• Elise Wolf

Which Comes First, The Designer or the Lot?

Updated: May 21, 2018

You want a home of your own. Not just a home you bought, but a home you constructed from the ground up to meet your exact specifications. Sure, existing homes can be remodeled, but that adds cost on top of the cost of purchasing a home, and you're still limited by the original home's structure. To truly have a home that's all yours, you need to build from scratch.

The Basics

When considering luxury real estate, the options can be overwhelming. One of the best ways to mitigate this stress is to simply start from scratch and create something new. There are two basic elements you'll need to consider before you can begin building your home: the lot it sits on, and the designer or architect who will design it.

The Lot

The lot is one of the most important factors to consider in building a custom home. Its location is vital. Not only does the general location matter - in terms of neighborhood and such - it also has a significant impact on the house your designer is able to create to take advantage of sunlight, views and space. Your residential designer can read the land with an expert eye and determine how best to maximize it to achieve your desired results. If you have an oceanfront lot, for example, the designer can be sure to situate your home so that a majority of it has windows facing the water. Or if the lot you've chosen has rolling hills, your designer can create a house that compliments the landscape rather than fighting it.

Soil Conditions

Here is where an architect or residential designer really comes into play. The topography and soil conditions of your lot are extremely important to investigate and may mean the difference between a buildable lot and an unbuildable lot. Sometimes a lot can be purchased at a good price, but due to the soil conditions, so much money needs to be put into the foundation that building becomes cost prohibitive.

The Residential Designer

The residential designer or architect may be the single most important factor in determining how much you will like your custom home. A good designer can create a home that works with the land as well as your vision. Your designer is not only in charge of ensuring that the house is aesthetically and functionally up to your standards, they also ensure that your home is constructed according to building codes; follows your HOA's regulations, if applicable; and problem-solve when unexpected setbacks show up.

Knowledge and Experience

Many regulations and restrictions can be placed on lots. Each city and HOA has its own distinct regulations. Some cities also have Design Review Boards, for example the Laguna Beach Design Review Board and the Mulholland Corridor Design Review, that can be challenging to navigate without previous experience. Even the flora on your lot may make a difference. For example, if you have oak trees on your lot in California, there are regulations regarding what you can cut down, how many you can cut down and how many you have to replace. The bottom line is that an experienced residential designer or architect can help you determine if the site is 1) buildable and 2) worth building on.

What Comes First: The Architect or the Lot?

If you're at the very beginning of designing your custom home, you may be wondering what order to start work in. Or perhaps you've already purchased a lot or contracted an architect/designer and are wondering if you made the right choice.

If You Already Have a Home Designer

Hiring an architect or designer prior to acquiring a lot means that they will be involved in every step of the process. Discussing the design you're looking for at the start will mean that your architect or designer can aid you in choosing the correct lot. By doing this, you'll be able to minimize any setbacks or unexpected problems with the land.

If You Already Have a Lot If you're coming into the project already having purchased a lot, that is also doable! Your residential designer will evaluate the lot for its strengths and weaknesses and design a home that maximizes its benefits and indoor/outdoor space. Whether you start with a lot or start with an architect or designer, choosing the right person or firm can make all the difference. A great residential designer can make the most of a less-than-perfect lot, but given a great lot, an unskilled architect will only design a mediocre home.

This is why choosing the right designer for high-end real estate is vital for the success of your project. To learn more about how Wolf Design Studio can design your luxury custom home, contact us today.

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