If this is your first home construction project, you may be wondering what to expect from your design team during a home renovation or new home construction. What will the process be like, how does it unfold, and what do you need to do?

In this three-part series, I’m walking you through the three design phases of home construction and renovation, so you’ll know exactly what to expect – and what will be expected of you. The three phases of design are:

  1. Schematic design
  2. Design development
  3. Construction documentation

In this article, I’ll introduce you to the second phase of home design: design development.

Design development is where things start getting fun for a lot of homeowners. Once we have consensus on the schematic design, we start thinking about how your completed home will look. This is the first time you’ll get a glimpse of the finished home build project, and it starts to feel real.

What Is Design Development?

Essentially, the design development phase is all about fleshing out the intersection of art and function. There’s a lot to review and talk about, but it’s a lot more fun than the schematic design phase of your home build project. And, you’ll get to see for the first time how your renovated home will look.

During this phase, my job is to take the schematic design and develop it into a robust understanding of how the space will feel and function. I’ll create a lot of drawings to show you — everything from electrical plans to elevations, section cuts, and other technical drawings.

Best yet, you’ll get to see plenty of three-dimensional models that give you a good sense of what your finished home will look and feel like. You can even download an app and walk through the three-dimensional model virtually.

It’s critical to think about how the space will be lived in on a day-to-day basis. My goal is to not only understand how you will use the space, but also to understand what will bring you happiness within that space. Your home will be designed around how you live and what you love.

Meet Your Interior Designer

Once we have a good sense of the technical design decisions, I’ll introduce you to Mandi, Giraffe’s maestro of interior design. Mandi has an incredible talent for bringing homeowners’ design tastes to life with a stunning, cohesive pallet.

When Mandi steps in, she’ll guide conversations about selecting the materials and finishes that will inhabit your home, while I produce drawings and refine them after each meeting. My role starts to diminish into the background and her role becomes more prominent.

Mandi will work with you to choose final selections of materials that will be in your house – from tile to countertops to cabinet finishes to light fixtures, and more. This can take a long time, and she’s willing to go on as many shopping excursions as you need, until you’ve found the right tile or drawer pull.

She’s also a fantastic listener – Mandi truly gets a homeowner’s aesthetic preferences at an intuitive level, whether they’re more traditional tastes or modern tastes.

Keys to Success

There’s a lot going on during the design development of your home renovation, and you may feel some decision fatigue. That’s normal, and completely understandable. To lighten the load, it can be helpful to rely on a few keys to success.

Success Story: Transforming a Drab Basement into a Warm Sanctuary

Find the right design-build firm

Perhaps the best thing you can do happens when you’re first interviewing design-build firms. It makes all the difference when you find a company that has a good relational fit with you. A home design and build project isn’t like transacting with a vendor – you want a design-build firm that will truly be a partner with you through a months-long process.

Having a good cultural fit is more important than the bottom dollar. When it’s your home you’re designing, you can’t put a price tag on the success of a project.

Be patient

As with the schematic design phase, design development is highly iterative. Mandi and I will constantly solicit feedback from you to understand how you will use the design. We’ll take that feedback, refine our designs, and come back with an updated version for your input.

All that work takes time. A small bathroom remodel could be as little as 2-3 meetings, but a much larger project, like a new house construction, could take as long as six months.

Trust your designers

It can be a little scary to place your hopes and dreams for your home in the hands of a designer who might not share your aesthetic tastes. What assurances do you have that you’ll see a concept that you’ll fall in love with?

It can be helpful to remember that your designer has been working with a wide range of tastes and styles for years. Every homeowner is different, and a good designer has to be able to remove their own tastes from the picture. At Giraffe Design Build, the project is only a success if the design is unique to you.

Handpicked related reading: 10 Home Design Trends in 2020 That We’re Excited About

Speak your mind

If you don’t like something, don’t hesitate to say so. A good designer needs to hear that kind of feedback, and they won’t be personally hurt. Honest input helps us determine how to move forward.

I believe it’s just as important for me to hear when you don’t like something as it is when you do.

Some designers have thinner skin than others, and we all want our clients to like our ideas – but ultimately, it’s not about our preferences. After all, I’m not the one who has to live with it.

Ask questions

I go through this process every day, and sometimes it’s easy to forget that homeowners don’t know the home design process as well as I do. While I do my best to explain everything, some things slip by.

Don’t be afraid to say you don’t understand something, or to ask for further explanation. A great deal of my work is to bring you along on the journey. That means helping you to understand the design process.

Home Design With You in Mind

Giraffe Design Build puts design as the focus of our work. We are very intentional about the designers we add to the team, because our purpose is to be at the forefront of design — to offer nationally-recognized designs, with a build team that can execute at the highest level of craftsmanship.

If you’re looking for a home design-build company that walks with you at your own pace through every phase of the design process, connect with us. You have our promise to find a design that embodies who you are and sparks delight.

Let's start a conversation