By now you've heard the tale: A couple designs their dream home on a coffee-stained napkin and 12 months later they've moved in. It's practically a cliché. Many homes really do start this way, but there's a crucial part missing from this story?the design process. Though some people design their homes on their own, most employ designers or architects. If you fall into the latter category, keep these things in mind:
- Architect or Designer — ?What's the Difference? Schooling and accreditation, primarily. All architects are designers, but not all designers are architects. To become an architect, the individual must pass his or her state's Board of Architects exam. Both can design a gorgeous, structurally sound home, but there are a few functions that architects can perform that designers aren't licensed to do. Hiring an architect is often more costly than hiring a designer, but both are well worth the expense.
- Select the Right Person. Before you hire a designer, interview several candidates. Think about the kind of relationship you want with that person. Make sure he or she shares your vision and can communicate with you. A good designer/client relationship will consist of an exchange of ideas. You'll work closely with your designer for quite some time; you'll want to feel comfortable.
- Don't Rush the Process. A home is a significant financial investment, so it's smart to get it right the first time. The best way to do that is through a well-planned design. Be methodical in your approach and work in sequential order (i.e., don't choose your cabinetry before your kitchen is designed.)
- Convey What You Want. A designer or architect can't read your mind. You have to know what you want and express it in clear, exact terms. That said, don't neglect the advice of your designer. He or she likely will have years of experience and a bank of knowledge about what will and won't work. Mutual respect will go a long way toward designing the home of your dreams.