A true custom home is a one-of-a-kind product, designed specifically for you, with the style and amenities you desire, laid out to fit precisely on your lot. A custom-designed home has never been built before. Every interior finish will be created for you, the client, including custom paint colors, tile designs, and cabinetry. There is also a semi-custom home, which is easier and less expensive to build. Builders develop several versatile plans that will work for a variety of clients and lots, and they use this plan several times throughout a development. This means fewer surprises and on-site problem solving, lowering the cost. The same money-saving approach is used for the interior design selections, limiting the clients’ options to four or five choices for each finish. Both types of new homes are handcrafted on site by construction crews, from a set of two-dimensional drawings and elevations. It is a creative collaboration of experienced professionals who combine their talents and expertise to craft a beautiful, high-quality house that conforms as closely as possible to the clients’ conceptualized vision of their dream home.
Behind every new home is a team of talented professionals who take on the challenge of transforming ideas into reality. Most often consisting of the builder, an architect, an interior designer, and a construction superintendent, these professionals use their experience to develop the blueprints and specifications, render technical information and advice on the myriad of decisions that will need to be made, supervise the process, and create the vision of how the finished product will look and function.
What Does The Builder Do?
The Builder, or general contractor, is the main figure responsible for overseeing the entire project. The builder assembles the home building team according to his unique strengths and focus. There are as many different ways to organize this team as there are home building companies, and every company seems to offer its’ own personnel mix. Some builders are architects specializing in signature home designs, leaving the bricks and boards to the superintendent. Many large builders are primarily developers who focus on planning new communities, offering architect and interior design services on an in-house or contract basis, with superintendents following the day-to-day project specifics. Other builders are hands-on craftsmen who enjoy supervising the construction aspect of their projects themselves, using independent, free-lance architects and interior designers with whom they have established a working relationship. There are builders who leave it up to the client to choose their own architect and interior designer to bring to the project. But, typically builders who don’t offer the design service professionals necessary for a project are able to make referrals for these resources.
Do I Need An Architect?
The Architect draws the detailed blueprints that will determine what your home will look like and how it will be built. These are very detailed and must be accurate as they will lock-in many aspects of the house that are very expensive and problematic to change later. Everyone involved in the project will be working off these plans. An architect needs to be a good listener as he will draw your home according to your wish list of needs and wants. His input as far as maximizing space and traffic flow, as well as attractive design, are invaluable and what he gets paid for, but you determine what goes into the house according to your lifestyle and preferences. The interior designer is often at these design sessions with the architect, and I highly recommend it. Countless details for the interior finish-out have to be considered at this time and will affect how the house is designed and the plans are drawn.
Doesn’t The Architect Design The Interior?
The Interior Designer takes over where the architect leaves off, at the inside walls. The finishes, details, and materials are not usually included in the blue prints. Every component of the custom home’s interior must be selected by the homeowner in accordance with the production schedule to prevent costly construction delays. This can seem like an overwhelming task, so a big part of what the designer does is break this process down for clients, making it a step by step progression with each decision leading to the next. Designers pull it all together, making sure that the all the choices the client has made will work to create a cohesive interior scheme. They also create the special features that give clients’ homes a true custom look, such as intricate tile patterns, furniture-style cabinetry, and faux treatments. They have the skills to assemble samples, sketches, and mock-ups to help clients visualize how their choices are going to look, and the resources to research and locate any unique products a client wishes to use that might not be available from the usual suppliers. Working with a designer allows clients get to make their selections at Trade Only showrooms that offer more cutting-edge design ideas, better technical information, and wider selections than the resources generally available to the public.
What Does The Superintendent Do?
The Superintendent is the manager on-site, overseeing every aspect of the construction process. He manages time, communication, and money. It is his job to make sure that the sequence and timing of the work adheres to the production schedule, the timetable established to build your home by the completion date. He coordinates men and materials so that they are on site at the appropriate time and are staying within the budget. Quality control and building codes are also his responsibility, regularly walking the project with building inspectors or the client. An experienced superintendent has creative solutions to the inevitable problems that arise when a two-dimensional drawing is translated into three-dimensional form, or when the client says, “Oh, I didn’t realize it would look like that!” His technical knowledge and attention to detail are reflected in the quality of your home.
Gather ideas. Tear out, or “pin,” or “add to an idea book” every picture you see that has even one item in it that resonates with you. It may be a whole room you love, or just one item as simple as a pillow. It might be a kitchen, but you’re redoing your master bedroom. It doesn’t matter. Details from any room that speaks to you can be re-interpreted to fit whatever room you are doing.
Look at enough rooms to create a profile of what appeals to you. With enough idea shopping, your style will emerge and crystallize before your very eyes. There will be a consistent trend in what appeals to you. Specific design elements, colors, patterns, shapes, and treatments will keep showing up in the interiors you are drawn to. This is your style—the look that you enjoy and need to be surrounded by in your home. Use this information as a blueprint for all of your selections throughout the house.
Take style cues from your surroundings. If you are remodeling, look at all of your existing finishes; moulding profiles, wood tones, wall textures, and window styles. What style do the existing architectural details suggest? These elements need to influence your project design direction, and help you make decisions. If you are building a new house, consider any existing furniture and accessories that you will be taking with you.
Make sure everything works together throughout the entire house. While it would be boring for every room to look the same, and certain rooms need to have special features, the overall look and design of the home needs to be coherent. Think through how the finish choices in every room will connect with the finishes in the next areas. Will your selections have a natural flow, or do they make your home look like a sporadically updated rental property?
Seeing the total picture is especially crucial with remodeling projects done over time. Not planning ahead with remodeling causes homeowners to end up with too many different finishes and materials throughout their house. This leads to bad transitions for paint colors, texture, or moulding styles. The worst results are abrupt flooring changes where one type of tile butts directly into another type of tile, or where every bedroom gets a different carpet color, and they are all visible from the hallway that connects them. This is a huge negative factor for resale.
Even if you are doing one room at a time and won’t get to the last room for five years, have a comprehensive plan that includes every room, even that last room and the hall leading to it.
Before you pick your paint colors, choose your furnishings for the room. Rugs, upholstery, drapery panels, pillows, accessories, and artwork are the best inspiration for your color scheme, and the easiest method for choosing the right paint colors. Textile and paint companies spend a fortune to research and develop the best colors for products. Most products come in a limited color palette that is the result of determining the most popular, workable, and universal colors, then refining them for the current market trends. Colors that work well together are used in prints and patterns that show you what colors you can combine in your home for the most pleasing effect. These color combinations will show up in fabric, rugs, and accessories, as well as the project materials for your home, and they can serve as your inspiration for your design schemes.
Look to these free sources of expert color direction:
Interior paint colors
*If you plan to use blinds or shutters on your windows, it will save you time and money to match your trim paint color to the standard colors of the blinds, shutters, or other window treatment products you intend to use. Not only will you be assured that you are painting your trim a pleasing, universally accepted neutral color, but you won’t be ordering a custom product and paying more just to match the color.
Exterior paint colors
Occasionally you can’t find the exact color you want on the color palette, and you need to get more creative. If you have narrowed it down to two color samples in the same family, but you just can’t decide between them, try this approach: mix these two colors together using equal parts of each to get an entirely new color that blends the best elements of both colors. This often results in getting the perfect color that is customized just for you. Paint this custom color on a large 2′ x 3′ sample board and put it to the test. See how it looks in daylight and artificial light in the actual room where it is going. Bear in mind that new texture on walls makes paint colors look twice as bright as they will look once there are other colors and finishes in the room. If this color sample works, take that sample back to the paint store and they can color match it to create a formula just for you. The paint store will even let you name your color.
If you do use a custom color, keep a record of the formula, or else you may not be able to match the paint or stain in the future. Some paint stores will keep your formula on file for awhile, but they will eventually dispose of it. An easy way to keep a record of the formula is to take a photo of the label on the top of the can where the formula is printed. Be sure to first write the room name where the color was used on the label with the formula.