory, A.S.I.D. at the Design Studio of Gabberts. ?I think that a frustration I have, that some of my fellow designers have, is that so many homeowners who buy these gorgeous new homes?big new homes?walk in and in one appointment expect you to be able to do the whole house. To me, that?s just settling. But a lot of people aren?t familiar with the process or they don?t understand it. So, they don?t have the patience to do it.?
?Yes, you could probably do the whole house in a week or ten days. But it?s so much more fabulous when you make a process of it,? Mallory said. ?My ideal would be to start in the planning stages when the client is just beginning to work with the builder?at the end of the architectural design or design of the floor plan.?
?We have an initial meeting to get to know each other; then I discuss my consultation fee,? Mallory said. Once the homeowners make the decision to move forward, Mallory schedules another introductory meeting to walk through the floor plan?room by room?and discuss what the homeowners have in mind. At this meeting, the homeowners bring in the ideas and all the pictures and photographs they?ve been saving for their dream home.
?I have several clients that have notebooks full of ideas,? Mallory said. They?ve got a kitchen section, a family room section, a master bath section, for instance. When they bring a notebook with different looks, sometimes not all the same theme, Mallory helps compartmentalize the plan so that the main rooms coordinate together while the secondary rooms integrate the more unusual looks in natural transition.
?From there we usually schedule meetings?once a week to every 10 days to start implementing the ideas,? Mallory said.
First stop?tiles and hard surfaces, which means one to several trips to the tile distributors and granite distributors for an idea of what is available. And what?s available often directs the color scheme of the room. ?For instance, if the customer wants granite for the kitchen, then we see what?s out there because you can?t get granite in any color you want. You have to see what is available from Mother Nature at the time. Also, if the homeowner wants stone or tile for the flooring, it?s kind of the same thing.? Selecting tile can take up to eight weeks depending on the time the homeowners need to make a decision. And of course, budget is always factored in the discussion.
?I try to stay within the budget,? Mallory said. ?But if the homeowner really likes something that?s not in the budget, I?ll step up.?
Next stop is plumbing fixtures because one of the first things the builder needs is the plumbing valves to go in the wall before the sheetrock goes up.
?So we meet at a plumbing showroom and select or tentatively select the faucets for the bathtubs and the showers and the sinks,? Mallory said. This task, by the way, can be daunting because of the wide variety of styles.
The next item the builder usually requires is wall surfacing?which rooms will be wallpapered or textured or maybe faux painted. And the homeowners meet the trim man to discuss wood trim and plaster molding. Also at this time comes the fireplaces, already drawn in the floor plan as masonry fireplaces or fireboxes; but now their design comes into play.
Color is next?wall paint colors, ceiling color and trim, and cabinet color. And if wallpaper is to be selected, this is the time to do that. ?All of this can be done in advance?as early as the floor plan stage,? Mallory said. ?But usually we do it as we?re going. And towards the end, we finalize things.? For instance, if gold was discussed at the first meeting the homeowners at this point choose the hue of gold.
Once the flooring and carpeting are selected, Mallory discusses mirrors and shower doors?usually with whomever the builder uses?and then decorative lighting fixtures, which means trips to the lighting showroom to make the final selection. And then it?s a trip back to the hardware distributor to select doorknobs, cabinet poles, and towel bars.
?At the point that I feel that we?re on tract with the construction of the home,? Mallory said, ?I start discussing window treatments and furnishings with the homeowner if that is something that the homeowners want to include in the project.? Because home furnishings take from 4 to 14 weeks for delivery, Mallory recommends ordering the furnishings early enough for delivery by the time the home is completed.
Home construction takes anywhere from 90 days to over a year to build the types of homes demanded in this area, according to Mallory. And an interior designer can become a part of that home-building team at anytime during the project.
?I try to guide them, and yes, I make them aware of all the choices,? Mallory said. ?And then I try to be a sounding board. Some people want more freedom than others to make a decision.?
?A lot of who I?ve been working with lately are what I call empty nesters?their children are gone,? Mallory said. The home is probably one of their last big houses?their dream home. ?We don?t talk resale. We talk what ever they want.?
And what they want is a wide variety of customized looks?with a focus on the European?anywhere from French to comfortable French Country, rustic and casual. The popular colors are the warm tones in tans and gold tans to sage greens, olive greens or natural slate and limestone for a contemporary look.
With so many choices and so many details in home building, homebuyers often receive a mini cram course in home construction when they choose a new home under completion. In such a process, consultation would benefit these homebuyers and just might enable their getting a dream home.
Dr. Oneida Cramer
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