Lights, Camera, Action! A Step-By-Step Guide to The Design/Build Process

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By Bob Hoebeke
President, Hobeke Builders

One of the greatest gifts you can ever give your family is a defined space in which you can ‘do life together.’ Designing and building your home can be one of the most gratifying undertakings — but just like baking a cake, there is a prescription for success.

This is the first in a 12-week series aimed at helping you navigate the pushing and shoving associated with the building process. As Julie Andrews sang in The Sound of Music, “…start at the very beginning, a very good place to start!”

So let’s start with…

Developing a “Lifestyle Inventory”

Family housing “needs” define specifically sized spaces and function. “Wants” represent frivolous desires which would be nice to have, but may not be necessary because of budget.

For instance; a family of five probably “needs” four bedrooms, but “we really want the fifth bedroom for company.” Or perhaps this: to reduce clutter, the owner’s bedroom plus three child bedrooms need to be upstairs, and we want to try to work in the fifth bedroom downstairs for aging parents.

We all have specific requirements necessary to accommodate our lifestyle. Since we are going to the trouble to either build or remodel our home, why not concentrate for a few minutes on HOW we live so the necessary and/or frivolous spaces can be correctly designed?

Here are a few tips:

Get out the ol’ yellow pad and draw a line down the center of the page to differentiate between “needs” and “wants.”

  • How many bedrooms and baths?
  • Formal versus casual living (formal living room or casual great room/kitchen)
  • Kitchen amenities — actual use versus a household museum
  • Workrooms versus laundry room — or both
  • Home office and/or work carrels (think: pandemic)
  • Outdoor living and entertaining
  • Other amenities: Number of cars in the garage, wine room, bar, butler’s pantry, etc.

Remember, each room function you select drives an optimum size for the room.

Rectangular rooms are easier to decorate than square rooms (and rectangular rugs look better in rectangular rooms); staircases take up a minimum square footage footprint of 150 square feet; ideally, kitchen countertops should be 42 inches apart for maximum efficiency, etc. Focus on the space first and let’s dress the rooms for living later.

Find a 3 x 5 card, measure each room in your existing home, and write the existing room function and size on the card.

“Word pictures” are invaluable, and when function and size enter the discussion further down the line, a quick glance at your card will help you equate what’s being discussed with space in which you are already familiar.

  • A running inventory evaluation can also be helpful. For instance, “The 16-foot overhead door on my garage really cramps us when parking two cars.”
  • Measure just what you have, and don’t edit what you hope to have.

Collect, and catalog pictures from magazines, the internet (Houzz and Pinterest are a pretty good start), even homes you’ve visited where ideas abound and you want to capture the idea. 

  • Organize your pictures by room function — kitchens together, great rooms together, outdoor living together, etc. A few good pictures per space is optimum.
  • If something attracts you to a picture but you don’t know what it is, bring it along – it’s the architect’s job to help you define why you like it!
  • DON’T get married to any idea! It’s much more difficult to design around “absolutes” as opposed to “hypotheticals.”

Triangulating between defining function and space, understanding your existing space, and dreaming about what you’d like your new space to look like, maximizes opportunity and minimizes risk. Remember (and we’ll say this often), mistakes and surprises are the enemies of any building and remodeling project. A pound of prevention and proper planning is worth a ton of anguish!

NEXT WEEK: We’ll show you what to do with all of the hard work you’ve invested in the Lifestyle Inventory. We’re going to begin to build your “Project Team” while sharing some tips for interviewing professionals.


From, developing a “Lifestyle Inventory,” to building and monitoring your Project Team, Hoebeke Builders Consulting Services has all the tools necessary to dramatically increase your project’s efficiency, while decreasing your project’s cost! www.hoebekebuilders.com 

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