The Value of Design

May 6, 2020
The Value of Design

Setting Expectations

Your project's design will directly impact the amount of value and enjoyment your outdoor space brings to your home. Projects that are designed using a structured process led by a qualified designer, create lasting value for their owners.

A proper design process helps the owner discover what is possible, understand their options, and visualize the project before it is built. The resulting design will address the space's functionality, construction methods, cost, and creative details.

Goals of the design process

Discover, Understand and Visualize

Discover Your Style

The designed space should be a reflection of your personal style and preferences, not that of your designer. Many homeowners don’t know exactly what their style is and those that do, typically do not know how to translate it to the outdoors. Because of this, your designer should have a dedicated process for discovering your distinct style and preferences. This ensures that the design will be a space created to reflect you.

Discover the Property

It's important to gather all documentation on your property to review relevant easement or building code constraints. Your designer should also document the property's topography (grade map), allowing them to create a design that properly accounts for existing slopes. Identifying these at the outset will prevent designing a space that cannot be built.

Understand Your Options

Your project has endless potential and countless options for customization. From the size and shape to the materials and furnishings, your designer should show you what's possible and provide guidance on each option. Your feedback should then be incorporated throughout the formation of the design.

Visualize with a Variety of Deliverables

A good design process should culminate in a complete set of deliverables that include plan view drawings, construction details, and realistic 3D renderings. These will allow you to confidently move forward to construction.

The Marks of Good Design...

Good design is more than just creative ideas and attractive drawings


Functionality is an essential aspect of any design. It may seem simple, but it often takes a backseat to the creative elements of the design process.

When planning for functionality, it's important to ask: Does the design...

  • accommodate the number of people you want it to?

  • fit your preferred furniture arrangements?

  • provide clear areas to enter and exit the space?

  • offer proper flow, ensuring that people aren’t running into furniture or each other?

Assurance of Correct Construction

Most homeowners are unaware that many outdoor structures are not covered by our county/city permitting and inspection process. This puts the responsibility on the homeowner to ensure that the structures are designed and built properly. The only way for there to be accountability is clear communication of the technical details. Your designer should include construction drawings that outline your structures' design, measurements, materials, and footing details.

Construction Know-How

Many designers produce beautiful designs and 3D renderings without architectural education or build experience. This can result in spaces that cannot be built as intended or are poorly engineered. Architectural and construction knowledge is necessary to provide accurate instructions on how structures should be built.

Staying on Budget

Staying on budget is often the biggest concern for homeowners, especially if they fall in love with a design they can't afford to implement. Without a designated process and proper guidance, staying on budget is often difficult.

Avoiding Cost Creep

Homeowners often find themselves over budget on a design created for their dream space.  This is the result of a designer who lacks accurate knowledge of construction costs, wants to upsell the client with a stunning design, or does not discuss the budget after the initial meeting.  It is only after the design is finalized that the client realizes their project is over budget. 

When selecting a designer, it's important that he/she has a process to help clients stay on budget. Budget and pricing should be discussed before designing starts and the conversation should continue throughout the process.

Designing for Phases

Large outdoor renovation projects require significant investment and many choose to approach their project in financially manageable phases. It is essential to create a design that can be built in efficient phases. Improper planning can make building subsequent phases very costly when completed work must be taken up (and often rebuilt) to implement additional phases.

At Outdoor Dreams, we've created a consistent process to achieve these design outcomes with every project. Visit our Process page to learn more about the Outdoor Dreams Journey.

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