How to prepare for your first design consultation

When working with a design-build firm like Lamont Bros., a team of design and construction professionals serves as your guide through the remodeling process. As we begin our remodeling journey together, you’ll want to prepare for your first design consultation with our team.

At Lamont Bros., we’ve worked with hundreds of homeowners across the Portland Metro Area to remodel their homes into a place where they can thrive. Our process is meant to keep you, the homeowner, in control of the design and budget of your remodel from start to finish. In order to accomplish this, you’ll want to know what you can do in order to make your remodel a success.

To help you prepare for your first design consultation meeting, this article will explain how this initial session will help establish the trajectory of your remodel. You can expect to learn about:

What to expect from your first design consultation?

Your initial meeting shouldn’t be the first time you’ve spoken with your design-build team. Rather, it’s the first official step in your remodel journey. At your consultation, you’ll begin establishing a personal relationship with your team, as well as start to plan out how to achieve your remodeling goals.

The purpose of this meeting is to make an introduction, not just between you and your design team, but also between your design team and your home. Remodeling isn’t an easy decision, and we want you to feel confident in whichever direction you choose to go. Our design-build process works for a lot of homeowners, but we want to make sure it’s the right fit for you. 

Meet your design consultant

Your design consultant acts as your guide through the remodel process.

By the time you meet for your design consultation, you should have already had a few phone or video conference calls with a design consultant. Your design consultant is a professional design curator who will act as your guide throughout the process of designing a remodel. 

Together with our in-house design team, they will help you develop a complete and comprehensive set of plans for the build team to use. 

Give us a tour of your home

We hold the first design consultation in the client’s home so that the design consultant can get an understanding of what the remodel project may look like. While discussing what you hope to accomplish with a remodel, it is helpful for your design team to view the space. Not only does it give them a better understanding of what you want to change, but they can also more accurately estimate the budget.

The Design Consultant may take some measurements of your home to use in developing your design plans. Depending on the size of your home and the scope of the remodel, the entire meeting normally takes between one and two hours. 

Communicate your expectations

At your design consultation, one of our goals is to establish what a successful remodel will look like for you. Success looks different for every homeowner; it depends on several factors, each of which your design consultant will discuss with you. 

Oftentimes, a good remodel begins with a very simple question: “How can your home better serve your lifestyle?” Once your design team understands why you are choosing to remodel your home, they can help you find the most cost-effective ways to transform your home to fit the way you live. 

During your design consultation, your design consultant will help you establish a handful of expectations for your remodel. This includes a list of important changes you want to see in your home as well as a discussion around your personal design style and preferences.

Remember, remodeling is about improving your life by improving your home. Therefore, it’s important for you to communicate early on what you want to get out of your remodel.

Identify Issues & Problems

The in-home consultation is also a great time to start uncovering current issues you’re experiencing in your home. Some homes are badly designed due to the original builder’s lack of experience or expertise. Other homes were designed well for their day and age, but have since become outdated. However, in many cases, design issues are simply a matter of the home not meeting your needs as a homeowner.

Part of your design consultation will include a discussion about problems with the home that you want solved during the remodel. It’s also important to discuss problems that may interfere with the remodel or complicate the process. If you’re aware of any major issues with your home that might make construction difficult, now is the time to bring it up.

What should you do before your design consultation?

Your design team will guide you through the process of remodeling, but ultimately there are several responsibilities that fall to you.

Create a list of priorities

It’s important to list your priorities ahead of time.

Before meeting with your design team, have a conversation with your family about what you want in a remodel. Once you have a list of ideas, organize them by importance. 

At the top of your list should be problems that need to be solved. Simply naming the issue is often half the battle. Since you’re working with a design team, you don’t have to come up with solutions to these problems on your own.

After that, consider how your life might change over the next few years, and what parts of your home need to change with you. Do you plan to have children or pets? Would you a better space to work from home? Is this the home you plan to grow old in, and if so, is it equipped with everything you need for mobility and care as you age?

These are just a few of the questions that you should ask yourself when preparing for your meeting. If you have a complete list of everything that you need or want to change in your home, your design team will have a lot of information to work with. 

Make sure everyone involved in decision making is present

One of the most important things for couples and families involved in a remodel is that everyone gets a say in the design. If you’re going to spend several thousand dollars on a project like this, everyone involved in making decisions needs to be on the same page. 

The design consultation meeting is the best opportunity for everybody to voice their expectations. Therefore, please make sure that you and anyone who will have a say in the design will be present for the meeting. If this isn’t possible, you should at least have a conversation with them to make sure everyone agrees on the scope and budget of your remodel.

Include photos when possible

If you have some strong design inspiration that is difficult to capture with words alone, use photos! There are plenty of online resources you can use to draw inspiration for your remodel. Houzz and Pinterest are among the most popular. 

Go online, search through some photos, and pick out the ones that speak to your personality and style. If you see something that gives you a new idea, save that, too! Photos are a great way for your designer to get a better feel for how to design your remodel to personally fit you. 

Plan your financing

Even though it’s early in the process, you should know by now at least a ballpark range of how much your remodel will cost. To make sure that construction begins as soon as it can, now is the time to start getting the finances in order.

If you’re able to pay cash in full for a remodel, that’s usually the simplest way to do it. However, many people use some type of financing.There are several financing options available for home renovations, and different options work better for different situations.. 

To learn more about the financing options for a home remodel, check out this article. If you plan to pay for a remodel this way, you should speak with a financial advisor before your initial design consultation. That way, you will know exactly what steps you need to take in order to pay for your project.

What to expect after your design consultation

Once your meeting is over, your design team will spend 1-2 weeks distilling a budget and design proposal for your remodel. While they do this, there are a few things you should begin preparing, as well. 

Set aside your retainer

In order for your remodel to proceed to the next step, you’ll need to pay a retainer fee. This covers the cost of the design services, which includes the design plan set, construction planning, project management, material testing and other services that may be required to get the project off the ground. Don’t worry — this payment is only about 2-5% of the project remodel cost and counts towards the final bill.

Start planning the timing of your project

On average, it takes about 12 weeks to design a remodel. The actual time will vary depending on whether the project is a kitchen remodel, bathroom remodel, addition, or another type of project. During this time, you’ll get to see 3D renderings of your remodeled home, select products and materials, and plan out the construction phase. 

As we begin the process of designing a remodel, it’s time to turn your eyes towards a long-term plan. Construction often begins 8-12 weeks after you sign the contract, so it could take 24 weeks before your remodel begins. During this time, it’s important for you to start planning what your life will look like when your remodel moves to construction.

Our build teams work very hard to keep a remodel as contained and unintrusive as possible. That said, there will still be construction going on in your home, and you shouldn’t expect “life as usual” during this time. To learn more about what you should expect during a remodel, read this article.

Review the project proposal with your Design Consultant

Part of the Lamont Bros. showroom, where you’ll have your next meeting.

Your next meeting will take place in 2-3 weeks at the Lamont Bros. showroom. At this meeting, you and your design consultant will review and sign the project proposal. 

In the showroom, your design consultant will give you a tour of the different products you may use in your remodel. This may include cabinets, flooring, plumbing fixtures, countertops, wall tiles, and appliances. 

The goal of this meeting is to review and clarify your project so that you feel confident moving into the next step of the remodeling process. Your design consultant may discuss your preferred aesthetic using pictures to help you communicate your expectations. You’ll also review the scope of the project, along with a proposed budget and construction schedule.

Once you’ve reviewed and clarified these topics, all that’s left to do is sign your project proposal, and your design consultant will begin putting future steps into place.

Want to learn more about our design process?

The process of designing a remodel is not an easy one to face alone. If you’d like to learn more about how our design process works, you can read more about it in our article, “Our Design-Build Process: An in-Depth Look.” Here, you can read more about our design-build approach to remodeling, and what you can expect to take between now and your home’s grand re-opening. 

Perhaps you’re still considering whether or not a remodel is the right decision for you. If so, keep up the great research! When you’re ready to talk with a professional about remodeling, click the link below to schedule a free video call with one of our design consultants.