The Design Process

architects austin custom home

Step 1: The Design Proposal

When designing a home we welcome, encourage, and internalize client input from the initial concept down to the fine points of implementation. Through every step of the process, we ensure that our clients get what they want with no surprises. Our objective is to “do it right” the first time as we create the most enjoyable home-building experience possible. The catalyst for our design process is the Lifestyle Analysis©. Unlike other Austin architects and builders, the Jenkins approach brings both design and construction teams into the very first client interview.
Our intention isn’t just to complete a checklist of your preferences. We go well beyond your likes and dislikes. With every client, our goal is to produce a design that will exceed expectations from the very beginning—and we start with truly understanding the way you live your life—or the way you want to.

Just as much as what you say, we consider your tone and body language. The best custom design, we believe, is more than aesthetics—it should reflect an emotional connection and inform an emotional response. Our talented and devoted in-house home design team will guide you to the right decisions for your new home; our Chief Visionary will create the sketches that bring your vision to life.

The Lifestyle Analysis© examines all aspects of the lot itself, how you plan on actually living in your home, and, of course, your budget:

  • How do you entertain or plan to entertain in your new home?
  • What types of visitors will you have? How that will change if your family grows?
  • What will be your flow of traffic? Will everyone congregate in the kitchen?
  • How and where will you eat? Inside or outside? At the table or at the island?
  • Will you work at home? How? Where?

The shape and topography of the home site matters. Our design and construction are intended to maximize views, natural light, and prevailing winds. To us, energy efficiency is critical to great design, and we apply LEED principals (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to every one of our homes. Equally important is the construction team’s input and knowledge on how outdoor living spaces will be integrated, how the home sits on the lot, and which materials will be the most appropriate and sustainable. These items are often overlooked in the traditional method of design delivery.

Unlike other Austin Architects…the Guaranteed Cost Breakdown

After the Lifestyle Analysis© interview, the home design & construction team will review their conversation with you in detail. Together, they’ll develop a conceptual rendering of the layout of your home and convert it into a “Character Study” (shown below). With the Character Study, you’ll get a clear idea of what your home will look like from the outset. At the same time, we’ll produce your detailed cost breakdown. This “proof of concept,” or feasibility study, gives you the peace of mind that you can build the home you want within your chosen budget.

To read more about the process and technology we use and to see some more recent home design projects, click here.

Both the character study and feasibility study give you an unprecedented look at your home with minimal effort on your part.


Step 2: The Feasibility Study

At the same time we develop the Lifestyle Analysis©, we also present a detailed cost breakdown—or cost estimate—to determine feasibility.  Most home builders don’t provide any guarantees without having complete plans. But here’s the problem: by the time you have a complete set of plans, you’ve already spent a lot of time and emotional energy—even up to a year—designing a home you love. Going back to the designer and having those plans revised to bring the home back into budget isn’t an appealing option.

Architects generally don’t maintain an extensive cost database since they don’t have to deal with the constantly changing costs of labor and materials. An experienced builder, however, can bring a knowledge of cost-effectiveness to the conversation—knowledge that informs the best design choices for the topography or unique lot conditions. For example, a lot with significant slope can be designed many ways, some far more cost-effective than others. Consulting with a well-versed builder from the beginning of the design process means substantial savings in the long run.

Austin Architects Home Plans

Unlike other architects or home builders, Jenkins guarantees that we will be within +/- 5% on the original design cost estimate. We can do this because we’ve developed a proprietary job costing system that allows us to tell you what your home will cost—in a great amount of detail—even before you have full-scale plans. With Jenkins, there’s no “bait and switch” because the detailed cost breakdown includes every line item of costs, even including the landscaping and driveway.  We want you to be empowered with the information you need to make the right decision for you and your family. This feasibility study—a demonstration that the house you want is within your chosen budget—eliminates frustration, miscommunication, and sets the tone for a much more enjoyable experience throughout the process.

Step 3: Finalize the Plans

Talk to Our Designers

Connect with someone in our Design Department
to see your custom home ideas
come to life!

Once we have an approved design, it’s your turn to start dreaming. While our Design Team is developing the structural plans, electrical and roofing plans, flashing details, etc., you’ll be making your creative selections. To guide you along the way, we have developed, an exceptionally detailed and user-friendly construction management system that allows you to be organized, stay on track, participate in the selections, change orders, and watch the design and construction of your home.

From allowances, to paint colors, to appliances, to the tools that make all of your decisions productive and efficient, everything is right at your fingertips. If you prefer more guidance, our Interior Design Team will walk you through what you need to do and when. For those who’d rather be liberated from decision-making, our Interior Design Team will do all the heavy lifting for you. No matter how much or how little you’d like to be part of it, our goal is to create a process that suits you just as much as your future home itself.

Visualizations are a critical component to our design process. State-of-the-art technology allows us to see, in full color, the interior and exterior architecture of the home. This makes it much easier to communicate the overall vision and see what different materials will look like in the spaces.

While you are focused on finalizing the architecture and interiors of your home, we’ll be busy preparing your Detailed Construction Documents and Permits, which will include the:

  • Construction Contract
  • Final Cost Breakdown (incorporating any changes you have made during design)
  • Detailed Specifications Document
  • Construction Permits from local, city, and state agencies as required

With over 600 line items of everything you could ever want to know about your future home—from the type and gauge of electrical wiring to the PSI of the concrete slab—you’ll be an informed homebuilder, homeowner, and seller if the time ever comes.

Next, the team moves seamlessly to the construction phase of the project.

“After we got our first set of plans, I understood it all. The [Lifestyle Analysis process] saved a lot of time…and we hardly changed anything from that first design.”

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