The Design-Build Process

Remodeled basement by Carpentry by Chris in Iowa City, Iowa.

Remodeled basement by Carpentry by Chris in Iowa City, Iowa.

The Design-Build process is a two-tiered method that consists of first designing a project, then building it.  The need to design a project before you build it may seem obvious.  Unfortunately, project design is a step that is often underdeveloped prior to the beginning of residential remodeling.

In commercial construction, plans are meticulously designed and reviewed by architects and engineers before the construction ever begins.  This is because the buildings are larger, cost much more to build and are much more difficult to design.  One reason that the planning and design process is so carefully focused is that commercial buildings are usually built for a specific purpose for a specific buyer.  It is far less expensive and easier to build a commercial building when you have all the plans, and have accounted for all the specific uses of the building.  The rule of thumb in engineering is that a mistake discovered during the construction process usually costs ten times what it would have cost if it were discovered in the planning process.

In residential construction, the buildings are much easier to construct, but the amount of detail to account for the specific needs of the owner is still very much necessary.  More often then not, general contractors decide the design of a new home and the functional aspects inside before anyone ever purchases the home.  This is one reason why it is common for those who purchase new homes to want to remodel. Because from day one it does not meet their exact needs either functionally or aesthetically.

The reason for residential remodeling is to address the functional or aesthetic problems within an existing structure so it suits the needs of the homeowners.  One key element of remodeling is to fix problems within an existing structure.  Within this element are two aspects, the visual and the functional.  If the problem is that a home does not have enough living space for the family, then a solution could be to build a room addition.

Visually, the new room needs to blend with the existing house and not be perceived as a box that was just stuck on to the house.  The new room also needs to be designed to accommodate all the ways the family will use the new space.  If the family needs the space to be a bathroom or an office, then the space must be big enough for those uses.  The new space not only needs to be the correct size and look good from the outside, but must also be designed to flow within the existing floor plan.

Functionally, all of the visual aspects are taken into account in order to choose the proper materials and building methods to solve the challenges that are part of working within an existing structure.  Some of the larger and more obvious issues are how the new room will be supported structurally, how to connect to the existing room without causing new problems to the existing structure, how to extend the mechanical elements like water, electric and phone service into the new space, and continue to maintain a level of comfort and security that the family should expect.

Remodeling is an expensive and time-consuming process.  Sometimes it’s the largest amount of money you will spend other then for the home itself.  Before spending thousands of dollars to undergo your remodeling project, isn’t it wise to invest only a fraction of the cost on planning and design to be sure that what you are buying is the best possible investment you can make.