2002-203 Barrington Manor Drive, Raleigh, NC, Raleigh, NC 27612, US

(919) 418-1601

custom residential design

 GDS is a residential design firm practicing in the Raleigh, NC area since 1995

About Us

Our Services

Our objective is to help our clients focus on their needs and develop a program of design by distilling their vision into physical form. 

Many times a client will approach us with nothing more than a vague idea of what they would like to achieve in building, adding onto, or renovating a home. Through a series of meetings, during which we may explore several approaches to the design solution, we collaboratively arrive at a design that fulfills those needs, both in practical and in aesthetic terms.

At this point we prepare a set of preliminary drawings, including floor plans, elevations and building sections so that the homeowner has a clear idea of what the final product will look like. Once again, if adjustments need to be made to better satisfy the client's wishes they are made at this point.

This set of drawings will, in many cases, be sufficient for a builder to give a "ballpark figure" estimate to determine the feasibility of the project.

From this point on it is a matter of refining the drawings and developing architectural details so that the built product achieves the true vision the homeowner is seeking.

"Our job is to take your vision and turn it into reality"

We have worked in numerous residential styles, from the most traditional to contemporary. In the case of an addition we always strive to creat a building that is in harmony between old and new, employing some design element which marries the two together. 

Services we offer:

  • Design consultation
  • Property analysis and evaluation
  • Proerty measurement
  • Photographic documentation
  • Floor plan design
  • Exterior design/renovation
  • Product selection
  • Construction supervision
  • Builder referrals
  • A commitment to customer service second to none

"I've had the opportunity to work with Les on a number of residential projects and have found his services 

and attention to detail outstanding. Les is very attentive to any changes that might be required and provides 

quick turnaround of amended drawings which ultimately helps keep our schedules in tact. 

Simply put....he's a part of our team."

Kent Zotter, President, Blue Moon Builders

Our Projects

We have designed projects ranging from interior renovations with no additional square footage up to new home construction of 6000 s.f. No job is too small, and every client gets our total attention no matter the size of the build.

See slides below for example of our work.

About Les Geller, Owner of GDS

  • Cum Laude graduate of the Syracuse Unitversity School of Architecture
  • B. Arts and B. Arch. degrees
  • Practicing residential design in the Raleigh area since 1995
  • Former member of Capital Area Preservation Revolving Fund Committee
  • Former Chair of Reedham Oaks Architectural Review Committee

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I hire a residential designer?

Is there a charge for an initial interview?

How does the design process work for an Addition or a Renovation?

How does the design process work for building a New Home

What are your fees?

What part of the work is covered by your retainer?

How long does the design and construction drawing process take?

Please see below for the answers to these very important questions:

Why should I hire a designer?

Graduate designers have been educated to think and visualize in 3 dimensions, which means that we can achieve the most creative use of space. We can come up with solutions to problems that most builders would not discover on their own.

We will provide you with a complete set of drawings. In so doing, we can communicate to you exactly what you will be getting with no unpleasant surprises further down the road. You will also avoid the costly process of making changes during the building process because all the decisions have already been discussed and finalized on the drawings.

You will be able to submit the drawings to multiple builders for bidding, which leads to a lower cost of construction. In many cases, the design fees may be offset by this saving alone.

Is there a cost for an initial meeting?

No. Provided that your property is within 15 miles of our office. If the meeting takes place further than that distance the charge for a consultation is $60 per hour.

How does the design process work for an additon or a renovation?

The following is a chronological outline of the design process for an addition /renovation project:

1. Determine client requirements -Once we have been selected to be the designer for your addition/renovation project we will meet with you at length to determine your requirements. This includes not only  the spatial and functional aspects, but the aesthetic ones as well. In other words, we need to understand not only how it works and how it will relate to your existing home, but also what you would like it to look like. This is probably the most important part of the project, since it will establish the program from which all of the subsequent work will emanate. The program may change during the desing process, but the basic scope and philosopy will be set.

2. Draw existing conditions - Unless the homeowner already has a set of plans for the existing residence (which is rare) the next step of the process is to measure and photograph the property. This is done so that we can produce drawings of the existing floor plan and elevations (i.e., what it looks like from the outside). These drawings are then used as the basis from which to begin the design process.

3. Design floor plans - Working from the drawings produced in Step 2 we begin to conceptualize the way the addition/renovation will function in floor plan. In some cases the result may be a single solution; in other cases, there may be two possible solutions. At this point we return to meet with you to determine which solution works best for you; or, if need be, find another one which is even better. At any rate, it is not until we have nailed down a floor plan that makes sense to you that we proceed to the next step.

4. Design elevations - Once a floor plan has been finalized we continue on to determine how the building will look from the outside (the elevations). Again, we may arrive at a single design, or we may propse an alternative for you to choose from. The important point to make is that we will not be finished until you are satisfied with the result.

5. Produce the construction documents - Once the floor plans and elevations have been approved we go on to produce the "working drawings", which are the drawings that 1) you will use to solicit bids from builders; 2) you will submit to your homeowner's association for approval; 3) the builder that you have chosen will submit to the local authorities to obtain necessary permits; and 4) your builder will actually build from. In addition to floor plans and elations these drawings will normally include foundation plans, roof plans, details, specifications, interior elevations and building sections. The beauty of this process is that you now have a set of drawings that you can submit to a number of builders to bid on, and they will all know exactly what you want, eliminating guess work.

6. Construction - This phase is handled by your contractor. However,we are always available to answer questions or concerns from you or your builder at no charge. If so desired, I am available to supervise the construction on an hourly basis.

How does the design process work for new home construction?

The following is a chronological outline of the design process for a new house:

1. Determine your requirements - Once you have chosen us to be the designer for your new home we will meet with you at length to determine your requirements. Part of this process will be achieved by completing a list of questions that I have developed over the years to help me understand what you like and/or dislike about your current residence, and what you would like to have inlcluded in your new home. This is the most important step in the process because it results in the actual scope of the work, both functionally and aesthestically, and it provides the springboard for all of our subsequent work. Other topics we will discuss are sustainability and energy efficiency, handicap accessibility and universal design. We will also talk about heated square footage and - of course - budget constraints.

2.  Site visit - Several visits will be made to the property to determine building placement. Location of the home will be determined by topography, solar orientation, view, existing vegetation, privacy from neighboring properties and accessibility. It is vital to maximize solar heating in the winter and, particularly in this climate, to minimize solar heat gain in the summer by proper placement of the structure on the site. This will also impact the design phase in terms of window placement and overhangs in the quest for eery efficiency.

3. Preliminary design - Concepts for the design will be developed and presented for your approval during this phase. We start with the floor plan, intending to meet all your requirements. This may take several meetings as, together, we tweak the plans to the point that you feel they meet and, hopefully, exceed your expectations. From here we move on to the elevations, or what the house will look like on the exterior. We take our cues on the aesthetic aspects of your home from your verbal explanations and any pictures or magazine articles you have to share that capture your imagination. This may range anywhere from traditional to modern, or some place in between, such as transitional. We don't impose any any preconceived ideas on you; rather, we take our inspiration from you.

4. Construction drawings and specifications - Once the preliminary design has become the Final Design we begin work on the construction documents. These are the drawings and spcifications from which your contractor will build your new home. But first you will be able to furnish multiple builders with these drawings to obtain bids on the work, makeing a more rational process to select a company to execute the work for you.These will also be the documents submitted for subdivision approval and construction permits.

5.  Construction - This phase is normally taken over by your bulider. I am always available to answer questions and concerns that you or your contractor may have at no charge. Additionally, as an optional service, I can act as your on-site representative to oversee the progress and make sure things are taking shape according to plan. This supervisory capacity is billed on an hourly basis as we make regularly schedule site visits.

What are your fees?

Every addition/renovation, and every new home, has its own complexities and challenges, so there is no single answer to your question. After having met with you to determine the scope of the work we will submit a fee proposal for you to evalueate.

What part of the work is covered by your retainer?

The retainer goes toward the design portion of the work, and amounts to one third of the total fee. The final two thirds of the fee are billed at predetermined points in the process, as spelled out in the fee proposal.

How long does the design and construction drawing process take?

That depends on the complexity of the design. For an addition the time frame could be from 6 weeks to 3 months. For a newly constructed home it could take from 3 months to longer, increasing with the size of the home.

Contact Us

Email, text or phone us for more information

Questions & Clarifications

We'd love to hear from you! Please reach out at your convenience so we can discuss your project.


2002-203 Barrington Manor Drive, Raleigh, NC 27612

(919) 418-1601