We typically start projects from a blank sheet of paper. During an initial site visit, we evaluate any unusual topology of the building site and potential for views. We then begin designing a concept according to the client’s wishes and optimize the building’s layout to take advantage of views or avoid disturbance (noise, views to neighboring buildings) in an effort to increase the future quality of life in the building. We also take into account, and discuss with our clients, any choices on the shape of the structure that have an impact on material or labor costs, and present cost saving alternatives.
We then work with our drafters to get very detailed construction documents produced in an efficient and cost effective manner, which reduces questions and delays later during the building process.
We also discuss in detail the desired level of finishes desired by the client and present various options available to increase the well being of the structure’s occupants, energy efficiency and convenience or save costs.
When there is no or little impact on costs, we automatically choose the better alternative, for example:
- we provide in-house design services to creates a building that works for the client, prior to drafting any plans
- we use plastic modling for drywall corners rather than steel, which eliminates dents when you move furniture around or kids bump into corners. You can see here for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy5vXuL0wlg
- we use 3/4 water lines for any outside hosebibs, so you have more pressure and flow when washing cars, irrigating or filling the kids swimming pool
- walls around bedrooms are insulated for sound in order to make for a good night’s sleep
- ceilings are fully textured rather than stamped, to make for a high-end look
- we use decora light switches and outlets for a contemporarly look
- we normally install elongated and raised toilet bowls for more comfort
- we use foil backed OSB material for the roof deck, to help reflect some of the sun’s radiant heat back and reduce energy usage
- exterior walls are typically framed with 2×6 lumber to allow for more insulation, which in turn makes for a quieter and more energy efficient home
- all lighting uses LED technology for eergy efficiency and durability
- a “dryer box” is installed behind the dryer to prevent messy dryer vent hoses from taking up space
- buildings and windows are oriented according to possible views, while minimizing views of neighboring structures and facing away from possible environmental noise
- we try to incorporate principles of Feng Shui in our plan designs whenever possible, to make for a more harmonious and pleasant space to live in
The following are examples of available upgrades that are discussed with clients:
- we can install super efficient electric “heat pump” water heaters that reduce the cost of hot water to a few dollars a month
- we can use thicker 5/8″ drywall inside the house to reduce sound transmission and make for a more solid and fire resistant building
- we can insulate the house using a combination of closed cell foam with other insulation materials to provide additional energy efficiency, air tightness and sound reduction at a reasonable cost. For those with asthma or sensitivity to chemicals, we can also discuss insulating with 100% natural wool bats. We can also use natural (milk based) paints to eliminate a lot of VOCs from the living space.
- we can discuss the installation of home automation features including smart light switches, garage door openers, doorbells, smoke detectors, blinds and more
- instead of installing lower end factory made cabinets that use particle board with wood veneers, we can install fully custom all wood cabinets for a minimal additional cost
- we can design an outdoor shower into your bathroom for a nominal additional cost
- we can design your AC system with zone controllers or attic mounted mini split units for additional comfort and steep energy savings while operating the building
- several upgrades are available for interior doors, including 8ft tall doors, solid core doors (resist denting and helps with soundproofing) as well as casing-less kerf doors for a contemporary look
- we can discuss a whole house water filtration system that will provide drinking quality water at all faucets (including in the shower and bathtub) at a reasonable cost
- a central vacuum system can be worthwhile option if you intent to live in the property for a long time
- many clients like to have gas cooking appliances. This is possible at a reasonable cost even when gas service is not available at the property
- do you need a special plug in your garage or carport to charge an electric car?
- do you need wiring for an alarm system, a music distribution system, an intercom, cable TV or an ethernet network?
- if you are contemplating installing electric blinds, we can install electric outlets in window frames
- would you like to plan an auxiliary dwelling unit into your home, that can be rented out later to provide additional retirement income when children have left the nest?
- what is your plan for solar panels? Do you want to install any as your home is being built? Do you plan to install them later, so we should orient the roof towards the south when we plan the building, and make sure the roof structure can support future panels? Or would you rather superinsulate your building and use energy efficient heating and cooling so that solar panels are not needed at all?
Our in-house interior designer coordinates the choices of finishes (flooring, countertops, cabinet materials and layouts, paint etc) with each client according to their individual taste and style, as part of our standard builder’s fee, to ensure an attractive design at the lowest possible cost.
We use a cloud based building management system which allows clients to follow their construction schedule and many other aspects of their build, as well as facilitate document exchange and storage.