I take great pride in my builds, and detail is important to me. I am interested in how accurately a building can be replicated. That means a great deal of research of the subject matter, including a detailed photographic study and, if possible, sourcing architectural drawings. That gives the basis for the build.
Software comes into play in some cases, to test ideas and looks, but it is rare that I would design a build entirely in software now. I prefer to use real pieces! If I do use software, it’s the free program Digital Designer, available on the Lego® website.
Scale is a big early decision. My house and Maggie’s Centre builds are what is referred to as mini-figure scale, which basically means Lego figures fit in them to scale (roughly). The BALTIC build would have been enormous if built at that scale, so that was a smaller scale. Scale obviously has an large impact on cost of the build, so it’s important to consider it carefully.
Another important factor is whether it’s an exterior-only build, or interior and exterior. Recreating a building accurately inside and out involves a lot of work and great attention to detail, as proved with my Maggie’s Centre build.
I source my Lego mainly from Bricklink, and occasionally from Lego’s Pick-a-Brick service. It’s difficult to track exactly how much time is taken with a build, but the ones I’ve produced so far have been built over a period of 3 to 6 months. My latest, the Maggie’s Centre build, took somewhere around 12 days of work, including research and the not-insignificant time spent sourcing the relevant bricks on Bricklink. Some sections of a build require many different attempts to get the right final look – remember, there’s no instruction book!
Ultimately there will be compromises. Lego is available in many colours, but not all. Curves can be difficult. Sometimes accuracy has to be sacrificed for a stronger build – it’s no good being too fragile to hold it’s own weight. But I take the approach that so long as the structural integrity is not compromised too much, I’ll aim for the highest accuracy possible, even if that means more complexity.
If you want to have a chat about working with me, feel free to give me a call or drop me a line. I’ll do my best to give a ballpark figure of the costs, but it’s so dependent on scale, detailed required, and how quickly the model is required! Either way, I promise that the end result will be amazing!