Work the plan


Vince Lom­bardi said, “Plan your work and work your plan.” The quote speaks to prepa­ra­tion and fol­low-through, and is rel­e­vant in the home­build­ing or re­mod­el­ing process. The set of build­ing plans is the map for the course of ac­tion. It should con­tain all in­for­ma­tion that the builder, sub-con­trac­tors, designer(s) and own­ers need to bring the project to life in a way that meets ex­pec­ta­tions.

Plans, how­ever, are only as good as their level of de­tail, in­ter­pre­ta­tion and ex­e­cu­tion. It is when there are gray ar­eas — those that are left un­de­fined or are not spelled out ac­cu­rately— that prob­lems can arise.

The more de­ci­sions that are made prior to con­struc­tion, the more smoothly the project will pro­ceed. On the in­te­ri­ors side, floor­ing choices must be ac­com­mo­dated in the con­crete foun­da­tion pour to seam­lessly tran­si­tion one to an­other. Early se­lec­tions of ap­pli­ances, fix­tures (plumb­ing and light­ing) and hard­ware en­ables fin­ishes to cor­re­spond flu­idly and ap­pro­pri­ate spacing, clear­ances, power and plumb­ing lo­ca­tions to be pro­vided.

There are many in­stances where de­ci­sions made and put into the plans get changed on­site. Rea­sons may in­clude unan­tic­i­pated site con­di­tions, the de­sire to max­i­mize views (via win­dow and door set­tings) af­ter fram­ing ver­sus see­ing the plans on pa­per, the vol­ume of the phys­i­cal space, and the scale or pro­por­tion of el­e­ments such as fire­places and par­ti­tion walls. In th­ese cases, it is op­ti­mal to have the ar­chi­tect or gen­eral con­trac­tor “red-line” the plans, ini­tial them, and date them as an of­fi­cial copy, since mem­o­ries can get fuzzy as to what de­ci­sion was made or why.

It is im­por­tant for you, the owner, to un­der­stand fully how to read the plans: the site plan, floor plan, roof, re­flected ceil­ing (RCP), elec­tri­cal and light­ing plans, and, if the project is a remodel, the demo plan. Don’t feel in­tim­i­dated, and ask as many ques­tions as nec­es­sary. You should un­der­stand such things as the door, win­dow, and elec­tri­cal sched­ules, what dot­ted ver­sus solid lines mean, and how to read the switch­ing plan. It is also crit­i­cal to have a fur­ni­ture and fur­nish­ings plan that in­cludes place­ment and size of rugs, win­dow treat­ments (al­low­ing am­ple space for stack­ing whether on the sides or on top of the win­dows, and for elec­tri­cal feed for pos­si­ble mo­tor­iza­tion). The fur­ni­ture plan will show if the spa­ces are large enough or larger than they need to be, where floor out­lets are de­sired, and where win­dow and door place­ment may need to be amended to pro­vide more space for art and fur­ni­ture or al­low for proper cir­cu­la­tion.

The more de­tails ex­plored prior to the foun­da­tion be­ing poured, the fewer sur­prises oc­cur or last-minute de­ci­sions are nec­es­sary. It is worth the ex­tra in­vest­ment in ob­tain­ing in­te­rior el­e­va­tions and even 3-D mod­el­ing to bet­ter view ev­ery nook and cranny of the build­ing. It is also worth the in­vest­ment to have the plans re­vised to an as-built plan set by the ar­chi­tect or gen­eral con­trac­tor if changed have been made. This set is valu­able down the line when you or the next home­owner will in­evitably want to re­fer to them for fur­nish­ings or re­mod­el­ing, main­te­nance, or legal mat­ters, and can save time, money and faulty as­sump­tions later.

A com­pre­hen­sive plan­ning process that al­lows enough time and in­volves a col­lab­o­ra­tive team— ar­chi­tect, en­gi­neers, builder, sub­con­trac­tors, in­te­rior designer, land­scape ar­chi­tect or designer, kitchen designer— pro­vides dif­fer­ent lenses through which all as­pects of the project are con­sid­ered. Then, to the ex­tent all de­ci­sions are doc­u­mented, com­mu­ni­cated and un­der­stood by all team mem­bers and other trades­peo­ple, the more eas­ily the project will progress and more sat­is­fac­tory out­come you will achieve.

Heather Van Luchene, ASID and St­ef­fany Hollingsworth, ASID are part­ners in HVL In­te­ri­ors, LLC, an in­te­rior de­sign firm of­fer­ing pro­fes­sional res­i­den­tial and hos­pi­tal­ity de­sign ser­vices. Both areNew Mex­ico li­censed in­te­rior de­sign­ers. They can be reached at (505) 983-3601 or info@ hvlin­te­ri­


Plans hav­ing been, or to be, ex­e­cuted by the HVL de­sign team

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