For any project, a vision (a design) is needed—if you want it to be a great project. This is one of the main reasons to consult with a designer on a home remodel or new construction project: most homeowners are not designers and do not have the training and expertise that a designer has. A great designer can create a functional, safe, beautiful vision and plan with expert knowledge behind them that a homeowner or contractor cannot. This is why a designer can make or break your project—they provide the vision and help you achieve it, or not, depending on their experience and abilities.
It’s the designer’s role to create and mold that vision into an integrated and complete plan that can be built, and it’s the designer’s task to communicate that vision to the homeowner—through words, specifications, drawings, samples, etc.
The homeowner needs to communicate any desires, preferences, and needs they have, as well as budget and schedule constraints. And in my projects, the homeowner makes the final choices—it’s their project. But there is an additional responsibility the homeowner has to help allow this vision to come to life in construction. And this is the point of this posting—because in the flurry of design and construction, changes can happen that conflict with that ‘vision.’
The homeowner’s responsibility to keep that ‘vision’ and allow it to be constructed extends through to the end of the construction project. It does not end with the design phase. This is because the design phase doesn’t really end until the end of the project. In any construction project, things happen…..materials are delayed or unavailable, sometimes the designer or homeowner see more clearly once an item is partly constructed and decide to make a change, a homeowner changes his mind, sometimes the designer changes her mind, etc. It is not that this is a problem. In fact, this is the norm that things happen this way to some extent. But problems can occur when the designer is not consulted on all changes that occur, no matter how small.
If the designer and homeowner love the vision created, all parts of that plan contribute to that vision—if it is well integrated. Any change in materials, style, or details will either support that vision or detract from it. When a homeowner or contractor makes a change without consulting the designer, it might not adhere to the designer’s vision. And this can be a real shame.
As a designer who loves the design process and seeing my projects built, I emotionally buy into my projects. I get an intense joy from designing and seeing my finished projects. And my goal as a designer is to help my clients love my vision as much as I do. Every detail matters and because the designer is the ‘keeper’ of that vision, they are the one who should help with any changes in materials or scope, etc. Just as the designer selected the original material or item, they need to help with the selection of any replacement material or change to the design—if keeping that vision intact is the goal.
Here are just a few examples of changes that might occur in construction that the designer should be consulted about, but really, any change to an item the designer selected/designed or an addition to a project should be discussed with the designer before being implemented.
*the stone on a fireplace *the color and finish for a cabinet *the style, size, pattern, or color of a paver for a patio *the paint color for a room *the tile for a backsplash *the orientation of a floor tile or grout size or grout color *the mirror for a bathroom *the handle for a front door or interior doors *the color of an electrical plate
If the homeowner loves the design vision, he should help the designer to keep it intact and be aware that all of his choices affect the end result.