interior design

Westport Homes & RDS - A Perfect Partnership

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We would not be successful without the expertise of the builders and contractors that we work with on a daily basis. They build the vision that we help create. Our relationship with our builders and contractors is important to us. Westport Homes is one of the builders that we work with and here are a few of their thoughts about working with us at RDS. 

Name: Susan Hall, Director of Architecture, Westport Homes

How was your experience with RDS – Residential Designed Solutions?
Our Westport Homes Columbus Division’s experience has been a positive one with RDS for the last 5 years. They are conscious of our schedules and help with many aspects of our architectural needs in the partnership we have established. 

What did you have designed or redesigned by RDS?
We have had numerous master architectural construction document sets developed, options to master plans added and individual specific contracts created.

What services do you like best that RDS provides?
They have assigned one lead designer to our account that takes personal ownership. They oversee our account by knowing all of our specifications, subdivision requirements, and develop out lot specific homeowner standard options and custom options selections with great care to the details. They have even visited our model homes and like to keep up with new model openings so they can stay “on top” of our products offered to home buyers.

Who else did you use or speak with in planning the design of the home before choosing RDS?
Westport Homes Columbus Division has not used any other company for our architectural needs.

What have your needs been and what are your future needs of an architect/designer?
Our needs have been to have help in developing out our preliminary designs into architectural construction document sets, adding numerous options to our existing master home plans, and developing individual lot specific plans. Our future needs are to continue to use RDS in the same manner but at a higher volume of lot specific plan development. I also foresee using their design services for future development of plan offerings to our clients.

How were challenges /issues/decisions/questions handled and communicated?
We handle most of our communications via email. We also communicate by phone as well as meetings in person. RDS has always met our needs and been available to us during our partnership with them. In fact, with our growing volume this past year, they have added additional staff to work on our account during peak times to meet deadlines.

What was your overall experience like?
Our overall experience with RDS has been a positive partnership in meeting the architectural needs for the development of master homes plans, adding standard options to the master plans, and creating individual lot specific plans with standard options, custom options, and local municipalities’ requirements.

What advice would you offer to a builder who is having someone design a home or redesign a space in the home?
We have and will continue to advise anyone needing architectural services to reach out to RDS. RDS has been in Columbus for almost thirty years and they know the building codes and local municipality requirements. RDS is actively involved in the building industry and have the personnel and expertise to help in any aspect of providing design services.

Would you use RDS again?
Westport Homes will most certainly continue to use RDS for our architectural needs.

We take pride in the services we provide our builders, contractors, and clients. Our designers will work with you to help your visions become reality. We’d be happy to talk with you and see what services we can offer. We thank Westport Homes for their continued support and confidence in us. The feeling is mutual; they are a fantastic group to work with.

Jim's Tip: Marble Floors - What We Need to Know

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Based on pictures shared with us from HOUZZ and PINTEREST by our clients, we are seeing more and more marble in upscale baths. The walls and countertops are not an issue, but the floors provide some challenges for both designer and builder.

The Tile Council of North America, TCNA, requires that any floors with natural stone applied must be designed with a deflection of L/720, twice as stiff as code requires L/360 (“L” is the length of the clear span of the floor joist in inches). The challenge is that we have no idea what your client is going to select when we lay out the structure for the house. If we know ahead of time, stiffening that floor area is simple. After the fact it may become very expensive.

Changing the subfloor or the backer board isn’t going to provide the required rigidity, you’ll have to add additional joists. This may mean removing and replacing HVAC, plumbing and electric to get these joists into place.

The simple solution for designers and engineers is to add a disclaimer to the plans, but that doesn’t help you one little bit. The best choice is for all of us to be aware of the potential problem and attempt to get a determination or at least a direction on floor surface selections from the homeowner before we complete the plans. If homeowners know there will be a lot of extra cost to change the floor later, that may help them make some decisions earlier. 

Let’s work together on solving this one!

I never recommend social media links to anyone but recently I came across Build w/Matt Risinger, a channel on YouTube with a lot of detailed construction information. He’s a custom builder in the Austin, Texas area and he is talking about performance vs. prescriptive codes; contemporary interior trim details, soundproofing tricks, hidden door ideas, etc. All in all, this is a very informative group of videos. His channel publishes new content twice a week so you can watch what interests you.

Below is a link to a short video from Matt on traditional framing vs. high-performance framing techniques. He walks you through two houses while talking about and pointing out the differences.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDsaMFY3OcE   I hope you find it as interesting as I have.

Jim's Tip - Who Comes First, Builder or Designer?

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I recently read an article in one of our trade publications written by a builder explaining in great detail why he insisted on being the initial contact with potential clients. He spent a good amount of column space demonstrating that his clients were best represented by working through his process to develop designs for their project. His belief was that only through a process such as his, would clients be able to have plans developed that would be able to be built with-in their budget.

Having worked as a residential designer both independently and in the employ of several builders, I certainly understand his perspective. It is very common for clients to come into our office with grand dreams, essentially with “champagne taste and a beer budget” as the saying goes. Someone must introduce some hard cold facts into the conversation very early so that realistic expectations are set before pen or mouse are in motion.

There is nothing worse than having a set of construction documents fully developed only to find out that the house is way over the client’s budget. A lot of money has been wasted including the builders’ time along with all his trade partners, bidding a useless set of plans. The point that the builder was emphasizing was that costs must be part of the discussion and controlled all the way through the design and construction process. I couldn’t agree more.

All our designers have construction management and hands on building experience which allows us to have a realistic cost perspective when initially meeting with clients. We always have a cost discussion before we get started so it really doesn’t matter who qualifies the client. The key is tracking costs at every step of the design process, from initial sketch “ballpark” pricing to final construction/contract documents.

The point that I want to convey is that it really doesn’t matter who comes first if both the builder and their designer are working closely together. The resulting home will be one that the clients are thrilled to own at a cost they are comfortable with. Contact RDS to see how seamlessly we can become part of your team.