So you want to build a beach house...

You fell in love with the beach. You stayed an extra few days to soak it all in. You followed your curiosity and called the number on the for sale sign...just for kicks. One thing led to another and before you knew it, you’ve purchased your own piece of sand with views that take your breath away. Now, it's time to take the next step and build the home where you and your family will make so many memories. Summer vacations, fall escapes, a new place to spend Christmas where starfish take the place of snowflakes.

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Here’s where all of those hours you’ve spent scrolling through Houzz, watching HGTV and flipping through dog-eared pages of Coastal Living come in handy. But you quickly learn, there’s so much more to building on the coast, especially from six hours away. After deciding on a house plan and hiring your contractor, the real work begins.

Anyone who’s been through the process will tell you that there are hundreds of decisions to make both large and small. With every decision, there are dozens if not hundreds of options. I’m no mathematician, but I can tell you with certainty, that adds up to what can be an overwhelming number of choices! It can be like speaking a foreign language in a foreign country where everything is moving pretty fast.

Just in the way that you’d never think of traveling to a place you’ve never been without a tour guide or an interpreter, it’s important to enlist professionals that can guide you through the process with their expertise. We are very fortunate here to have reputable contractors that are skilled and trustworthy. But their responsibility doesn’t typically extend into the realm of paint colors, tile, flooring, light fixtures, etc.

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[when building]

 

It’s important to enlist professionals that can guide you through the process with their expertise.

-Jessica Faircloth, Lemongrass Interiors

This is where Lemongrass Interiors comes in. I have over 21 years’ experience in and around new construction and I am well-suited to help you speak this new language and not only make it through the process, but actually enjoy it with less stress. I can be both your guide and your interpreter. I am well-versed in construction terms, methods and codes. Moreover I know most of the contractors in the area, and I usually know each of the subcontractors and have developed a repore with them.

In many cases homeowners call me in somewhere after the rough-in stage because they begin to realize pretty quickly that the decisions come hard and fast. In every case they end up saying they wish they had brought me on when pilings were going in. From experience I can say that the best time to bring in a designer is before the walls are framed. The best and least expensive time to make changes is on paper. Your floor plan is set and will probably stay set, but now is the time to review window placement and sizes. This is where a furniture plan (typically provided by a designer) is crucial. Now is the time to decide bathroom & kitchen design because it’s expensive and time consuming to move studs. Do you want recessed inserts in your showers? Is it important to have those centered on the wall or in a specific location? Is your laundry room truly functional for your needs?

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enlisting the services of a seasoned designer saves time, reduces stress and makes the whole construction journey more enjoyable. 

-Jessica Faircloth, Lemongrass Interiors

This is all before we enter the land of siding details, handrails, paint colors, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, handles, knobs, trim profiles, tile designs, cabinets, countertops and more. An interior designer worth his or her salt (Me! Me!) can not only help you achieve the look you want, but will direct you toward the choices that make the most sense for your budget and needs. I think one of the worst feelings is to fall in love with a backsplash only to realize it’s three times your budget allowance or have your heart set on a beautiful countertop that stains easily. Does that mean you have to give up on the fabulous backsplash or countertop? Not necessarily. One of my favorite challenges is to find the next best product that meets as many of your requirements as possible. Most of my clients would tell you...I spend your money like I would spend mine. I’ll help you save where you can save. And when it's time to splurge, I’ll advise you there as well.

There are so many areas in our lives where we wouldn’t think of proceeding without a professional’s guidance. Building a new home, especially if you live in another state, is absolutely a situation where enlisting the services of a seasoned designer saves time, reduces stress and makes the whole construction journey more enjoyable. 

If you’d like to learn more about how I can help you navigate through the new construction process, you can schedule a no charge Discovery Call here. Prefer to start with a plan review? Click here to start the process. We make it super easy!

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[when building]

 

The best and least expensive time to 

make changes 

 

is on paper.

-Jessica Faircloth, Lemongrass Interiors

Know when to say when

Building a house is a big deal and you want to get it right. Trust me, I've been in your shoes. Other than client projects, I've been an owner-builder on five personal homes. There's so much to think about and so many details to consider. Will the home be your full-time residence or a rental? Will you keep it for many years or is it ultimately for resale? Those are the some of the "big-picture" considerations. Then there are the questions of style, function and overall use.

Starting out right

It's important to think of how you really live in a space and what makes that use comfortable & practical. Do you have a large family or like to entertain often? In that case, you'll want to concentrate on a larger kitchen and bathrooms. If you're a person who likes to stock up on groceries, then you'll want to consider a well-sized pantry. However, if you prefer to shop as you go, then you can use that square footage in a different way. How will the bedrooms be used? Do you need to integrate built-in bunk beds?

Then there are the detail & design elements. Shower design, lighting preferences, audio/visual requirements, etc. While I realize this can all seem overwhelming, it's also important to learn the art of making the best decision for a given item and move on. I've seen it happen many times that a homeowner will decide on a very functional plan and then, through a sequence of changes, tweaks and re-tweaks, end up with a plan that is much less so.

Lean on the pros

Architects and designers aren't infallible in their process, but they generally do arrive at a particular design through a series of logical steps. There is usually an intrinsic talent for space and scale, as well as years of training and experience. These are valuable commodities which you as a homeowner are exchanging your hard-earned money for. Just in the way you wouldn't ignore advice from a tax attorney, it's prudent to listen to your team of home design professionals.

Very often, when walls are moved or roof pitches altered, these changes set off a chain of events that must be thoughtfully considered. Home design is definitely a discipline where one thing leads to another. This is when it becomes very important, therefore, to have a second or third set of eyes review the plan. Architects, interior designers and contractors all look at a set of blueprints from a different perspective - and each can help ensure that the home not only meets certain architectural guidelines, but is also structurally sound and beautifully livable at the same time.

The value of a plan review

So far, I've discussed changes during the design phase. These are the easiest and least expensive to implement. Where homeowners really get into hot water are when changes are made once construction has begun. Earlier this year, I was brought into a project after the home was framed and siding was on. During my first site visit with them, they had just given the contractor a list of window changes they wanted, which cost them several thousand dollars. And honestly, had I had any input at that point, I would have suggested a few other window changes as well.

On another project that I was brought into several months after construction began, the owners had moved a wall to make additional space in an ensuite bathroom. Admittedly, this did create a lovely nook for a soaking tub, however once sheetrock was installed and we began discussing furnishings, we discovered that while they were concentrating on the bathroom, they didn't realize they had eliminated crucial square footage in the adjacent bathroom rendering it nearly useless for even a queen size bed. Regret is heavy...especially when it's also expensive.

Know the plan, stick to the plan

Then, there's also the very real phenomena of "paralysis by analysis". It's distressing. It keeps owners up at night. It can cause a construction project to come to a grinding halt. But the good news is...it's also totally avoidable! We all know there are a million choices out there and they're flooding our inboxes, web searches & cable channels. It seems that each month, there is a new "trend" that is the "must-have" look. These are all nice to consider, but the most important thing to get to the core of is - Is this you? Dorothy Draper once famously said, "I believe in doing the thing you feel is right. If it looks right, it is right."

As a designer, I always try to identify my client's personality in combination with the design and overall use of the home. Part of my job is to keep the train on the tracks and keep my clients focused on the goals we identified at the beginning of the project. The constant distraction of shiny objects or the next cool thing is hard to resist. It's also sometimes hard to resist the peril of getting hung up on the smallest of elements. Yes, details matter. My career is largely based on focusing on the details. However, it is very possible to spend three weeks considering a door knob simply because you're afraid of making the wrong choice.

Relax & enjoy!

Draper gave us another nugget of wisdom which she said, "I always think out a problem as clearly as possible, and then act on it. My theory has always been to get started." I can't tell you how many times a client has compared two light fixtures to death only to finally decide on one and later barely remember the second. In reality, both were very good choices - the difficulty was in the anxiety of making the decision.

As an ending note, I'd encourage homeowners to rely on their trusted professionals, make the most informed & logical choice at the time and relax & enjoy the process. I truly love home design & construction and want each of my clients to love it as well. Lastly, I'll leave you with a final word from the legendary Draper, "Good liquor is not cheap. Cheap liquor is not good." Not sure that it has anything to do with design, but it's true & made me laugh so...

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At Lemongrass, I offer a flat-fee plan review service that can help eliminate potential headaches, missteps and potentially thousands of dollars in change-orders and delays. Contact me today to schedule your review.