For many people, myself included, design is the most exciting part of any project — with the on-site construction a close second. During the design phase, you have the greatest influence over your project. By moving a line here or there or adding a window or skylight, you can dramatically influence the living space you’ll later inhabit.
Moving a window or partition at the design phase costs nothing; moving that same window or partition during construction will most likely entail an expensive change order. Also some design problems can’t be fixed. If the garage blocks the winter sun from entering the house, you’ll never enjoy free passive-solar heating and sunshine in the winter.
It’s a shame how many homes are built with serious design problems that could have been remedied with a little extra effort expended at the design phase, and at little or no cost. Poor energy performance, wasted space, awkward floor plans, cramped kitchens, poor natural lighting, and badly proportioned elevations could all have been fixed with a pencil. Space planning has become especially easy with today’s inexpensive design software, which allows anyone to walk though and view their project in 3-D from any angle or perspective with the click of a mouse.
So take the time to formulate a clear vision of your design goals and take the time to create and hone your design until it meets those goals and feels just right. Then seeing the project take shape on the site will still be very exciting, but have fewer surprises. You’ll know what to expect and will be happy with the results.