"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." -Benjamin Franklin
Franklin was referencing fire protection, though his philosophy relates to many fields, including architecture. In his time, the community believed people were lucky to get out alive … and inevitably, the building burned down. "This is just what happens," I imagine they repeated. No, Franklin said, instead of residents having to find wells to put the fire out, what if we provided a vehicle, driven by professionals, to save lives and prevent property damage? It had never been thought of before. In the same way, people of our time accept that new construction homes inevitably cost too much. Yet, a custom-designed new construction home from a boutique architectural firm isn’t exclusively for celebrities; it’s possible for all. It’s not an issue of cost; it’s an issue of perception. Many think an architect as someone who does drawings for permits, but the reality is the architect can, and should, do a lot more.
If we’ve never lived on the moon, we can’t understand what that could be like. The difference between living on the moon and living on earth is unfathomable. Yet the difference between an economy sedan and a luxury sedan, a suit versus your favorite jeans, traveling in coach rather than first class … we can at least imagine the difference. If given the choice, we’d choose luxury. But what if you could pay the same amount to sit in first class as to sit in coach?
As an architect, I see custom-designed new construction homes as a financially feasible option, just as affordable as buying a home or renovating an existing one. Because big construction developers tend to cater to the cookie cutter design approach that fits the masses, it’s frustrating that people continue to line up for it. The ‘prize’ is that they relinquish their control and hand off their checkbooks and often pay twice as much for materials, compared to what they would pay an architect. This is because high-end approaches are beyond the developers’ reach. I’m stunned to find even athletes and actors pay high prices for low-quality design.
My firm is a boutique firm that tailors each design to the client’s needs –– and budget. All developers and architects have different processes. Some are fast food; some are gourmet. From the start, our gourmet process finds solutions that support and enhance your life.
Many people are surprised to find that the cost for my service isn’t out of reach. By comparison, I feel some developers may be providing fast food at a gourmet rate. Why would somebody pay $800,000 for a $400,000 home?
To avoid paying unnecessarily high costs, here are the signs to be aware of:
1) The first point of contact is a salesperson.
2) The second person is a project manager, who has likely been a salesman or in this firm for enough time to understand the process. However, the manager doesn’t fully understand the techniques needed to successfully complete the project.
3) You never meet the architects. They never ask you what you need. All of this is just sort of "ready bake."
Whereas when you come to an architect directly, you can share your vision. The architect is an active listener and a problem-solver who wants to identify your needs and what it would mean for your life to become even better, all the while keeping the client in the driver’s seat. When an architect provides the time and resources so that the client can make the best decision … that’s a good sign.
A good architect plans ahead. Our team saves you more money because we save time and frustration that you would otherwise have with change orders –– things you notice in a ready bake project that need to be corrected, changed or upgraded because you aren't happy with what you see. Unfortunately, some of these discoveries happen AFTER you've moved in when it's too late. Things like shoddy quality, traffic paths that don't make sense, hard- or expensive-to-maintain aspects. Hiring an architect to create a custom-designed new construction home is for the person who is willing to invest in material quality and design foresight. They recognize that the home will in a large part determine their happiness, and they want to avoid spending more over the long term for an inferior result.
My firm’s 5 Senses Design™, biophilic and universal design approaches set us apart. Through this lens, we connect with our clients. Is it important for you to be on the same page with the people you’re working with? I assume the answer is yes. Solving a problem with someone you trust and can communicate with is a lot easier, correct?
Just as we connect with the client, biophilic design connects my clients with the world around them to enhance their health and productivity. There is a certain thoughtfulness and sophistication that comes with a biophilic design. For example, an expansive glass wall can welcome the outdoors in. Even the materials we specify are chosen for their contribution to the desired result. They aren't just "standard," one-size-fits-all. We make the designs unique and understand the problem – allergies, hobbies that require a supportive space, a desire to be more connected to nature – and create the solution that will fit in with the context of the client’s lifestyle.
Universal design is designed for the future. If an in-law comes to age in place in your home, you won’t have to endure a costly renovation. That’s because the elements of the existing design have already been prepared for it – for instance, a grab shelf that doesn’t look like a grab bar, or framework in place for elevators. People often think of elevators as too expensive or lavish, but in the present, they provide a much grander feel … and accommodate future needs.
All in all, timeless design is important to me. A custom-designed new construction home is possible for all. You can have a balanced, practical and beautiful home. It doesn’t have to be cookie-cutter.