To Have and To Home

There’s more to a floor plan than you think.

Sometimes it takes a team of assorted doctors to make a diagnosis. Using several branches of a legal team may increase the chances of a client winning a case. And the forces that join to hatch a plan for a new build is equally instrumental, but not always acknowledged.

With today’s endless possibilities in new home construction, it’s beneficial to have a team of advisors to narrow down the choices and make recommendations based on the owner’s wish list. Experts in northeast Wisconsin shed more light on this home industry alliance.

“If I Had Only Known”

Building a new house can be one of the costliest things you’ll do in a lifetime.

As Tom Friese and Robb Mier, of Friese-Mier Co., in Green Bay, explain the last realization a homeowner wants to make in the final stages of the build (or even worse, after moving in) is that they cut a corner too short, need more kitchen space or didn’t properly plot the master bathroom.

“Some people end up spending money in making bad decisions and it will long haunt a homeowner,” says Mier. “The last thing you want to think after the fact is, ‘If I had only known.’”

Involving a collaborative team of architects, contractors, systems installers and interior designers during the drafting process is what Mier is implying.

As John DeLeers, of DeLeers Construction Inc., explains, the more detail worked out before the team “gets out in the field,” the better.

The Green Bay design-build firm specializes in customized homes and attests to the involvement of architects and interior designers in the build process. “It boils down to upfront planning,” adds DeLeers. “Once the foundation is in the ground, there isn’t much room for change. The little details become a large picture in a quick hurry.”

For Brian and Mary Liddy, the construction of their Bay area home involved multiple disciplines.

DeLeers took the drawings of Chris Reiner, of C. Renier Architects, Inc., in De Pere and put them into a draft.

“I met with the Liddys about the concept,” Renier explains. “They had a photograph from a magazine, which can be misleading in terms of scale and orientation.”

While an architect thinks in volumes and 3D spaces, an interior designer handles both 2D and 3D and refines and details the volumes. Both parties take scale into consideration to determine the proper arrangement.

“We listen to their needs and wants and try to synthesize it into a sketch first,” he adds. “Then everyone––the owner, the designer, the builder, the landscape architect––has something to react to. We all bring the discipline into it to determine what it is 
going to cost.”

The Dollar Sign of Design

Friese-Miers’ top priority is to keep their clients on a realistic track to achieve a desired dream home. Learning about the lifestyles, entertaining habits and which rooms are in more demand determine the money an individual will need to spend.

That being said, having an interior designer on board before the building process starts is crucial. The responsibility of this person on the team includes learning what and how each client lives in that house. A home should be as functional as it is wonderful and tastefully laid out.

Many rooms in the Liddy house were planned according to furniture items. “We have a baby grand piano, and [Friese-Mier] designed the great room with that in mind,” Mary says. “There was a great deal of focus on placement.”

Interior designers help homeowners improve the function, safety and livability of spaces and are often involved in selecting architectural elements, such as crown moldings and outlet plate covers. In a big way, the interior designer becomes the client advocate to help with design choices and act as the middle man between the build team and systems installers.

“We plan it so the floor vents don’t blow up the draperies,” says Rob Mier, partner in Friese-Mier Co. “We don’t leave anything to chance.”

According to DeLeers, it’s nothing to spend a year in the design process, and what most homeowners don’t realize is that having an interior designer on your side at the beginning of a new build will save you time and money in the end.

“Some homeowners are color savvy and have time to pick out design,” DeLeers says. “But having a designer there helps the client to know what products persuade how the home is structurally laid out.”

Time on Your Side

It took the team about a year and two months to finish the Liddy’s 4,000-square-foot home.

“The theory was that [Friese-Mier] would narrow down the selections to three–one higher end, one middle and one lower end choice,” explains Mary. “Time was really a key factor in adding all those people together to make it done right and to eliminate major research on our end.”

DeLeers recounts the ideal timeline. First, design the floor plan and get the interior designer on board. Next, determine the furniture and types of interior materials and product selection. After that, the builders should receive the finished drawings from an architect, which helps to estimate cost. Finally, it’s time to break ground.

“Once [Friese] figured out what we liked we needed very little consultations. He knew we’d like it,” Brian adds.

Leaving something to chance is a gamble most homeowners aren’t willing to take. To fully grasp the function of a new space, a team of qualified professionals should be assembled to work on achieving the homeowner’s vision on time and at a price that won’t break the bank.

—By Alison Fiebig

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