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@ hvlinteriors.com.
Plans having been, or to be, executed by the HVL design team