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Getting Started

A great home starts with a beautiful building site.  We are fortunate to design homes in many spectacular settings:  sites with panoramic views, beautiful lake or ocean frontage, raging rivers.  You may have already selected your building site when you contact us to design your home.  If not, we can offer invaluable advice on your selection process.  Our experience will help you choose a site that covers all the important decisions: views, topography, solar and wind exposure, privacy, natural features, access, building placement and more.  The article, Choosing Your Building Site, may also be of assistance as you start the process.

When you start the design process it is important to clarify the role you want us to take in the design of your home, whether it is a log home, a timber frame home, a post and beam home, or a conventional home.

We try to help you answer some basic questions:

  • How active a role do you wish to play in the design process?
  • What level of creative input or freedom do you wish us to have? 
  • What role will we play in estimating construction costs, selecting mechanical systems and materials, selecting your builders, the details of kitchen and bathroom design, supervising or administering the construction contract?
  • What are your expectations of us, both in terms of scope of work and working relationship?

A good fit is important in the relationship between designer and client.  Our respect for your vision is key to the entire process. We will not push our agendas or ideas on you; nor conversely, try to appease yours if they do not support your greater vision. We listen carefully to your needs, yet question you enough to fully expand your vision.  We strive to be open-minded and flexible, trustworthy and patient.

You may be wondering how you work with a Designer whose office may be thousands of miles away.  Our experience has shown it is more important to have knowledge and experience than close proximity. 

Our projects normally start with a site visit with three primary objectives:

  • Whether you are designing a log home, a timber frame home, a post and beam home, or even a straw bale home, we endeavor to fully appreciate the opportunities and constraints of your building site.  What led you to this beautiful piece of Mother Earth?
  • We take the time to fully understand your goals and your vision.  How will your home reflect your values, lifestyle, personality and needs?
  • We seek to establish a cooperative and synergistic relationship.  Do we have the foundation, trust, and inspiration to work together to create a truly wonderful home?

Once we have accomplished this, the design process can unfold easily over any distance.  We can use multiple methods of transmitting or reviewing concepts or drawings in progress.  We work to tailor the communication process to reflect your specific needs.  Our success at designing homes throughout North America and beyond has given us the tools to work with just about any situation.  Whether we are designing a custom home or working from our plan book of sample plans, or simple doing a kitchen renovation, we use an approach of creating maximum value for our clients. The articles, Selection Process: the Hows and Whys of Choosing an Architect, Steps to a Successful Design and Working With A Designer, may be helpful as you approach the design of your home.  We believe the experience of working with Heartwood should clarify, reflect and enhance how you live!

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