Ask the Architect: Four Must-Ask Questions before you Break Ground

Envision, design, build, repeat. To sum it up simply – and I mean very simply, my daily routine is working with clients to follow these steps. We collaborate to design their dream home and I serve as a guide of sorts throughout the journey. To me, this process feels natural, but I know that many of my clients feel overtaken by anxiety and emotion when embarking on a building or renovation project. To help calm this stress, I think there are a few questions that every homeowner should ask himself or herself as well as the architect before breaking ground, and I’m excited to share them with you all today! Read on for what I hope serves as a getting-started guide.

Question #1: Who is working on my project?

Whenever I talk to friends or potential clients about kicking off a remodel or homebuilding project, I remind them to be discerning when it comes to picking their architect and team. The building process is incredibly collaborative so you want to make sure you partner with someone who understands your vision and goals, and someone that you can have a bit of fun along the way.

This desire for the perfect partnership holds true for the architect as well. For example, I’m proud to be a Bosch Brand Partner, as we share a common passion for modern simplicity, stunning design, and creative collaboration. These core principles prompted us to explore a partnership and I’ve loved coming together on a variety of projects, including the Nichols Canyon home. Forging these types of partnerships based on trust and passion is the ideal way to set yourself up for success with any groundbreaking endeavor.

Construction team working on the base of a new house

Question #2: What is the timeline?

You’ve heard this before. Just add six months to the estimated completion date your architect or contractor shares with you. And while it’s true that unexpected delays can happen on any building project, I think starting out with a strong, realistic timeline is the best way to plan ahead before breaking ground.

In my experience, I’ve noticed that some homeowners underestimate timing and then feel frustrated when their dream home isn’t move-in ready fast enough. Consult with the experts and get an extremely clear understanding of how long each stage of the build is expected to take. This is again, why open communication with your architect and building team is so important. Seemingly small tasks, like getting building permits in Los Angeles, in reality can take much longer than expected. Work with your architect to set a timeline that takes all of the key factors into consideration and you will be off to a strong start before you even set foot on the construction site.

Question #3: What is the budget?

The budget….I can just hear the 80s-horror music in the background! Budget tends to produce the most anxiety for homeowners and remodelers, and for good reason. When you put up a sizable amount of your savings to design your dream home, there will certainly be stress involved.

That said, I think being extremely candid about your budget with yourself and your architecture and design team can help minimize feelings of worry. One really important tip is to allocate a 5-10% contingency for the construction budget. Although each homeowner is different and each project unique, this tends to be a good safeguard for the unexpected.

I also think budget and communication go hand in hand. Sometimes couples come to me without clear alignment on their budget, which is recipe for disaster. I recommend getting on the same page budget-wise with your partner before visiting an architect or even thinking about breaking ground.

Modern kitchen design by Dan Brunn with Bosch appliances

Question #4: What are my priorities?

This process is all about decisions. More often than not, I am working with homeowners to prioritize what aspects of their home are most important, and then making sure the design of the structure and the budget reflect these priorities.

Since purposeful design is so important to both Bosch and myself, we immediately decided that the kitchen would be the center of the Nichols Canyon home. By creating this focal point within the structure, we were then able to map out all the details seamlessly, together. Every choice from the shape of the kitchen layout to the degree of natural lighting laddered up to the priorities we laid out during the envisioning stage.

Once you ask yourself these “tough questions,” all of a sudden the hard decisions, sketches, and dollar signs, turn into reality. It is an incredibly powerful and rewarding feeling to go from an abstract vision to your dream home. By doing your homework before breaking ground, you’ll be well on your way to settling into your perfectly-designed, modern haven.

Dan Brunn is a brand partner for Bosch home appliances. For more information on the award-winning architect, visit .

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