Starting from Scratch

After living in home after home that is just not quite perfect, the itch to build often has its merit. But, how does one begin this arduous process (and I won't lie... it is arduous)? Let's take a look at the steps and requirements needed to build new!

1. Develop a Wishlist

It is important to note that this is not a product wishlist, but a lifestyle wishlist. Ask yourself why a custom, new-build is the right choice. Think about location. Consider the reality of building, and what the backup plan may be.

2. Establish a Budget

Easier said than done, right? Try creating a spreadsheet and allow yourself to think about it over time. What fees and taxes are involved? Permits? Consultants? Begin with what you can afford, and work your way down from that number to see if you are on track, short, or over. Include a meaty portion for the "other" category, at least 10% of the overall budget, and do not forget to include design fees and the cost of furnishings and decor for your new space. Window treatments are a good chunk of change that is often forgotten!

Not sure what to set aside for design fees? Take a look at our article here, and another fantastic article on budgeting your project here.

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3. Find your place

Time to find your land or a run-down home ready for demolition. Do not limit yourself to empty lots. There are plenty of ramshackle homes that are in dire need of a good demo crew, and even some creative material re-use! A few perks of buying land with a home already on it are: it may be possible to live in the existing structure while the new one is being built, and all the utilities are already there!

4. Gather your resources

I'm referring to your people here. King County folks, take a look at the requirements for permitting, and develop a team based on those needs. Choose a builder that you trust and allow them to guide you through this process. You'll need a site survey and an architect and interior architectural designer right off the bat. It's not uncommon today to hear that an architect is not needed for certain project types, and while that may be true that legally, we don't need an architect, I cannot tell you what you're missing without one. The design input from an architectural designer is what will ensure a quality design with lasting integrity vs. a spec home that looks identical to every other house on the block. This is about customization after all, isn't it?

At Waldron Designs, we offer architectural design, interior architectural design, and interior design. We work with several consultants including lighting and plumbing specialists, and we have spent years selecting our favorite and most highly trusted product representatives.  In addition to these services, do not forget to include a landscape designer. Landscape should never be an afterthought. We enjoy working with Schaefer Specialty, but every landscape designer has their own style... choose one that you feel truly understands your desires. 

Please, please, please, do not conceal your budget from your designer. We work to create the best space for your needs within your budget. Your budget does not affect our design fee, we develop flat fees based on hourly estimations developed from experience. Concealing your budget from your designer will only cause detriment to the design.

5. Allow yourself time for in-depth planning and resourcing

Pre-application for permits once the design is nearly fleshed out and a solid floor plan has been developed is highly suggested. Designers will present multiple ideas and time should be given to thoroughly think over each aspect... then rethink them. Decisions need to be made, and minds changed, then changed back. 

We often find that we've been counting on a particular product just to find that it doesn't work, and this affects every other choice. Swapping out one finish or one manufacturer isn't as simple as just making that one change. It is a domino effect.

So, allow for this time. Allow several months to a year for the design process. Allow several months for permitting. Then, allow several months to a year for construction... and allow time for hiccups along the way.

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5.5 Step away from the cookie cutter

That's right, I just added a five and a half. It was an important comment that warranted its own number, but isn't really a step.... so....

I know it can save money to buy a spec home plan. I know there are plans online to be purchased. But, those plans do not know your site. They don't know your lifestyle. They may look good to the average, every day person, but a designer will see the flaws as they relate to you, your budget, and your lifestyle. So, if you absolutely must buy that online plan... use it as a starting point with your designer, not an end all.

6. Brace Yourself

I'm not kidding when I say there will be hiccups. I hear that our hearts stop every time we hiccup.. seems suiting. Be prepared to accept sudden changes in plan. Allow yourself to change your mind early on, but if you know yourself to be particularly indecisive, it may be best to allow the designer more space and meet less frequently. This allows them to come up with a cohesive design where every piece has a reason. Remember that changes mean change orders. Trust your designers!

It may not be what was expected, and with a quality designer it won't be. Good design doesn't follow the dotted lines or follow every trend in the book...