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Jackson Hole Land Sales Series Part 2

Selecting an Architect, Builder and Interior Designer for Your Home Site


By LintonBingle | May 24, 2016

Increase in Jackson Hole Land Sales

Spurred by a strengthening economy and the rising popularity of Jackson Hole as a destination, the number of homes available for sale in Teton County has decreased significantly during the past three years. While overall inventory in Jackson Hole was 6 percent lower at the end of 2015 compared to the same point in 2014, the number of vacant land transactions rose by about 14 percent last year. As real estate buyers increasingly consider land for sale in Jackson Hole amid historic lows in home inventory, our new three-part series will explore the essential considerations of buying land and building a house near the Tetons.

In part 1 of our Jackson Hole Land Sales Series, we explored the many considerations of finding and buying land for sale in Teton County. For part 2, we are offering our advice for building and outfitting your Jackson Hole home once you have identified your ideal plot of land.

The process of selecting an architect, builder and interior designer in Jackson Hole should not be viewed as three different decisions, but rather, three interdependent steps. Some builders may only work with certain architects, and some architects may also provide interior design. If you own heirloom furniture or treasured artwork that you want to showcase prominently in your home, an interior designer would ideally incorporate these elements from the outset of the design-build process.

Choosing a Jackson Hole Architect

Jackson Hole Architect Danny Williams 

Photo courtesy of Danny Williams Architects.

So you’ve found the perfect plot of land in Jackson Hole with an expansive mountain view. How is your architect going to accentuate that natural feature in their design? How will they maximize your home’s energy efficiency and natural light based on your land’s position relative to the sun? What about that creek running through the rear of the property or that gorgeous aspen grove to the west?

An experienced Jackson Hole architect will address this range of questions when designing your home. While some local architects have garnered an excellent reputation by developing a certain style and sticking resolutely to that style, other firms can meld your vision with their sensibilities to create a one-of-a-kind home. A local architect is an invaluable asset in the design and permitting process, and their familiarity with the town and county’s complicated land-development regulations and building code will save you money in the long run.

Our recommendations for a local architect can vary greatly depending on your specific needs, so we always encourage our real estate clients to contact us with questions. When homebuilders are looking for a classic look that uses wood and stone to reflect the area’s natural beauty, we often recommend architect Danny Williams because of his penchant for precise plans and definite timelines. For a more modernist home design, Berlin Architects and Carney Logan Burke Architects bridge the gap between Western and minimalist styles by pairing glass and metal with sleeker wood and stone. If you’re looking for a truly custom home design that is sure to stand out in your neighborhood, there is generally more flexibility to be found with independent architects like Nona Yehia of E/Ye Design and Shawn Ankeny of Ankeny Architecture and Design.

It is important to ask prospective architects if they have worked with the builders and interior designers that you are considering, and if not, whether there are any builders or interior designers that they typically prefer. Gauging how these three parties might interact will help you keep your vision and timeline intact during the building process.

Once you have selected your architect and started the design process, there are options to consider about their degree of involvement during the construction phase. If you are not a local resident and are building from afar, keeping the architect as your builder liaison will be money well spent.

Finding the Right Builder in Jackson, Wyoming

Jackson Hole Builder On Site Management

Photo courtesy of On Site Management builders. 

Before you start requesting bids from builders in Jackson Hole, you can alleviate future stress by coming to terms with certain inevitable outcomes. The permitting and building process is probably going to take at least a year, and often times upwards of two years. While some builders are more transparent than others, there will most certainly be some degree of variance between their cost and time estimates and the actual results.

You may be able to reduce your overall building costs by purchasing some home materials (ex. light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc.) directly from suppliers, but certain builders may require that all materials be purchased through them. Along the same lines, some builders’ bids will be more comprehensive than others, so it is essential to thoroughly examine what is included in the scope of work.

In theory, a builder’s bid will provide a solid estimate of the costs of constructing your home, but there are multiple factors that can inflate costs or impact the quality of work as the building process rolls along. Check that the builder’s scope of work includes a detailed description of the specific designs and materials that you have in mind. For example, if there is no conceptual drawing or allowance for the custom fireplace surround you are envisioning, the bid will have a lower-than-actual cost estimate that assumes standard finishes. This lack of specificity can lead to costly “change orders” throughout the building process.

When one builder’s bid comes in lower than others in the Jackson Hole market, you should examine the reasons why. Have they been less comprehensive with the allowances they included in the bid? Will the firm’s project supervisors plan on spending less time on-site? Do they accept bids from multiple subcontractors in order to reach those lower costs? While the lowest bid may be appealing, are the bids identical in quality of materials and labor estimates? It is important to examine the bid line-by-line to prevent added expenses, inconsistent finishes and/or labor overruns. We recommend that you lean on your architect to help you sort through these contractor and subcontractor bids.

Before getting too caught up in numbers, you should also consider the fact that you will be working directly with your contractor for a lengthy time. Do you like their personality and demeanor? Do they seem like the type of professional you’d want to deal with if complications arise? Clear and comfortable communication with your builder is essential in the building process.

You are always welcome to seek our advice on which local builders can best address these concerns while bringing your vision to life. While your ultimate decision will depend on market conditions, your timeline for completion and their availability, we are happy to recommend some options from the extensive list of Jackson Hole builders.

An Interior Designer for Your New Jackson Hole Home

Jackson Hole Interior Designer WRJ Design

Photo courtesy of WRJ Design.

If you want to ensure a cohesive interplay between your home’s design and its furnishings, we recommend involving an interior designer early on in the process. Some Jackson Hole architecture firms (ex. Carney Logan Burke) incorporate interior design into their services so that a holistic look is fostered from the beginning. As with architects, some interior designers will be more willing to cater to your ideas and preferences, while others will have a signature style that they work within.

For a custom interior design that is built on your feedback, we have seen many of our clients become happy customers of designers Elisa Chambers and Saxon Koch at Snake River Interiors or Trauner Fay Designs, the firm of designers Terry Trauner and Kristin Fay. If you’re searching for a modern Western style befitting Jackson Hole, but still want to refine that look toward your personality, WRJ Design and dwelling have earned a reputation for considering their customers’ requests while creating a consistent, natural style.

Homebuilders on a budget may go without the services of an interior designer, but keep in mind that professional designers have multiple resources depending on your price range. Even if you plan on procuring your own furnishings, it could be worth the cost to have an initial consultation with a Jackson Hole interior designer to fine-tune the look you’re after.

By focusing on these key relationships between your home’s architecture, construction and interior design, you will be more prepared for any curveballs during the building process. Fully understanding the aesthetics and costs related to the services of architects, builders and interior designers in Jackson Hole will lead to greater satisfaction with your choices and, ultimately, the final results of your home build.

Check out part 3 of our Jackson Hole Land Sales Series, which examines the scrapping or remodeling of older homes as an alternative to building on vacant land.