Building your own home is a vast undertaking, but there are a range of professionals out there whose jobs are to help you create the new custom home you are dreaming about. Choosing which kind of and how many professionals you work with--an architect, a builder, an interior designer, a kitchen or bath specialist, a lighting consultant--depends on your budget and what you wish to accomplish. Architects are trained to deal with spatial and structural questions. Designers vary in expertise--some are best at decorating; others, at space planning. A custom builder, in addition to dealing with construction issues, may offer design services or recommend local architects and designers with whom they've worked. A builder may also help with the material and product specifications for your home.

WHY WORK WITH A PRO?

Why should you hire a design professional at all? Design and building professionals have learned from their experiences what works and what does not work functionally, aesthetically and financially. Their expertise can keep you from making costly mistakes because they have been through hundreds of times the process you may be going through only for the first or second time.

A professional will also have more access to and knowledge of state-of-the-art products available in the marketplace than you would. Whether it's outfitting your closet with the storage system that suits your lifestyle best, or investing in the best quality flooring for your money, a professional can help you make wise product choices that suit your needs.

If you have a vague idea of what you want your new home to look like, but aren't sure of all the details, a professional can help you to clarify the vision you want and fit the budget you have available.

HOW DO I FIND A PRO?

Ask neighbors, friends, co-workers, and architects and builders you trust who they would recommend. Ask for and review the professional's entire portfolio--not just one project. Ask for and check out references and professional affiliations. Call the Better Business Bureau to check for any complaints.

It is important that you choose someone you can talk to and not feel intimidated by, and someone whose opinion you will respect. He or she is there to make your vision a reality, not to create a vision of their own. Clear communication between you and the consultant is key.

Ask questions about the fee structure. Is there an hourly rate or an overall design fee that covers the entire project? Is a retainer required upon signing the contract? Negotiate a payment schedule that serves you both. Some professionals, like an interior designer or a kitchen and bath specialist, may be hired on an hourly basis, or to design one or two rooms rather than the entire home.

HOW DO I PREPARE?

Ask plenty of questions along the way--it's up to you to know what's going on every step of the way. Design and building professionals are not in business to build and design what they want, but are hired by you to realize your vision. To make the most of this opportunity, you need to prepare as best as you can for your collaboration with them. Here are some ways to prepare:

  • Collect examples of what you do and don't like from home design magazines, newspapers and other photo sources. Tour showhouses and model homes. Draw on your preferences in colors and style of artwork to establish your home's style.
  • Think about how you currently use your rooms and write down what you would like to see changed Note any problems. Is there too little storage? Not enough ventilation?
  • List what features you'd like to have and don't have now, and then prioritize so the professionals know what you'd like most if it all isn't possible or affordable.
  • Put function first. No matter how wonderful a fixture or feature looks, it if isn't useful, you'll eventually be unhappy with it. Think about traffic patterns, storage and ample lighting. Will you really use a whirlpool? Do you need a snack bar and a breakfast eating area?
  • Establish a budget and stick to it.
  • Be flexible. Be open to substitutions and ideas offered by the pros that might achieve your goal in a better way than you had originally imagined.
Author's Bio: 

The building company London Elite Trades assist and guide customers through all aspects of the building process.

Assisting customers with all aspects of their 'build' or renovation, London Elite Trades have a proven track recored for delivering work on time and on budget.