How do you deal with choices during the design process? – Sketched design options on trace paper. – Board & Vellum

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How Do You Deal with Choices During the Design Process?

By Jeff Pelletier
December 11, 2017

How the heck do you know how to decide between all the choices presented to you during the design process?

Design is so much fun, and often times, we’ll have several schemes or options that we love for different reasons. When we go through the design process we chug through countless options and scenarios and then present to you what we think are the best ones. At the initial meeting, we aim to stick to three, and no more than four options, as any more than that becomes overwhelming. So, how do you decide?

  • Weigh the costs and benefits of each one. While one scheme may cost a lot more, it may get you a lot more. Other schemes may cost a lot more but not have a great return on your investment.
  • Understand the emotional attachment to some ideas. In many cases, tearing an older house down and building new actually makes financial sense, but the emotional reality is a different situation. Know your limits and what that is worth to you.
  • Ask for advice! While we want to present you with numerous options to help understand what is important to you and what you respond to aesthetically, we also want to be a resource you and that includes our preferences. You can choose to ignore it (it is your project after all), but we definitely have biases and professional, informed opinions. Listening to your design professional ensures you are getting your money’s worth.
  • Ask for clarification on the options to the options. Each choice presented to you is going to have numerous sub-options which can impact how that choice looks to you. Understand those and factor it into your decision. We find that a good sketching session right in front of the client helps shake out those issues.
  • Use a “decision tree” to help make the big decisions first and then filter down to the small ones. There will be hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions to make and this will help make the process digestible.

In general, remember to carefully weigh the decisions and not to over-think things or dive into the weeds too early. Rely upon the design professional you have hired and trust their guidance, but also trust your instincts. We’re a team, and your opinion is just as valued as our professional opinion in the seemingly never-ending menu of choices you’ll have to make in the design process.

This post is part of the ArchiTalk series originally spearheaded by Bob Borson of Life of an Architect. Historically, he has selected a theme and a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s posts. This year, the themes have been selected by a variety of contributors. This month’s theme was selected by Nisha Kandiah of The Contemporary Dragon Slayer and is: "Choices." To read how others interpreted the theme, please explore the links below.

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
choices

Mark R. LePage - EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)
Limit Their Stress By Limiting Their Choices

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Choices

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Choices -- Your turn

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
"Choices..."

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A million choices

Nisha Kandiah - ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Life is a Gamble that depends upon your choices

Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Slow… merge… stop

Jim Mehaffey - Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Choose Your Battles

Mark Stephens - Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
ArchiTalks Choices

Would you like to read more from the team?

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