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One of the most inherent aspects of a well-designed home is that is has been tailored to meet the individual needs and wants of a specific client. An architect can design a cutting edge, architectural masterpiece, but if it doesn’t fit the client, it fails on the most fundamental level.
In order to achieve a design that is architecturally pleasing and client specific, an architect first must assemble all of the various ideas, details, and concepts from each individual client into a physical composition that embodies the idea of “home” to each client. This idea of a perfect home is unique to every individual, and acts as a roadmap to the final design.
There are a large number of builders/developers that crank out hundreds of similar houses designed for the masses. These houses may meet the needs of some people, but anyone wanting to create their dream home often ends up feeling like they’ve sacrificed in one way or another. These houses have been designed to fit as many people as possible with the least amount of options, and certainly are not molded to fit the individual homeowner.
In order to ensure that a design is truly client driven, the design process should be a collaborative effort between the client and the architect. The in-depth conversations that occur throughout this process influence both the small details as well as the overall character of a home. Whether the style of a home is craftsman or modern, Victorian or tudor, the end result needs to be a design that both reaches a higher level of quality design and brings the client joy. Throughout the design process, the elements of site, functionality, ease of flow, efficiency of space, quality of materials, structure, architecture, and cost are all weighed. An architect uses his vast experience in design and construction to interpret the individual needs and wants of a client into a cohesive, well designed home that is structurally and architecturally sound. The final result is an interpretation of how each of these items combine into one cohesive, balanced structure.
You’ve found what appears to be that perfect plot of land and are ready to start designing your new home. Where do you start?
Before you put pencil to paper, you have to first begin to understand the site. What are the requirements? What are the restrictions? Are there trees and views that need to be taken into consideration? Every plot of land has it’s own set of guidelines that will serve to influence the design. The best place to start is by doing a little research into the site and nailing down the requirements.
Once some background research has been completed, the next step is to establish a list of needs and wants for the project. Needs are typically the core items that drive the design. Wants are often budget driven and may end up being dropped if the construction budget gets too tight. These lists can consist of things like the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, but they can also include specifics like marble counter tops. The more information you have up front, the easier it is to make sure nothing is forgotten.
With a new construction project, you don’t have the design style already established. For example, adding an ultra modern addition to a turn of the century craftsman may result in an addition that seems out of place. When you’re starting with a blank slate, you have more options. However, you always want to take the feel of the surrounding houses into consideration, even if you choose to go in a different direction.
The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is very applicable when conveying ideas between clients and architects. There are times when a client doesn’t know the architectural terms for the different styles or parts of buildings. I often get clients to send me examples of homes that they really like, or design elements that they want to integrate into their designs. It helps eliminate the possibility of miscommunication.