Let's be Direct
You had questions about the meaning of direct-from-designer, versatility, outdoor living spaces and more, so three of the nation’s most prominent designers have utilized these next few pages to answer what’s on your mind.
(DDH Reader) What’s all the buzz about “direct-from-designer?”
(Frank) Direct-from-designer, not unlike direct-from-the-manufacturer, means communicating with and purchasing from the owners or creators of the product. This is important, because it usually means consumers are getting the best possible information before purchasing. And that they’re getting the products at the lowest prices.
(Don) It means more personalized service and more options. Direct contact with the creators means communicating with those that know the products best. (Dan) We feel that direct interaction with our customers is a benefit of immeasurable value to both our clients and us. It allows our customers access to the best information available about our home designs, and it gives us the best opportunity to describe the many features found in our homes. This direct interaction is also invaluable to us in determining consumers’ preferences and needs.
(DDH Reader) What’s your definition of a “Designer Dream Home?”
(Dan) A “designer dream home” is a home crafted by the designer utilizing his experience and talents in a way that is uninhibited by nothing but the desire to create the most perfect home possible for the most discriminating client… himself.
(Frank) A “designer dream home” is a plan that is fully functional for today’s complex lifestyles and includes upgraded amenities today’s homeowners desire.
(Don) Deemed to be the designers’ best works, designers have incorporated features that seem to be on the hot list. These are homes that include the features that experience and market feedback say homeowners want — plans that go above the three-bed, three-bath, two-car-garage program with exteriors that reflect today’s choices — not the same old thing with a new skin.
(DDH Reader) Why should people choose a pre-designed plan instead of a custom design?
(Don) Pre-designed plans are developed from consumer feedback and market trends. They’ve been “tested,” so they help with time and cost savings. They can be bid out and confirmed against budget for construction with predictable results.
(Dan) While a custom design has its rewards, nothing compares to the benefits from both a financial and time investment standpoint that a pre-designed home plan brings. Additionally, access to designs from the country’s top architects and designers gives the customer a much superior product as compared to other possibilities.
(Frank) Pre-designed, or stock, plans provide immediate solutions for someone’s housing needs, whereas the process to create a totally custom design is a lengthy one — sometimes many months. The expertise that is used to create a pre-designed plan is the same as used in the custom process. “Tested” means they’re proven plans; the market has already accepted the product. Being built numerous times gives credibility to the plans. In some cases, a consumer may visit the home before making the decision to purchase one plan versus another.
(DDH Reader) What should people look for or think about when selecting a plan from a magazine page?
(Frank) People should analyze their lifestyle before purchasing a plan. They need to choose a plan that most fits their day-to-day living. Your home is no different than other products you use. If an automobile or article of clothing doesn’t fit, you won’t be satisfied. The same goes for your home; it must fit comfortably for all the occupants.
(Don) Floor plan, floor plan, floor plan, as well as the exterior — remember it can be modified to suit your needs. The plan should meet your lifestyle and site considerations such as setbacks, topography and views. Check room sizes against your existing home and anticipate furniture fit and flexibility. Think about how long you’ll own the home and if it will meet your needs later. And don’t forget about the size and budget for construction.
(Dan) While many people are initially attracted to a striking exterior, selecting a plan that has an efficient and thoughtful layout is important. Finding the right combination of size, rooms and configuration is difficult enough, yet making sure these selections create the right atmosphere for you and your family is essential. Selecting a home plan from one of the Designer Dream Homes™ designers is the best way for ensuring these needs are met.
(DDH Reader) Why do you think your company is one of the more successful stock firms in the nation?
(Dan) Our commitment to design excellence and attention to detail are the two biggest factors attributable to our success. We always strive to create designs that are fresh, innovative and unique. These principles have brought us countless satisfied customers as well as over 350 industry design awards.
(Don) Experience and sole focus on this product. We listen to the market, survey consumers, hire the best people and stay ahead of the market by always looking for ways to improve.
(Frank) We are a company of talented, knowledgeable professionals who strive to be the best in the industry. We have many years of experience designing and creating homes for builders, developers and individuals with countless numbers of diverse requirements and needs. And we work very hard to fulfill the needs of our clients and continue to serve after the plan is created.
(DDH Reader) What are some of your company’s signature plan features?
(Don) Porches, open floor plans, efficient design, family focus, curb appeal, impressive rear exteriors as well as front exteriors, straight-forward layout for straight-forward framing and construction, correct scale and proportion, responsive to how the space will be utilized and livable…to name a few.
(Frank) Open floor plans, building efficiencies, technically correct drawings, market acceptance, curb appeal, looking towards the future, new homes that blend with classic or established communities, lifestyle-oriented, among others.
(Dan) Open flowing spaces, interesting ceiling treatments, beautifully detailed interiors, luxuriously appointed master baths, outdoor living spaces and thoughtfully crafted exteriors are just a few of the many features that make a home plan a Sater Design Collection plan.
(DDH Reader) Aside from designs, what is the importance you place on customer service?
(Frank) Customer service is part of our mission statement. We pride ourselves on customer service. We have customer service personnel trained to fulfill all requests from customers and technical personnel, and to answer questions prior to purchase or after construction has started.
(Dan) Our desire to please our customers is of the utmost importance to us at Sater Design Collection. We strive to give attentive and enthusiastic service to each one of our clients and are confident in the knowledge that our designs bring the very best in home design.
(Don) We strongly believe our success depends on our ability to identify and respond to our customers’ needs, and we take pride in our award-winning team of customer service professionals, who are highly trained specialists in their field. We take a proactive approach to customer service, striving to anticipate the needs of our clients before they arise and follow our customers from “concept to completion” of their homes, providing customer service in various capacities along the way — from order processing to technical questions about our home plans.
(DDH Reader) How does the custom design part of your company affect/benefit the design of a stock plan?
(Dan) We are primarily a custom design firm. Our experiences from creating these unique and innovative home designs are applied to the creation of our pre-drawn home designs. We design each home with the same commitment to design excellence.
(Don) It keeps us creative and innovative, and responsive to new ideas, products and trends around the country. Different site conditions can force you to develop a new way to arrange the home, which can be applicable to other plans. Custom clients aren’t always so focused on resale, resulting in more non-standard solutions that truly respond to how a family lives.
(Frank) The custom and modification department plays a critical role in our business. The department gets continuous feedback from clients’ requests for modifications, which leads to new trends. Custom plans sometime become part of the stock portfolio, increasing the number of available plans.
(DDH Reader) As consumers, we’re learning the importance of versatile floor plans and flexible spaces. How do your designs fit these criteria?
(Frank) Today’s lifestyle is complex, fast paced and technically advanced — enough said. People are longing for their homes to simplify this modern lifestyle. We design flexible spaces into almost all of our plans, because any space that makes for convenience is a welcomed and integral part of a modern design.
(Don) The openness allows different uses for the same space. The vast majority of our plans include a bonus room that is utilized in many different ways. Generally, one of the bedrooms can be flexed into a den, study, media room, etc. Porches can also be enclosed to create sunrooms, Carolina rooms or sitting rooms, and breakfast nooks can be turned into a family computer hub.
(Dan) A family’s needs are constantly changing, and they need a home design that adapts to those changes. Our designs address those needs with multi-use rooms and flexible spaces incorporated into each home plan.
(DDH Reader) What emerging trends should we know about?
(Dan) Smaller but better detailed home plans are certainly in demand from consumers these days, as well as designs that are more three-dimensional in nature. Employing architectural details not merely on the front of the home, but the interior and all four exterior elevations as well, gives the home a holistic feel.
(Frank) Homes that provide spaces that simplify daily routines and change as needs change are homes that are in high demand in today’s world. These spaces include large pantries, mud rooms, bonus rooms, oversized laundry/utility rooms and storage areas.
(Don) Quality verses size — today’s homeowners prefer quality finishes and fixtures rather than more square footage. We’re also seeing a focus on durability and low-maintenance. Many people are also going away from two-story spaces, and there’s a desire for more modest ceiling heights, but with some detail such as a tray, coffer or lower cathedral. There’s a mixture of exterior finish materials for a more custom look and more covered exterior space to expand the living area.
(DDH Reader) How do your designs prepare for the future?
(Don) As mentioned before, versatility and adaptability to changing needs, first-floor master suites, open floor plans and low-maintenance materials. As architects and custom designers, we stay aware of the newest market trends and products that add to our customers’ quality of life.
(Dan) Timeless design and the latest technological features are employed in each design we create. Avoidance of trendy styles and spaces are also important in ensuring your home design is valuable now and in the future.
(Frank) A room that starts as a nursery becomes a home office, then becomes an elderly parent’s bedroom is an example of flexible space that prepares for the future. We’re providing a family with a permanent setting from which to live, grow and maintain stability throughout the years.
(DDH Reader) How are your home plans changing as our population ages?
(Frank) As the baby boomer generation nears retirement age, the need for senior housing is becoming a serious requirement. We are designing plans with seniors in mind. Some considerations are one-level living, wider hallways and doors, and larger baths. We also have multi-family plans, which allow a builder to develop entire communities of senior housing with stock plans.
(Don) We’re designing smaller, more efficient plans, which take less cost and energy to maintain. We’re also creating open layouts that provide ease of movement, with abundant light that inspires a positive environment. We’re creating additional master suites for homes with extended families, and we’ve even incorporated elevators in a few of our designs.
(Dan) Implementation of Universal design elements helps to ensure baths and doorways are accessible and spacious to accommodate all who enter.
(DDH Reader) From a design standpoint, how important are outdoor living areas?
(Dan) We find outdoor living areas are increasing in demand, and we’ve responded by incorporating features such as outdoor kitchens and bars, fireplaces and sitting rooms.
(Frank) Outdoor living spaces are not new to us. Being Southerners, we have been aware of such spaces for quite some time. Decks, porches, screened porches and grilling/cooking areas have been part of our design philosophies for a while. Also many of our plans orient all views to the rear for optimized waterfront and golf course views, as well as privacy.
(Don) Outdoor living spaces expand the useable area at a fraction of the cost. They capture a significant part of today’s health-conscience lifestyle, provide for family interaction, and as more and more of us work inside, they offer an escape or refuge.
(DDH Reader) What have your customers asked you for or about in the last year?
(Don) A small computer/homework space, expanded laundry/work center, designated storage space, bonus or future expansion space, pantries, more outdoor living space, larger garages, one dining space and open kitchens that are gathering spaces.
(Dan) Consumers more and more are asking for elegant but casual living spaces. The need for unnecessary and wasteful rooms is being rapidly replaced by spaces that are flexible and practical. They also are more aware of the importance of well-thought design and the value it brings.
(DDH Reader) Were there any products introduced this year you think we should know about?
(Don) The quality of synthetic or man-made exterior finish materials such as stone and siding has drastically improved. And so have vinyl windows; they’re more energy efficient and allow natural light to come in while keeping out the sun’s harmful rays. There are more choices in interior finishes such as solid-surfacing, wood flooring and tile, as well as new mold-resistant products and detailing.
(Dan) “Family Studio” appliances from Whirlpool are transforming the way Americans view the laundry room, with innovative products that liberate time while saving clothing and resources. Also, concrete roof tile is gaining popularity by consumers who recognize its beauty and durability.
(Frank) Allowances for technology — for example wiring, computer space and “smart house” products. And alternative building materials are all on the forefront of today’s home-building consumer.