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The value of design

Posted on Dec 12, 2012

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By Cymon Allfrey

Quality design is so much more than the standard of materials selected in the construction of your home. It is about how the design of the home sits within its community, how it functions for you and your family and how, most importantly, it interacts with its site.

Making the decision to undertake, for the want of a better word, a bespoke design for you to live in, is about looking at how an architect or designer can add value to how you live, rather than viewing them as someone who is simply there to draft up a set of plans.

While the design process can be broken into many parts, one of the most important steps is planning. My goal in any design project is to ensure time and energy is put into the ‘right’ part of the process, so that in 18 months’ time, when you are moving in to your new home, your design is perfect and in 50 years it’s still functional. That first two-hour consultation in which you work through your wants and needs, will impact the next 50 to 100 years of your site.

An architect’s job isn’t about selling a product; it is about applying our skills to your unique site and wants, to create a positive environment in which to live. Personally, my focus has never been on a client’s budgeted price per square meter, it is about creating a home which has parity with the brief and works in the best way possible for those who live there.

While all clients have an idea of what they want and have the option to simply select a plan from a book, by working with an architect or designer you are engaging someone who is able to advise on the various elements of the home – ensuring for example, that your kitchen and living spaces are functional rooms which transition effectively – a notion which brings with it the flexibility to resolve a design to be smaller and more functional.

Whether restrained by site or budget, in design size really doesn’t matter and with custom design comes the ability to design a home in a better way, but on a smaller scale.

However, whether your site or budget is small or large, it is important to prioritise the space around your home as well. Not only will this add more value to your home, it will introduce another level of interaction. In many instances, your designer will be able to work with you on the design and planning of this.

By thinking about, and planning this space when you are working out your budget per square meter, you have the option to utilise your landscaping to create additional living spaces and outdoor entertaining areas. With the quintessential Kiwi way of living long, favouring indoor-outdoor flow, do you really want to end up moving into your new home and not being able to throw open the doors to a lush paved courtyard because your budget was blown simply on the design and build of your house? Every square foot needs to be considered – every time.

While it might seem an obvious concept, it is certainly not a simple one and it is imperative that your final design works for your site – and every site is different. While your neighbouring sites may possess similarities the treatment and response to a site will always be unique.

In Christchurch we often find ourselves designing homes and buildings which balance views with the north-easterly winds. While the view might be best to the south – we can’t simply orientate a house south and make it work. It is about thinking how the home will be used and prioritising quality and functionality while balancing the external factors.

Designing a home is about building for life; your home should grow with you, so it is imperative you are working with someone who is able to assist you in creating a space which will deliver your needs for how you live today, and tomorrow.

By placing an emphasis on the value of design, you can be assured that you will not only be saving yourself money in the long run, but creating a design which encompasses quality and size to create a perfectly balanced result, tailored for you.

With over 20 years industry experience, Cymon Allfrey holds the Chair of the ADNZ National Board and has won the ADNZ National Supreme Award three times in the past five years.

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