Looking For A Designer: Questions You Need To Ask

Guest Blogger: Michelle Wuchner
A.Sc.T.
P9 Designs Inc. (p9designs@sasktel.net)

You have decided to build a new home. Now you are looking for a designer.

Word of mouth can be one of the best ways to find a designer for your new home. Talk to family and friends who have built new homes. Local lumber yards will sometimes have a list of drafts people that they work with on a regular basis. Be sure to check with local builders as well. If you know that builder will be the one who builds your home, they may have a designer that they work with or they may have an in-house designer. In those cases, they may include the cost of the plans if you have them build your home. Some lumber yards may have an in-house designer where the cost of the plans may be included if the material package is bought through their business.
When calling different designers, fee structure is probably the biggest thing to discuss. Does the designer charge by the square foot, or by the hour? Do the have a base price that they start at? Is there a certain amount of design time allotted at that price? Are there any extra charges? (ie: walk out basement, finished basement, extra design time, etc.)

Some other questions to ask:
1) Does their software have 3D? Some may not feel this is terribly important, but it can help to visualize your home before you build it.
2) How many sets of plans are included? Does the designer include an electronic set that can be emailed? Having a set that is PDF will make the process easier for the builder to obtain quotes, especially for the floor and roof truss manufacturers.
Bring any and all your ideas to the meeting. A good designer will be take your ideas and make them happen and explain why a particular design element may not work. Looking online for ideas is a great way to show the designer what you envision. Websites like www.eplans.com and www.houseplans.com will have plans that you can search for ideas. If there are specific design elements that you are looking for, a website like www.houzz.com has great ideas for every aspect of your home.
Communication between you and your designer is important. If you are not happy with any aspect of the design, or talk to your designer. A designer should be able to take your ideas and work with you to make your ideas a reality.