When building a home, choices can easily become overwhelming. There are so many options now, from layouts, to flooring, to counter tops, and wall finishes, that if you don’t have a firm grip on what you really want, you can end up making decisions you later regret.
Margaret Chambers, founder of Chambers Interiors & Associates, believes that great planning almost always results in a home that suits its owners perfectly. With more than 60,000 hours of interior design experience, Margaret offers her top tips on how to avoid builder’s regret:
When you’re planning your dream home—or even remodeling your current dream home—it’s easy to get carried away. Preparation and research will lay a solid foundation for your special project, and help you turn your dream into reality.
The following tips might seem like common sense, but it’s not until you actually begin — or make a mistake — that you’d catch yourself saying, “I wish I’d thought of that!” Keep these steps in mind to avoid making some common house planning mistakes.
As soon as possible, start clipping photos from architectural and interior decorating magazines; create idea books on Houzz.com and pinboards on Pinterest. Save photos of your favorite homes and vignettes—pretty soon, you will have a good idea of what you want your dream home to look like.
Now, create an organized notebook of every detail you want to incorporate in your new home. This notebook will be invaluable when you work with your design consultants, such as your architect, interior designer, landscape architect, and (if budget allows) your lighting and electrical consultant.
Before hiring any consultants, check their background and verify that they are licensed in their fields of expertise. Once you’ve chosen your team, make sure that everyone understands your budget completely.
Larry E. Boerder, one of Dallas’s most admired architects, recommends giving a complete set of detailed drawings and specifications to each client. It’s important that every consultant gets the total design concept and accurate bids from builders and subcontractors. Larry also recommends bringing your interior designer into the project early on, and I agree.
Having a licensed interior designer is essential to space planning the existing furniture. This way, you can decide on what furniture you want to keep and see what new furniture is needed before the foundation is laid.
Knowing your furniture needs ahead of time will save you a lot of trouble. If you want a dining room to seat twelve with a buffet and china hutch, the interior designer can make sure there is ample room for your guests to be seated and served.
It’s also important to plan out the electrical outlets in each room. Make sure there will be no dangling cords, and that the floor outlet is under a sofa or table, rather than in a major traffic pattern or under a desk chair.
Window placement can be adjusted to accommodate the furniture placement in each room. Your interior designer will help you select everything from paint color to decorative lighting fixtures, and make sure the whole home flows from room to room.
The next most important member of your team is your builder. Again, make sure you research his or her reputation in the field. Talk to friends and ask to see a list of references you can call. Make sure the builder you work with has built the size and quality of home you are considering. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of builders, give your complete drawings and specifications to at least three of them and let them bid on the home.
Joe Kain, one of Dallas’s premier builders, has offered this excellent advice:
“Do not commit starting the project until it has been bid, budgeted, and presented to you in an organized and understandable manner. This estimated budget should be accompanied by copies of actual bids received from suppliers and subcontractors along with copies of bid parameters that were sent to each. This will provide a basis for accountability by those subcontractors and suppliers.
“This estimated budget should be completed before entry into a construction contract as a general guideline and understanding related to cost. In other words, count the cost as best possible before starting the project.”
If you’re interested in hiring a lighting and electrical consultant, make sure to bring him or her on board as early as possible as well. A lighting designer knows all the tricks to make your house even more spectacular. For example, they know how to frame a painting with the perfect amount of light and how to make the crystal sparkle above the dining room table.
A media expert may be necessary to plan the media room. He or she will know where to house the electronics, where to place speakers, just how large the screen should be, and will also understand the importance of acoustics.
Last, but not least, is the landscape architect. Request a list of projects so you can see the work that he or she has completed in the past. Make sure to show the landscape architect any trees you want to save.
As you can see, there are countless choices to consider when you’re designing your own dream home. Now, start that notebook, do your research, and you’re on your way to building your dream home—the right way!
Margaret Chambers has received numerous awards from the American Society of Interior Design, has been named a Best Designer by D Home in Dallas for over seven years and has been a featured designer in over two dozen publications including Traditional Home, Texas Home & Living, and Dallas Modern Luxury to name a few. Chambers’ experience, innate talent, and classic European studies enable her to confidently mix different styles, techniques, and cultures. You can view her portfolio at www.chambersinteriors.com.