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Preparing for Your Initial Home Design Meeting

Meeting with the home designer is one of the first and most important steps in a new construction home. This article will give you some great ideas to prepare to have the most effective and streamlined initial meeting with your builder. Yes, there is a lot to think about when initially meeting to discuss design, especially if it is a completely custom build, but these resources, along with your RMG Real Estate agent and your trusted and vetted home builder should have you feeling great about the beginning of this new construction home building process!

What is your home design vision?

Be ready to talk with the home designer about everything from the size of what you are wanting to build to the specific architectural style of home you want to build. This is when pictures are going to be worth 1000 words! A well curated (not overly busy or full) Pinterest board or “mood board” is really helpful to begin this conversation. Gather inspiration from driving around neighborhoods in your area where you really love the design of the homes. Take pictures of those homes (but don’t be creepy about it!) Do you want outlying storage buildings to match the main house’s style, talk about it. Do you want a mother-in-law place built in, talk about it. Know how many bedrooms, bathrooms, extra rooms for family meeting spaces or office, how many garages, all of that is where you’re going to start with the design, unless you’re already working from a set of plans available from the builder. Even then, you will need to know any extras or upgrades to add to the existing structure though!

Along these same lines, check out your options ahead of time. Go to your local home improvement store and browse the aisles. Make note of what colors stand out to you – warm tones (your browns/creams/tans) or cooler tones (your crisp whites/grays). Stick to one option or the other for continuity throughout your home’s finishes. Notice the styles of windows on display, the color of appliances (white versus stainless versus black, etc.), tile style….all of this is going to come into play and having an idea of what you like to begin with is really going to help your home designer not waste time with designs that you dislike!

What do you like and what do you not like about where you live now?

Don’t overlook this simple step! Walk around your home and take notes of what you like or dislike about your current space. Does the enclosed kitchen feel good to you or not? What’s your favorite thing about your best friend’s houses? What kind of cool cabinetry have you seen in some homes that you may incorporate into your build? How do you want your house to flow when people walk in? Do you want all bedrooms to be on the same floor, or separated? Think about as much of this as you can before your meeting and COME WITH NOTES so you don’t overlook anything!

Determine your “must haves” versus your “nice to haves” 

Another list of things to have at the meeting is your absolute must haves versus your “nice to haves.” Each person building is going to vary on this, so be sure to spend some time before the meeting talking about all the options and get on the same page with your significant other so you don’t waste your time during the home design meeting. And with that, keep your expectations in check. There may be items on your “must haves” list that after reviewing the pros and cons of your entire list with your home designer, you may come to realize are not actually a deal breaker. It could come down to budget or simply that it doesn’t make sense in your space or property, so just come with an open mind to the meeting as well! 

How much are you planning on spending?

This goes without saying, but being prequalified with your mortgage lender beforehand is absolutely essential. Your RMG Real Estate agent can put you in touch with a trusted lender. Knowing what you are spending and what is or is not within your budget availability will greatly help your home designer, especially when it comes to your “must haves” versus “nice to haves” list…If your home designer adds all the things from your “must have” list, then you can begin to add things from your “nice to have” list and continue to add upgrades to the finishes. 

Do you have special needs that the home designer should consider?

Some special needs could include everything from special storage for gear for a specific hobby you enjoy to collections that you want a specific place for to display in your home to any sort of handicap access you want in the home. It’s important to think through all of this. Along these same lines, special needs could also include lighting and electrical upgrades, sound system in the home, or anything like this that would cost a lot of extra money to put in after the initial build. 

Who is the decision maker and point of contact?

Having one person in your family to be the point of contact for the designer and home builder should help to lower the chance of miscommunication and streamline the process overall. Make sure you make that person clear moving forward during the build!

Some final advice:

-Go in with clarity and notes, the more prepared you are, the better you’ll feel walking out of the meeting

-Get clarity for action items and a timeline of when the home designer will need those decisions from you after the initial meeting

-Think about the time of day for your meeting and when you can think the most clearly

-Make sure you are not hungry, but you are also not going in after lunch with a full stomach which could make it more difficult to think about the details

-Don’t rush in through the meeting, but don’t linger either….give yourself sufficient time to get all your questions answered and remember you can always ask follow-up questions with the designer later. Don’t schedule something too close after the meeting, in case it runs longer than anticipated

-Be prepared to shell out some cash for upgrades during your home design meeting. Ask your builder what that is beforehand and what form of payment is required (cash, money order, certified check, etc), so you aren’t surprised at the meeting!

-Don’t obsess over your decisions. Make a choice after weighing your options and trust your choice!

-TAKE PICTURES OF EVERY SELECTION YOU CHOOSE! You’re going to have a hard time remembering all the details when you get home. Document your choices and double check them with what the home design mockup looks like so you are 100% satisfied with the final product

Now, we want to encourage you that this list is a great starting point, but it is in no way a completely comprehensive list. There are A LOT of decisions to be made when building a new construction home. Trust your instincts and know what you want. The home designer, builder, and your realtor will really be able to provide you with some great insight as well. This list of things is just for that initial home design meeting so know that it’s a really thorough starting place and things can be amended from that first meeting. You’ve got this! Have fun and enjoy the process!


For more information, check out these two articles where we found some of these tips to share:

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