Construction Consultant

Architecture & Building, Construction Consultant, Interior Design, News

Tips for how best to work with your Interior Designer

Interior design is not so much about furnishings, artwork, knick-knacks, cushions and throws. It’s about functionality, practicality, cohesiveness, flow and making the most of every space in your home. 

Ideally, interior designers are best utilised right from the inception phase of your home design. Rather than considering interior design an additional or unnecessary expense, it’s an investment that will add genuine value to your home. 

Because of their experience with new builds, especially when it comes to selecting colour palettes, fittings, appliances, and making big design decisions – while sticking to the design brief, ordering goods in for specific stages AND keeping it within budget – they can also facilitate a good builder-client relationship. Here’s how to get the most out of your interior designer. 

  1. Find the perfect match for YOU. A good interior designer should be adept enough to jump from urban studio to industrial warehouse, rustic farmhouse to coastal getaway without skipping a beat.

Other than looking for parallels between the design you want and their previous work, look for someone you feel comfortable communicating with.

  1. Scrapbook examples. Even if you don’t have trouble articulating your desired look, pictures of rooms you love can instantly give the designer a sense of your vision. Point out specific aspects that resonate, along with what doesn’t. 

Fabric and paint swatches, furniture and Pinterest boards are other good sources. In turn, examples of colours, motifs/patterns, furniture and styles you don’t like can be equally helpful.

  1. Discuss which pieces must stay in advance. Unwilling to forego your heirloom 1920’s buffet or your glazed pottery collection? That’s okay. Your designer can work out how to display those pieces in your new home so they don’t look out of place, and also celebrate them as they should be – as long as you share that information during the initial consultation.
  2. Engage the designer as early as possible. Include the designer in the planning stages with your architect and builder so everyone is on the same page — particularly when it comes to the ‘bones’, such as doorways, ceiling beams, fixtures, right down to lighting and electrical points. It’s one thing to reorientate a window on plans; it’s another entirely to move it after installation.
  3. Clarify billing procedures up-front. Find out at the beginning when you’ll be charged and what for. In addition to the design, you may be billed for travel time, site visits, shopping, phone conversations and more. Ask how you’ll be billed for furnishings, materials or other items so you can anticipate fairly closely what and when to pay.
  4. Keep an open mind. It’s unlikely that you’ll absolutely adore 100 percent of your designer’s suggestions immediately. If they recommend a piece of furniture, a pattern, wallpaper or colour combination that you’re not so sure about, don’t say no without giving the idea some time to sink in. 

Be upfront and tell them you’re not sold on it…. yet. Chances are, when they tell you why they chose it, you’ll come to appreciate the reason it works. 

  1. Trust them. Just because you don’t love everything they suggest, it doesn’t mean they have no idea what you want or that they’re the wrong designer for you. Stay calm and just be honest. 

If you’ve had the heavy burden of selecting wall paint before, you’ll understand the anxiety that comes with picking the perfect shade of white from the 500 available. Right there is the reason you hired an interior designer in the first place! 

These are the tasks that you’re paying them to lose sleep over, so you don’t have to! But they don’t need you to micro-manage them so try to hand over the reigns and let it all come together. 

 

Architecture & Building, Construction Consultant, Custom Builder, Interior Design, News

Integrating smart home technology in your new home

If you’re building your own home in 2020, you have a unique opportunity to achieve true home automation by implementing smart home technology into your design from the early planning stages. 

Imagine waking to your favourite song; your blinds letting in the light while you’re still snug under the covers. Imagine your coffee pouring into your favourite mug while you’re singing in the shower. Your mower tidying up the lawn and then putting itself back on charge in the shed.

Imagine being notified that it’s raining and you’ve left a window open, or walking through your front door after a hectic day to find your dinner in a hot oven, almost ready to serve….

‘Who is this mystery man?!’ you ask. No, this is no man, live-in butler or maid and this isn’t the set of ‘Back to the Future’. This is all now possible with the latest smart home technology. 

We’re now living in the ‘ask and you shall receive’ age and there’s bound to be a smart gadget or system to deliver every smart idea you’ve ever had.

What do you NEED?

As a starting point, ask yourself what you need. Integrated smart home technology won’t necessarily increase your home’s value, so the integrations must benefit you and your family. 

A smart coffee machine won’t be of any use if no one in the house drinks coffee. Perhaps you want to make energy savings or a state-of-the-art entertainment suite. 

Is home security is at the top of your list? If you have various people coming and going, perhaps a system that allows temporary access without giving outsiders a key would put your mind at ease.

Whatever it is, know your smart home needs from the outset and don’t get distracted by the latest gadgets if they won’t serve your lifestyle.

Get busy planning and researching products now.

When your smart-tech planning starts before building commences, you can focus on implementing the right infrastructure to support it, that will accommodate the latest technology and withstand future advances and innovations. 

The number one smart home essential is Smart Wiring and this happens at the framing stage before the walls are up. Smart wiring is a system that combines multiple wires into a single platform, allowing the integration of various smart home systems and sensors, with the capacity to add more later.

USB points are also essential in today’s connected lifestyle – where everyone in the family seems to have at least 10 or more gadgets to charge up by USB. Trust us, these won’t be a wasted commodity in any household!

It goes without saying, the foundation of any good smart-home is a strong internet connection, additional data points and a high-quality router to handle all the new smart devices that use your network to make your life easier. Without that, a smart home is not very smart at all!

Architecture & Building, Construction Consultant, News

How to have a good relationship with your builder

Building a high-end home may occupy up to a few years of your life. Spending that much time with someone is what some might consider a ‘long-term relationship’, and just like any relationship, both parties must work at building, nurturing and maintaining it. 

Rest assured, many real, life-long friendships have formed between builder and client and your new home will be better for having a harmonious foundation! Read on for a few tips for building a great relationship with your builder.

Respect.

All good relationships are built on mutual respect. Respect that your builder is a professional with years of knowledge and experience – that’s why you have chosen them for the job. Likewise, the builder needs to respect that it’s your dream home and your money funding the project. 
As long as there are mutual respect and consideration, things should remain positive and the relationship will strengthen over time.

Communication.

Equally important as respect is to a relationship, clear and open communication is also key. Most builders aren’t mind-readers and would prefer to cut to the chase to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and confusion, which will make the process more stressful than it needs to be.

Open clear lines of communication from the beginning. Share phone numbers and emails. Decide who will be the point of contact for both sides to reduce the chances of conflicting conversations to derail the project.

Set clear expectations.

Make your expectations clear from the very beginning. A good builder will listen and give you options to what they think is reasonably possible based on their experience, professional opinion, and your budget.

It’s also important to discuss expectations about communication and quality. Do you expect a daily or weekly update? Should your builder expect you to stop by the site regularly or would they prefer to call you first? What quality level do you expect?

Finally, make sure it’s spelled out in the contract so there are no disputes later on. 

Understand that changes will happen.

No matter how well a build is planned, understand that unforeseen factors can and will come into play. If you’re the type to break out in hives if your lunch plans change, you may need to practice some meditation.

Accept that changes, delays and problems are a part of nearly every build. The only thing you can’t count on is when to expect them!

It’s best if you can have a conversation about how to handle changes at the onset so everything’s clear before you begin building. If you’re making design changes after the build is underway it can throw things off and create a lot of extra work.

Life happens and can get in the way, but don’t let it unravel your relationship.

Architecture & Building, Construction Consultant, News

Steps to building a custom home

While the steps of building a high-end custom home with a boutique builder like Merit Homes are generally similar to that of building a cookie-cutter home with a commercialised home builder, there are several parts of the custom build process that are unique and require a lot more thought, input and hands-on involvement. 

That’s the best part, though. You become an integral part of bringing your dream to life.

You choose your team;

make the decisions;

determine the style and design;

select all the elements; 

and you can hand over as much or as little of the process as you like.

We’ve put together a general representation of the custom home-build process. Every experience will be unique, but the basic road map and final destination are the same. 

Read on for a brief overview and return back soon to delve into each step in more detail.

Dare to Dream

Homes are built from a single dream. You find inspiration in the strangest places. You gather a collection of wonderful, sometimes wacky ideas. You obsessively research products and new technology, building materials, design and locations. The dream grows over months and even years, until one day… you’re finally ready.

Budget and feasibility 

Speak with your accountant, financial planner and bank about the financial feasibility of your project and put together a budget. Allow 10-20% of your total budget for a contingency or emergency fund. Unbudgeted surprise expenses are guaranteed, and not allowing for them could mean not being able to complete the build.

Build your dream team

Your core team will be made up of your architect, builder and interior designer. It’s most important to build an open, honest and comfortable working relationship so that everyone is on the same page. 

Remember to draw on your team’s knowledge and expertise for guidance. You don’t do this every day – they do. Be open to change and different ideas and have trust in their input.

Finance

Finalise your finance and budget. It’s important to be upfront about your budget with your team from the beginning so they can design a home to suit. 

Find your build site

Location is the most important part so don’t rush it. Consider the view but also the site costs, accessibility, excavation, council zoning and restrictions. Can you build what you want? As well as your real estate agent, work with your solicitor and architect to identify suitable sites. 

Architectural design

You’ve purchased the block, now you can move into the design phase.  

There are 4 steps to the architectural design process: 

Programming; 

Schematic design; 

Design development; and 

Construction drawings. 

Feel the earth move!

Once the design is complete and your permits are in place, it’s time to prepare the site for the construction phase. This means excavation, ensuring utility connections are going to the site and ready to connect, and everything is ready for construction to commence.

Construction

Remember, an expansive custom home like yours will take much longer to complete than a mass-produced standard-built home – and so it should! You can help by making timely decisions to help prevent unnecessary delays.

Finishing touches

As your home is near ready to occupy, you can start planning the finishing touches. But beware: our insurance doesn’t allow external contractors to complete works while we’re still on site. 

Get everything ordered and ready to go by all means, but don’t book in any on-site appointments or installations until we’ve signed off and moved out.

Move in!