As a professional builder, we are practiced at taking a client's concepts and ideas and transforming them into three-dimensional reality. It is a skill we have honed over decades. It is our work and our passion.

For our clients, translating their vision for their new home into words can be both challenging and frustrating. Putting a mental vision or a feeling into words is not easy. A strategy we recommend to our clients is to let pictures do the talking for them.

To start, gather a stack of home and lifestyle magazines and scan through them for photos of homes, rooms, and other features that match those in your head. When you see something you like, cut it out and set it aside. Similarly, if you see an article about a particular feature, floor plan, material, or product that sparks your interest, clip it out, as well.

The trick to this exercise is to work freely. Don't think about it too hard. Later, you may discard images that, on second glance, don't measure up or aren't important to you anymore. Allow yourself to be open to new things that you may not have envisioned, but that are attractive or interesting in some way. It all helps in formulating a clear idea of what you want and will search for in a new home.

Another tip: Allow sufficient time to build a good collection of photos and clipped articles. Remember, this is your dream home. It deserves considered thought rather than a weekend rush job. That being said, a reasonable deadline will ensure that the process does not grow stale and fizzle out.

The best way to organize your dream file is up to you. You can create a collage or simply allow the clips to remain loose in a folder. Another approach is to separate your collection by categories such as exterior and interior features, types of materials, or by room.

Professional builders truly appreciate buyers who know what they want and can effectively communicate those needs and desires. Documenting your dreams with a collection of photos and articles will crystallize your thinking and provide critical information for a builder as you begin your search for a new home.