Practical Guide to Design

I thought it might be interesting to share how we, as architects, help our clients. One of the most frequently asked questions from my clients is how to make their house projects greener. Although there are many things one can do, ultimately the most important thing is to value the limited resources that we have, and to utilize them wisely.

It is really amazing to me that many of the green projects that are being touted in the media are not evaluated on their monetary cost, as a budget is equally as important as the usage of sustainable systems. In this vein, here are some concepts that I believe should be considered for any project.

Determine your space needs, and see if you can live with less. Many of us grew up sharing a bedroom. Children do not miss what they do not have. Does every bedroom need a bathroom? In many situations with a growing family, more living area is inevitable for day-to-day survival. Even with these needs, work with the architect to make the best use of the space for you and your family. If an additional bedroom or bathroom is needed, create efficient rooms that enhance not only your floor plan but also your functionality.

Recognize your reality. If you are not a gourmet cook, realize that you do not need to over-invest in your appliances. If you are just going to boil water on the stove, you do not need an 18,000 BTU burner. Conversely, recognize that your horizons can expand and that you could become an enthusiastic chef or baker (I did!).

Do not design a house for resale, but for yourself. As the days of flipping a house for quick profit are over, design your house for your needs, not for the fictitious resale. This will allow you to focus on your priorities, and allow your house to be customized to your personality.

Don’t cut corners in the wrong places. Use an architect from the beginning to help with a solid plan. Omitting this step can result in expensive mistakes and a space that you are not happy with in the end. Remember that architects are experts in spatial relationships, and knowing what makes a room feel right.

Build your budget working with an architect and a contractor. The horror stories of building budgets doubling during construction should not happen if you have well detailed drawings, and a competent contractor.