PODCAST 11 - How to Choose a Designer for Your New Home

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Transcript of Build Your Dream Home Podcast - Episode 11:

Mark Mathis:

This is the Build Your Dream Home Podcast with Mark Mathis, episode 11.


Always wanted to build your dream house, but not sure where to start? You're in the right place. Welcome to the Build Your Dream Home Podcast, where experts in the industry share their knowledge and help you to be one step closer to building your dream home. And here's your host, Mark Mathis.

Mark Mathis:

Hey everybody, this is Mark Mathis with houseplangallery.com and the Build Your Dream Home Podcast. I really appreciate you taking the time to listen today and I hope you're having a great fall so far. I know down here in Baton Rouge, the football season has gotten going and LSU is playing so the world feels right again. It's a strange place to be in Baton Rouge or in the SEC area when it's not football season or there's not some sports going on. So we played Wisconsin last week, but then we played Sam Houston State last week, so that was not very close, but the Wisconsin game was actually pretty close. So we're having a good time, we go out there and tailgate a little bit and go to the games whenever we can, but with all these kids it's kind of difficult sometimes.

So anyway, today's podcast is on how to choose a good house designer. So last week we talked about how to choose a good builder and this week we're going to be talking more about the actual house planners themselves that come before the actual building process actually starts. So if you've not had a chance already, we'd love for you to go out to iTunes, and you can get there by going to houseplangallery.com/subscribe and adding in a review of our podcast. It helps us with our rankings in iTunes and helps more people to find out about the podcast itself.

I wanted to give a quick shout out to one of the people who's gone out and actually left a review on the site. And this one is by khoni816. So Khoni, if you're out there, I really appreciate it. The title is good content. "I'm brand new to this, but I've always wanted to build a dream home. Not sure how or where to start. It's great info and I'll definitely be using it in the near future. So, thanks."

So thank you again Khoni, and if you have a review you'd like to leave, we'd love for you to go out there and do a star rating and leave us a review and just let us know what you like and how we can improve in different topics that you're interested in. And that always helps us.

Again, always you can send us an email at sales@houseplangallery.com and just let us know if there's any other topics that you'd like to cover. But before we get started, let's play a quick message from our sponsors.


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Mark Mathis:

We want to get into the content of this episode and that's how to find a good home designer. So obviously before you contact the builder or you get a cost to build estimates on how much a house is going to cost to actually build, you need to actually have the house planned. So you're going to either choose a home designer that's local to you or also you can buy obviously stock house plans from designers that live wherever and then if you need to have them modified for your local conditions, then you can definitely have that done. So number one, the first thing that you need to consider is local versus elsewhere.

If you're bound and determined that you need to have someone there local in your area to do your house plans, well those are probably going to be custom house plans. And with custom house plans, as you're probably aware, it's a very different process from stock house plans in that there's a longer time period that's required to actually put together the ideas, go through preliminary drawings, approve everything, and then actually get your final working drawings. Also, there's typically more cost upfront to actually do those because those are going to be a custom design.

Stock plans, on the other hand, you can get those many times the same day. We can email those out to you if you choose PDFs, and there's a lot of home designers that offer a lot of different architectural styles to fit basically every budget and you know interest out there.

In your local area, another negative is that you may not have someone in your local area that is good at doing the type of design that you're looking for. For example, if you're in South Mississippi and you're looking for a Miami-type design or an Adobe-type design like you'd see in Arizona, you're just not going to find too many people out here that are able to do that. So rather than not being able to get the architectural style that you'd like, you can actually find a stock plan that fits that style by a home designer who typically specializes in that particular architectural style.

In South Mississippi, we see a lot of traditional country and craftsman houses, also some French country, and that's what we actually specialize in, is those design styles. So you'll typically find that designers specialize in the architectural styles that are prevalent in the area in which they live, and that's just due to a market conditions.

You want to be able to sell what's selling and so you're not going to sell many Arizona-style houses in South Mississippi because of the flat roofs in the materials they use and things like that. So anyway, you need to determine, first of all, if you absolutely have to have someone there locally or if you are open to the idea of stock house plans.

Secondly, you want to get recommendations and referrals. Now, if it's a local building designer or architect, those will be easier to get. With designers that are actually located in different cities than you, you'll need to look on their website or look online for actual testimonials.

That's number three, any designer that you choose should be able to provide you with testimonials from their previous clients that can speak to the quality of the work, experience, the quality of the plans, and their happiness with the project, so that's extremely important. And if you go out to our website at https://houseplangallery.com/pages/testimonials, you'll be able to seek hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of testimonials from happy, satisfied customers that we've had before all over the United States and Canada, and we've even sold some internationally.

I just wanted to read one that I found. This was actually sent in on a handwritten letter, so we transcribed it and I'll include a link to this in the show, https://houseplangallery.com/blogs/news/podcast-11-how-to-choose-a-designer-for-your-new-home.   

So this particular testimonial was for our plan HPG-1855-1: The King Road. Now when you go through these and look through these, the stories that these people tell are really uplifting and they make us feel really good as home designers to be able to provide them with something that was so meaningful to them.

So this is how the testimonial goes, and I'm reading from our site, "Before anything else you should know that I wish with everything in me that there wasn't a reason for this new house. Four and a half years ago, my wife and I were leading an ideal life. We were just starting to relax in our retirement and taking great joy from watching our four sons’ families grow. But a head-on collision changed everything. It was one of our oldest sons, one of my twins. For a while, we didn't believe he'd survive and in a way my son, Chris, who I'd loved for 43 years didn't.

Chris is now 48 now, he's paralyzed on his left side and suffers from extensive brain damage. He requires total care, which his mother and I give round the clock. His medical condition is the reason for our new house. Our old home was very secluded, which at one time we loved, but since Chris has frequent seizures, we need an ambulance to be able to find us fast. Also, we needed to be closer to his doctors and physical therapists, whom he sees three times a week.

The most imperative need for building though is that everything must be handicapped accessible. I'm 70 and my wife Betty is 68 years old, so the idea of not having to fight his chair through doorways or squeezed down halls is quite appealing, and we're looking forward to the handicap bathroom like kids look forward to Christmas. I love the large rooms in this home design and the layout is absolutely perfect for our needs with no wasted space.

While I continue to pray, my child will be made whole again and we wouldn't need this new house, it will be a great blessing and we're very eager for the relief it will bring to our lives. This is a great house for our family's needs and we would definitely recommend House Plan Gallery home designs to anyone. Ronald W from Atlanta."

If you listened to that, you can know how important it is to find out these are actual stories from customers who have built these designer's home designs. So definitely go out to our site and check that out. I'll include a link in the show notes to actually be able to go out there and see those for yourself.

Okay next, the professionalism of the website. You'll see that many designers have very amateur looking, remedial looking websites. You'll want to know that you're dealing with a professional, so always check out the professionalism of their website, make sure that they have a phone number that is easily accessible and that you can call and make sure that they reply to your questions on a timely basis. Make sure that it's an attractive site that they take pride in. Make sure that they have, again, testimonials that they have, special reports ideally. They have videos, they have walkthrough videos of the actual homes that have been created, all those types of things. You'll know immediately when you look at the website of a home designer if they're professional or not.

Okay fifth, the professionalism of their plan presentation materials. Now, this is a pet peeve of mine that many designers put up just normal stick drawings like you do in AutoCAD or any of the other programs and they don't invest the time and money to do a high quality color rendering, either computer generated or even a photo of a constructed house. And that just drives me crazy because you spend all the time as a designer to develop a plan that fits all of the needs of your client and you want to present it in the most appealing light possible, obviously.

So we invest a tremendous amount of money and time and actually having high quality, high resolution computer generated renderings done for any new plans that we come out with. And you'll definitely need to look at that as well. That again lends itself to the professionalism of the actual designer and you can tell a lot about that designer and what you can expect from your final product. So definitely look at their plan presentation materials, the crispness of their images, their floor plans, how well they look, the information, and data that's presented on the website. So those are all different things that you'll want to take a look at.

Next, you'll want to look at easily accessible contact information. You'll want a phone number, email address, fax, or anything that you're comfortable with.  They should be able to provide for you and not hide that information on the site. We try to put our contact information anywhere and everywhere on the site and we respond very quickly in our business.

Next, you'll want to look again for those designers that specialize in the same architectural style that you're interested in, that's very important. Each designer specializes in a particular architectural style and that's typically influenced by where they live in the particular country. So definitely look for people who are specialized in that, that way you'll get a product that meets all of your expectations.

Next, you'll want to look for designers that offer plan walkthrough videos and constructed home pictures. Now as a designer, we definitely can't have pictures of every single home that we offer and we've sold to other people because they just don't become available very often. What we'll see many times is people will finish building their home and they don't have enough money to really furnish it super nicely and they maybe don't have the landscaping in and so we don't really get good high quality pictures back that often. It does happen from time to time, and any of those we put up immediately on our website so you can see actually how the constructed home looks.

But over and above the constructed home pictures, we try to do walk throughs of homes that are around our geographic area in South Mississippi, and we'll actually go there and videotape those and go through and talk about all the different features, what items were actually modified from the original plans, just so people can get a better feel for what it actually looks like when it's constructed.

Now, many designers are going to be old school and maybe they don't have the knowledge or ability to create videos and put them on their website or maybe they don't know how to edit their website, those types of things. You should run scared from those people. This is a 2014 as I'm recording this and there's just no reason not to have that currently. So if you go on houseplangallery.com you'll notice that we have dozens and dozens of videos of actually constructed homes on there that you can check out and pictures as well.

Next, you'll want a designer who can do modifications on their own plans in-house. Now nowadays, most designers when you buy a stock plan, they'll be able to actually modify those to fit your exact needs. However, there are those who outsource the modification process to a third party. Now, no outsource firm is going to be able to know the plan inside and out as well as the actual designer, and they'll be able to answer any specific questions about how to deal with any issues that come up with the modifications that you'd like. And typically your price is going to be better and your turnaround time is going to be a lot better as well because they have all the materials right there, they don't have to get reacquainted with the plan, they know exactly what it's all about. So definitely look for someone who can do modifications in-house.

Next, you'll want to deal directly with a designer versus a broker. Now the difference between the two, a designer is an individual home designer that has a collection of house plans, stock house plans that they offer. Now this might be anywhere from 10 to several hundred to several thousand, and they each typically have their own website, like houseplangallery.com, those are all our plans. No other designers market their plans on that site. Now that being said, there are brokers out there, when you do searches for house plans or whatever on Google, you'll find mainly broker sites that come up and these are larger sites that broker a lot of different designer's plans. And the benefit with that is that they are able to offer a lot of different architectural styles, a lot of different sizes, and a lot of different options.

And so if you're able to find a direct designer and a plan in their collection that you like, then that's probably always going to be best because you're dealing directly with the designer and they can do your modifications, they can answer any questions for you, and typically you're going to get a better price as well.  It's not always necessary. You can definitely buy directly through a broker and you'll get a fine product. You'll get the exact same product, however you'll be going through an intermediary and if you have any additional questions, it's just easier typically to go direct to the designer.

So, I hope that was helpful. Again, in this episode we're talking about how to find a good designer. If you have any questions, just go out to our show notes page https://houseplangallery.com/blogs/news/podcast-11-how-to-choose-a-designer-for-your-new-home  and you'll see all the links to everything that we've talked about in the show. Again, we very much appreciate you, we appreciate your business. Thank you so much for listening to this podcast. And again, if you have any questions, just let us know. And until next time, I hope you have a blessed day.


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