Designing A Residential Development – Harrison Homes Sheds Light on the Process


A crucial component to the success of a residential development is the architectural design.  This is a layered process, through which the architect must thoroughly consider a multitude of competing factors to determine the best design to meet the developer’s specifications and needs of the end user.

We sat down with Harrison’s Director of Architecture, Jason McBryde, to shed some light on the methodology of the architectural process and how Harrison approaches the design-build of a single-family or townhome residential development.

Phase 1 – Preconstruction

The initial phase of designing a residential development starts with getting to know the client and understanding the project goals. Harrison Homes consults with the client and gathers information assembled for the build, including surveys, site plans, civil information, and design concepts. Harrison can provide feedback to existing architectural plans or create them from scratch, depending on the client’s needs.

“Architects gather an enormous amount of information before pen is brought to paper. First, it is important to identify the client’s goals, budget constraints, any site and civil challenges, city and state ordinances or requirements, and building code rules and regulations. For example, does the municipality require a fire sprinkler system? Are parking and pedestrian needs addressed in the site plan? What about the placement of the units’ utilities?  These basic parameters and project details must be resolved prior to beginning the design,” McBryde explains.

Throughout the preconstruction and consultative phase, Harrison provides value by helping to identify and resolve any challenges that may exist with the city or civil requirements for the new community.

Phase 2 – Initial Design Concepts

After collecting and studying the development assumptions and details, Harrison begins the design. Floorplans and their variations are drafted in CAD software. Next, concepts for the home elevations are created.  

Harrison Homes considers five main elements throughout the design process:

  1. Pattern and Repetition. Patterns are commonly found in brick, stone, window shapes, flooring, and trim.  A home will lack unity and harmony if it does not embrace some sort of repetition and pattern.
Hapeville design rendering. Architectural design by Harrison Homes

2. Symmetrical vs Asymmetrical. Architectural styles have distinct personalities and dictate if a home has symmetrical or asymmetrical characteristics. Contemporary and modern architecture often features asymmetrical windows and doors of varying sizes and shapes sporadically placed throughout the design.  In contrast, a traditional style of architecture is more symmetrical. Windows are the same size and uniformly placed directly above and below one another. Roof design can also complement each style. For instance, changing from a flat to gable to a hip shape roof can drastically change a home’s appearance.

Asymmetrical vs. Symmetrical Home Elevation
3. Contrast. Different textures, colors, and shapes aptly blended attract attention. This creates variation in the home design and elicits the “wow” factor every architect desires in the final product.
4.  Proportion and Scale. Proportion in architecture refers to how the spaces in the home compare with human scale. For example, ceiling heights, overall room length, and width. The function of the space designed also drives these determinations. Family rooms are often used for gathering and entertaining, so this space is designed to be much larger than a secondary bedroom, which is more private and personal. Ceiling heights on the main level may be 10’, while the second floor is 9’.
3.  Theme and Style. The theme of the residential development may be driven by the client’s taste or dictated by historical influences in the specific geographical area.  Municipalities often have a Design Review Board or Architectural Review Board, which sets guidelines the homes in the development must meet. Understanding these criteria up front cuts down on changes during the permitting process.  The first impression of a home is also created by the home’s theme. Common themes include modern farmhouse, transitional, contemporary, modern, or craftsman.
All the components that make up the homes in the community are carefully detailed and planned prior to construction.

Phase 3 – Cost Estimating & Final Design
The team at Harrison collaborates on each milestone of the build. After the preliminary construction drawings are submitted for feedback from the client, the team value engineers the plans based on the client’s budget and preferences. Harrison continues to examine and adjust the architectural plans and curates the interior design package until it meets the client’s specifications.

“A benefit of partnering with Harrison Homes as your Design-Builder is the architect works simultaneously with the purchasing team and our highly experienced builders to create unique designs that are value engineered and built to last,” says McBryde.  “The ability to work seamlessly together in-house cuts down on time, expense, and errors that otherwise may have been missed.”

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact Harrison Homes.

About Harrison

Harrison Homes is a design-build firm comprised of a group of professional residential construction experts and developers. We are a single-source solution for townhome and detached single-family home communities for Build-for-Sale and Build-for-Rent residential projects.

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