SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
Houzz Logo Print
brandyleigh

Architects...can I ask you a question?

brandyleigh
6 years ago

I have dreamed of designing my own home since I was a little girl....I seriously was drawing up floor plans when I was in the 5th grade. So here I am at the point of designing. My intention was to find an exterior that I liked and use that footprint to design the floor plan. I have schooled myself in house design mainly from reading Sarah Susanka books, among a few others. But I'm no architect! I have an engineering background, and I don't quite trust my design when it comes to the exterior. However, I really do want to take a hands on role when it comes to designing my family's home.

I have a good idea of how I want the exterior to be and when I found Mitch Ginn's Elberton Way, it met my criteria. Hearing from a couple of you, I have questioned my approach. I do intend to work with an architect to iron out any areas I'm not comfortable with in my design. I just thought it would be simpler to use the exterior on the Elberton Way because honestly I can't see an architect designing something I like better with the floor plan I would ideally have if I could lay it out exactly how I wanted it.

So am I missing something? I hate to hire someone this early on to just be disappointed with their design.

Advice?

Comments (69)

  • lookintomyeyes83
    6 years ago

    jannicone - please don't paint all engineers with the same brush - I'm a female engineer who is also a writer, living history reenactor of the Viking era, woodworker, and have a bunch of other creative hobbies!

    Brandyleigh, I would suggest the following:

    - take the time to really think about your life, what you like/dislike, but more importantly how you live, what pieces of furniture, hobbies, daily tasks et define YOU and your family. We found a helpful book was 'Designing your perfect house' and 'what not to build'. If you search the forums there are several other topics with more recommendations.

    - We created a 76 (yes, 76!) page document (i forget the architectural term) that highlighted who we were, how we use each space, our likes/dislikes, and our goals for the house (such as aging in place).

    - We identified setbacks, legal descriptions, easements, and natural features that would influence our design.

    - we performed a light study to see where the sun would be at different times of the day and year, choosing to put light in rooms where we would spend the best parts of our day.

    - we allowed for future expansion/change

    - we considered future development/landscaping on our two acre lot. Including future maintenance activities (such as septic tank emptying).

    - created cutsheets of what we liked, and didn't like. My husband and I would go sit n the park (a nice, refreshing, neutral space) with a laptop and discuss until we'd reached consensus or a reasonable compromise.

    - we drew bubble/flow diagrams until we'd realized what worked out best for our lifestyle.

    - we created our 'must have' and 'wish to have lists'. We identified what things we'd sacrifice if the budget came back too high.

    - we turned the bubble diagrams into a few concept homes. We created rough plans, and ensured treasured artifacts furniture/lifestyle choices would be preserved with that floor plan. Eg, for us we designed our living 'closed concept' to ensure we had enough space to hang two large tapestries that we love. We increased the walk to the kitchen, but are using a ramp instead of stairs to access the house from the garage so that we could use a little (motorized) trolley as we age if it become a problem.

    - we researched architectural styles, and committed to meeting MOST of their typicalities, but left some room for inspirational. Eg, our home is 'French Eclectic', but we are aiming for 'historically inspired', rather than 'historically accurate'. Eg, Real stone veneer would be recommended for the entire house, but our climate is damaging to stone, so we are using a faux-stone that will give the same look, but survive our climate.

    - we created a 3d model of the house, did more lighting studies, mentally 'lived' in it, then took a break for a month and did it again. Each time, we realized that there were tiny improvements that would make it a bit better. Yes, we even dropped 3D people into the model for scale. We had a friend fly our property with a drone so that we could make it ultra-realistic.

    - we got prelim pricing from a few builders, selected 1 that we really liked, and paid him (and a structural engineer) a small fee to review our plans, providing pricing and suggestions for improvement. He helped us work through some challenges with HVAC/plumbing/other restrictions, and made suggestions to improve the quality and 'fun' of our build.

    - we met with the builders subs to confirm/revise to suit their recommendations.

    - We detailed EVERYTHING in the house, down to the doorstops.

    Now, we are ready to build!

    An architect probably could have done it faster than the above, but my husband and I are very creative engineers/engineering technologists, and we saw this as a fun challenge, not just as a way to save money.

    We've shown our plans to several people, and they all LOVE it.

    If you like, PM me and I can send you some (partially redacted for privacy) of our spreadsheets and renderings of our house. You'd probably like them.

  • brandyleigh
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    cpartist, I just had a couple design classes in college. I have had the chance to exercise my 3D visualization through different classes and work experience. I have read house plan books for years :) I'm thankful that I have the time to feel my way through this process as we are looking to build in a couple years. And it has surprised me what a challenge it is to do a floorplan and do it well.

    I like your floorplan! Did you use a program to give you a 3D rendering? That has been so helpful for me to see it in 3D and picture walking through it.

    I'm intrigued by the balance of designing the interior and exterior simultaneously. I feel like my interior design would not match my exterior design. So that's what made me choose an exterior and work with it. I have to let go of my perfectionist tendency. Life is not perfect and neither will be my house!

  • Related Discussions

    Funcolors-can I ask you a paint question?

    Q

    Comments (5)
    Is it a myth? Hmmmm... I would have to say it's really yet another color concept taken from the two-dimensional world of fine arts that does not apply to three-dimensional architectural color. The idea is to use light and dark, value, to create two-dimensionally the sense of depth and dimensional that is inherent and naturally defines our three-dimensional world. Our vision system is three-dimensional as well. We see from two points of view at the same time so we see things three dimensionally. Because of that factor, painting a room, structure, the built environment is very, very different from trying to duplicate and express what is experienced in the three-dimensional world via painting on canvass or other artistic modes. i.e. The color strategies that make for a good painting do not contribute to what is needed to purposefully color the built environment so it is humanly supportive AND aesthetically pleasing at the same time. But people like to think they do. In our society we, by default, have turned to various creative fields like fine arts, graphic design, and interior design for color knowledge for help in applying color to structure. That is a mistake. Color can't shrink a room any more than it can add square footage and "expand the room". At this point, the nursery rhyme that dark colors advance and cool colors recede is so ingrained that we need to stop, experience, absorb, and then articulate the affects we feel from color in order to determine our real color truths - separate those truths from all the ridiculousness out there in blogs, on websites, ebooks, and whatever. Lots of people feature themselves as color design experts but really aren't. As a result, there's a bizarre repetitiveness to "color tips and tricks" that these expert color designer types can recite but aren't able to substantiate or explain. "Color tips and tricks" like dark colors shrink a room are a dime a dozen and usually emptier than a bottle of Jack under a drunk. Real color truths, authentic, individual color truths can be expressed and termed as "tolerances". And that's what we need to work thru and examine for your space. The room is generously sized. Does anyone really believe two gallons of red paint can "shrink" the volume of a 14 1/2 ft. X 20 ft space? If so, then I have some magic beans priced to sell. When it comes to strong color and dark color it really is a matter of individual tolerance. The walls of a three dimensional space with strong and/or dark color could be described by some people as closing in and overwhelming the space. But does that really translate to "dark wall colors WILL make a room feel smaller" and conversely "light wall colors WILL make a room feel bigger"? I don't think it does. It simply describes an individual perception and response to strong, dark wall colors. And that's what you have to determine. What do you feel your response will be to strong, dark color on the walls of your 14 1/2 ft x 20 ft room? Maybe your answer isn't that you'll feel overwhelmed and closed in by red walls. Maybe for you it will define your space so it feels cozy, homey, finished, sophisticated, complete.
    ...See More

    jillandmatt - can I ask you a question (or two)

    Q

    Comments (10)
    Yes, of course. I've gotten so much help here, I'm so glad to be able to help someone else for a change! :) I have to get ready for work soon and will have to look up the knobs info tonight, but I can answer everything else: We have The Tile Shop in our town, but they have a web site. I think it's tileshop.com. I'm bet you can order the grout over the web. I can find out the brand later today if that will help, but I think they probably only carry one brand. It lightened very slightly, but I love it now!! Thank goodness!! I would not want it any lighter. The granite is Giallo Oramental aka "New" Venetian Gold. It does not really have gold in it, like regular Venetian Gold. It is more brown, gray and white. It was one of the "stock" granites where we bought it. I had looked at Bianco Antico, which I love, but it was much more expensive. I love all the colors in the NVG and am so glad we went with it. The wall are Relaxed Khaki from Sherwin Williams. I've got to get to work now, but let me know if you have any other questions! Hope that helps! Jill
    ...See More

    SparklingWater... can I ask you a question?

    Q

    Comments (2)
    Hi Lake_Girl. We have used Benjamin Moore Classic White Dove Semigloss for all our trim for years. It's a lot of trim. It is a warm tone white, not gray nor yellow and not bright white. But it is clearly white, not cream. Just stepped down some from a bright white. We have it on two built in carved triangular dining cupboards as well as fireplace and built in bookcases. It continues well throughout the house without noticeable change from white with natural light color changes. Hope this helps. I just bought a gallon of it to start my trim again. It's been ten or twelve years which means it stood up to me washing finger prints and scuff marks off all these years from the kids etc. It's a great Benjamin Moore white.
    ...See More

    jillandmatt, can I ask you an island pendant question?

    Q

    Comments (5)
    j-yk, I totally understand how you feel. I had a hard time figuring out the right size lights over our island and had to return two sets before I ended up with the ones I have. Hang in there! You will find the right ones! I just explained your question to my sister-in-law who is here visiting. We got out the measuring tape and measured out your island size and height. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news but we both agree that the pendents are too big for a 52" long island :( Bummer! We also think they are to big for 8-10" of chain (for the chain/light to look proportionate)... I know that is a bummer to hear...but I'm glad you asked and I could help you figure it out. I would hate for you to order them only to have to pay to return. There is another light that is similar and a little smaller. It is from Ballard Design and is called the Carriage Light. I have the larger one in my foyer and it is really pretty. The smaller one is only 8" in diameter. It might work! I hope that helps. Let me know how it works out! Jill
    ...See More
  • brandyleigh
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Ha ha Mark! I was curious about a long distance architect. Being a stay at home mama with 4 small children does not lend itself well for frequent long distance trips to confer with the architect! How often would I need to meet with the architect?

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I am meeting with my long distance (local) client at the project site about 750 miles from my office, but tying it into a vacation for me. I live in a resort area where most of my projects are located. Most of my clients live outside the area, or state, or country. I still draw by hand, but the internet and overnight mail (two days from here actually) make it easier.

    Ideally I meet with a client for the initial meeting, schematic design phase review, design development phase review, and construction drawing phase review. Depending on the amount of changes at each meeting and the complexity of the project, there may be more than one meeting for each phase. There's a lot of variation. I did one project where I still have not met the people, but it was small. The initial meeting and the first schematic design review meetings are the most important.

  • JDS
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    It is difficult to combine old English and French traditions since the former is based on front facing gables and the latter is not. There are some exceptions on the northern coast of France especially Brittany but few elsewhere.

    You don't have to be a "purist" to want to avoid an architectural faux pas. Eclecticism is acceptable but there is a limit. Architectural history should not be a template but thousands of years of it can be a very useful guide.

    If you like the romance and charm of European country houses the best thing to do is go see them. You will find that French country houses are quire a bit plainer than American designers like to think they are but all the more charming for their simplicity.

  • Architectrunnerguy
    6 years ago

    Brandy...All the regulars have seen this numerous times (so you guys go get a cup of coffee...) but it beats me doing a big retype.

    Regarding working with an architect, in this thread scroll down to my 3/5 post where there's a bunch of other links to GW threads http://ths.gardenweb.com/discussions/3635647/first-draft-please-take-a-look-and-give-feedback?n=34 A bunch of book suggestions beyond Susanka as we'll as ways to work with an architect. And you would probably do well to read my 3/6 follow up note about working with an architect. It touches on trust, a leap of faith and preconceived ideas. Incidentially, as an update the OP here has changed course and is taking the quick idea drawing I posted further up in that thread to a local architect!!!

    And this thread might be of interest also: http://ths.gardenweb.com/discussions/3598813/we-fit-an-architect-into-our-budget-and-it-was-so-worth-it?n=17

    This is just how I work but that's not the point. The point is coming up with a house that inspires doesn't have to be a long drawn out (no pun intended!), expensive process. And the key to this process is engaging someone who is an "outside the box" thinker and creative. and I've always believed the best designers are fast on their feet. If you have a guy/girl who won't draw in front of you at all but always has to go back to the shop to design for EVERYTHING (we all do it to some degree) probably isn't that creative.

    Gotta go now. Maybe more thoughts later.

    But good luck with your build. Exciting times for sure!!

  • brandyleigh
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Thanks architectrunnerguy! That is going to be some great reading! I appreciate you taking the time to share that!

  • cpartist
    6 years ago

    cpartist, I just had a couple design classes in college. I have had the chance to exercise my 3D visualization through different classes and work experience. I have read house plan books for years :) I'm thankful that I have the time to feel my way through this process as we are looking to build in a couple years. And it has surprised me what a challenge it is to do a floorplan and do it well.

    OMG has doing a floor plan been a challenge! Every time I got something I thought I liked, it either had to change because of the zoning problems I've had, or as I've mentally walked through it, I've realized it's not quite right or I've posted here and others (especially the architects) have made good suggestions to improve the house.

    The other problem is once you get the floor plan, and the builder comes back with what it will actually cost to build, you then have to sit down and figure out what you're willing to give up. LOL.

    I like your floorplan! Did you use a program to give you a 3D rendering? That has been so helpful for me to see it in 3D and picture walking through it.

    Thank you. It works for DH and myself. We're at the "this is our final house hurrah" stage so we wanted something that mostly lived on one floor. Since we're in FL we made sure to also have an elevator, especially if I ever can't climb stairs to my studio.

    No I didn't use a 3D rendering program. However, I can close my eyes and visually walk through my house, opening doors, going into other rooms, etc.

    I'm intrigued by the balance of designing the interior and exterior simultaneously. I feel like my interior design would not match my exterior design. So that's what made me choose an exterior and work with it. I have to let go of my perfectionist tendency. Life is not perfect and neither will be my house!

    As an artist I too have perfectionist tendencies. It's why I do colored pencil still lifes so I can play with all those small details. But yes, your house may not be perfect, but it will probably wind up perfect for you and your family. Just be open to getting help from others.

    Even this last time, ARG wrote me to say that my master suite wasn't "good". He was absolutely right. He came up with what could have been an excellent solution. However because of DH's and my sleep/wake schedules it wouldn't work for us. However because of him, it spurred me to rethink my master suite so everything wasn't off one hallway. It may not have been his solution, but it's a solution that will work well for DH and me and because of being open to other ideas, I was able to come up with it. The same thing happened with how I arranged my kitchen and my laundry closet.

  • Naf_Naf
    6 years ago

    "because honestly I can't see an architect designing something I like better with the floor plan I would ideally have if I could lay it out exactly how I wanted it"


    Ha!


    We have had a few clients that came with their ideas, until we showed them the better way to accomplish what they wanted.


  • lookintomyeyes83
    6 years ago

    JDS - any design can be made better with available time/money to throw at it ;)

    Eventually there's the 'just build the damn thing' stage, lol! ;)

  • JDS
    6 years ago

    There will always be people who prefer to take a sandwich to a banquet.

  • Ron Natalie
    6 years ago

    I'm not an architect, but I've certainly employed one. My wife pretty much did the floorplans to our house and the architect executed them. He has some good suggestions and ideas of how to make everything work as well as doing the technical details.

  • brandyleigh
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Naf Naf, what do I do if I don't like the architect's design?

  • cpartist
    6 years ago

    Naf Naf, what do I do if I don't like the architect's design?

    Well first we assume you vetted the architect and have seen their work so you like what they've done in the past. Then if you don't like what the architect comes up with, you work with them to revise the design until you like it.

  • brandyleigh
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    cpartist, I know it seems like a dumb question...but what I fear is paying someone for work and ultimately coming back to the original design I loved.

  • cpartist
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    cpartist, I know it seems like a dumb question...but what I fear is paying someone for work and ultimately coming back to the original design I loved.

    Not a dumb question. However if I remember correctly (and correct me if I'm wrong) it's not that you loved the original design. It's that you loved the original exterior. The interior was not to your liking?

  • Naf_Naf
    6 years ago

    Assuming that you found a good architect, at the first meeting, you should show him your own sketch, also your inspiration picture (by the way, I saw it and is not that fabulous - if you do your homework and you read books like what not to build, or get your house right, you'd know that)

    Ask him to give you his honest opinion... and if he tells you that it can be improved (ask him how), give him a chance.

    Be honest. Let him know that if he can not come up with something better, then you prefer him to work on your own idea. You also need to talk about your budget and his fee.

    I did not read all the comments... but can we see the floor plan you created?

  • Architectrunnerguy
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I know it seems like a dumb question...but what I fear is paying someone for work and ultimately coming back to the original design I loved.

    Well then, one of two directions will be taken here......

    If you love your design so much that you feel it can't be improved upon then by all means go ahead and build it. Not a thing in the world wrong with that.

    Or, if you love your design so much but feel it (or rather you) might benefit from another set of eyes looking at it then by all means go ahead and set it in front of another set of creative (hopefully) eyes. Not a thing in the world wrong with that either.

    And if it's the latter, as I already suggested, you would do well to read my link above about leaps of faith. "Fear", or maybe a better word is "doubt", go hand in hand with leaps of faith.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    6 years ago

    If you don't like the architect's design, you tell the architect what you don't like about it. Architects like to make things perfect and each imperfection you point out is an opportunity for the architect for to improve their design.

  • Architectrunnerguy
    6 years ago

    Well said Mark. The best designs are the result of highly interactive communication. And the best designers thrive in that kind of environment....to the great benefit of the owners they're trying to help.

  • JDS
    6 years ago

    My clients can terminate the contract at any time and keep the drawings. That has happened a few times but never because of the design. If I couldn't design a better house than a stock design from the internet I would be doing something else for a living.

    You asked for advice but seem to be resisting it.

  • scone911
    6 years ago

    So am I missing something? I hate to hire someone this early on to just be disappointed with their design.

    Advice?

    Start with your budget. In fact, start with a budget, then subtract about 20%, to cover unforeseen problems and "mission creep." Remember to include costs of the land, survey, permits, impact fees, driveway, well and septic, dump fees, and landscaping.

    Until you know what you can really, truly afford (while saving for other important needs, like retirement!), you're wasting time and money no matter who designs the house.

    How can you figure out a budget if you don't have any experience with costing out labor and materials? That's not easy. Here's a very loose, ballpark starting point, at least: figure about $100 per square foot of heated space for a bare bones design with inexpensive builder grade finishes, in a low cost of living area, and possibly doing some work yourself. Maybe $150 per square foot for low-range hardwood, granite, better windows, better siding, etc. In a high cost of living area, with top of the line everything, you're easily getting to $200 per square foot and beyond.

    If you are really serious about building, start with the practicalities, not with an unrealistic wish list. You will be happier with a modest home you can afford, making clever use of humble materials, versus a fancy dream house that never gets built because it's too expensive.

  • brandyleigh
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    Cpartist, that is correct.
  • brandyleigh
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    I appreciate everyone's responses. I feel I should apologize for my comments about not trusting an architect! I have worked with many architects in the commercial building industry, just never in the residential area! I'm excited to work with an architect but I also want to experience this process myself and not just hand it over to be completely done by someone else. I would love to collaborate with an architect and I very much look forward to it.

    From your suggestions, I will be going back to the drawing board and designing from the interior perspective instead of designing based on the exterior. This whole process has given me a greater respect for architects!!!!

  • arialvetica
    6 years ago

    Working with our architects did NOT feel like "handing it over." :) It felt like a conversation and a collaboration, where we all brought our unique experience to the table (their expertise in architecture, my expertise in my life!)

    And it also didn't feel like they "scrapped" my original attempts--they looked at them, talked about "I see what you're trying to do here... why did you put this here... what is this space for?" By talking through my original doodles, they got a clear picture of my needs/desires in the new house. Then they took those needs/desires and solved the problems in a creative way that I would never have come up with on my own, but is beautifully simple and fits my site, my vision for the exterior, and the way I want the spaces to feel when I'm sitting inside them.

    Doodling now is not a waste of time, but consider your drawings "brainstorming" and "thinking through my needs/wants."

  • cpartist
    6 years ago

    Arialvetica, your threads on what you started with and what you have now would be a great inspiration to those who are waffling on the idea of using an architect. Would you be willing to put together a thread with the links sort of like I did with all my links to all my threads? I know I would love to see again the start and where you are now too.

  • madpebs87
    6 years ago

    how do we PM people, Lookintomyeyes has offered her
    spreadsheets and design and i'd love to see peoples processes, I'm about three
    years out from our final home and am becoming terrified, I too thought if i can
    find the great Low Country Exterior elevations which needs to be > 13feet
    high, i could work on the flow and layout of interior, PRIOR to getting involved
    with an architect... Maybe its off to see the pro's...

  • JDS
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    You can message someone by clicking on their name but they must turn on the message feature. That will be evident on their page .

    These houses are also known as Tide Water South (SC) and Raised Cottage (LA).

  • Architectrunnerguy
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    This will likely go over some folks heads but to help you along, here's some suggestions that you might find helpful to have the best relationship with your architect...

    -The ideal client will not care about a completion date.

    -The ideal client should have a highly refined palate, insist on the finest appliances, and not cook.

    -The ideal client will have the house "show ready" at all times for unannounced visits by the Architect with the media.

    -The ideal client will wear dark clothes, stand at the edge of the room, looking out the windows, considering the Architecture, pensively. They will appear “blurred” in all photographs, as if moving, and dynamic.

    -The ideal client will have a ferret as a pet, non shedding of course.

    -The ideal client will prefer to stand, and be able to do so for long periods of time, without fatigue. There will be no furniture.

    -The ideal client should be tall, fit, and willing to shower on axis with whatever the Architect deems important.

    -The ideal client should value simplicity, and be willing to pay extra to acquire it.

    -The ideal client should work with the Architect, but know when to sit down and remain quiet.

    -The ideal client will understand the Architectural awards schedule, and modify the move-in date as required.

    -The ideal client will not “hire” an Architect, they will “request” an audience.

    -The ideal client will understand the difference between integral color concrete and stained concrete, and they will have a preference.

    -The ideal client will know that the words “minimal”, “modern”, and “contemporary” are not interchangeable, nor mutually exclusive.

    -The ideal client will speak only when spoken to, and they will have an exotic accent.

    -The ideal client will be able to prioritize the project requirements, and understand when the Architect rearranges these priorities.

    Excerpted from Jody Brown, a practicing architect in North Carolina.

    (and for the folks I referred to in my intro, it's tongue in cheek although I do kinda like the "audience" idea.....)

  • scone911
    6 years ago

    ^ lolz. "Bow your head with great respect" - Tom Lehrer

  • mushcreek
    6 years ago

    .... I guess having unlimited funds is a given...

  • cpartist
    6 years ago

    And if you're the client don't forget to supplicate yourself before the ARCHITECT.

  • JDS
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    "... I also want to experience this process myself and not just hand it over to be completely done by someone else."

    What troubles me is that by selecting the Elberton Way design you have already handed the design over to someone else.

    Design should be the result of a collaborative process rather than an assemblage of other people's designs that appeal to you. A successful design process with a good architect should leave you with the feeling that you designed your own house.

    That has always been the case with my clients even the ones I had to persuade to let go of some of their ideas. Those ideas were quickly forgotten when the design started to come together. That's the time when a client discovers the power of collaboration.

    Just this week I got an email response that said simply "We love it" but my all time favorite was "Lets build it".

  • artemis_ma
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I actually LOVED my first design, put together by an architect with strong sensibilities. But the cost for the build was higher than I wanted, and he and the builder he helped line up (who demonstrated good homes with good bones, as well) - well this all was a bit out of my price portfolio. I'm sorry, and regret this on some levels, but not on enough considering my current build.

    I am doing a log kit, which I modified from the log kit company suggestion (square footage about the same as the previous design, as well as in both cases a walk out basement). The kitchen is drastically modified from the kit (I seriously LOATHE full open-plan kitchens! -- I want not to see all that kitchen stuff when I walk in the front door, and I love upper cabs since I'm six foot tall, and I'm glad to have the space on the back wall for artwork that visitors can see immediately when they enter my home! Seriously nicer than looking at all the kitchen doo-dads!!!

    The other main modification I made, was eliminating the garage breezeway to the house proper, because, although this is on a lot of property, I DO LIKE the wooded area that would have been plowed down to make that possible.

  • mojomom
    6 years ago

    With the right Architect, it should be a collaborative process. You certainly don't hand it over and expect a finished product without your input. It's a process of blending ideas.

    Like the OP, I've drawn plans for fun and dreaming over the years. Once we found our lot, I drew to the lot, revised and changed until I knew what I wanted in terms of flow and spaces, but was less sure about how it would work with the exterior and, honestly I was more flexible on the exterior -- I liked the HOA design guidelines. Then we found our architect. On advice from this forum (which isn't always right for all circumstances -- there is no "one" way to go about it), I didn't show him my scketches until it seemed that we weren't getting our thoughts across accurately and my husband insisted. Sometimes a picture is worth a 1000 words, and the architect instantly got us and our concept. From there he ran with it, changed a few things up, explained why certain things wouldn't work, and came up with a plan that in essence still was my plan, just vastly improved. Then multiple meetings on tweaks and pushes and pulls getting it to where we all were satisfied. The next step was elevations, something we both had kept in mind, and that step, of course, involved a few relatively minor changes to the floor plan. Nothing is ever without hiccups and disagreements, but the process has been delightfully collaborative and fun! But I suspect it is different for every one.


    Below is a truncated version of the progression of main floors only -- there were many interim versions. However, I think you can see that my amateur I initial plan is still very evident -- just vastly improved. Note that this is a duplex (though far from what most people think of as a duplex) and certain regulations and code issues related to duplexes drove some of the revisions (and any interior door connecting the two units must be 20 minute fire rated). Our side is side B, Our daughter and her husband have side A. We will only have a guest suite upstairs and the kids wil have their master suite and another bedroom/bath upstairs and their laundrey is up. Both sides have for now unfinished basements.


    My amateur initial plan


    Architect's preliminary plan


    Current Plan

    Front elevation



    Rear elevation

  • brandyleigh
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    JDS

    What troubles me is that by selecting the Elberton Way design you have already handed the design over to someone else.

    With my background, I don't trust myself designing the exterior. I'm more of a linear thinker, but I"m working on it! There are so many facets to house design that I don't have any earthly idea about. I'm a work in progress here. I'm big in the philosophy of "If you're not an expert and don't want to learn it, hire an expert!" But there are so many aspects of house design I do want to learn. But I do not want to learn it on our home without assistance. There aren't many house facades I would want for our home so when I found the Elberton Way and loved it, I stuck with it.


  • brandyleigh
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    mojomom, that is great! I think your scenario is exactly what I want. Good collaboration. Houses are a passion of mine, though I should really say "homes". Being a stay at home, homeschooling mama, having a good home is essential to me.

  • just_janni
    6 years ago

    brandyleigh- I think that you have a fabulous opportunity to use an architect and learn from someone who has the training. With your thirst for knowledge and your existing education - you will be able to easily collaborate and be VERY involved in your home design - in fact, you will be almost apprenticing while designing your own house with an expert!

    The fact is you learn by doing. You are trying to do both at the same time on a huge investment by designing your own home. Without the guidance of an expert, who has had YEARS of formal training on scale / relationships / siting a home / art / and all the other things that contribute to a home's "IT factor" - you are taking a huge risk.

    A lot of law is logic, but if I were on trial, I'd want an attorney who has PRACTICED for a long time and has a good track record with my type of case. Sure - I could represent myself - and maybe I would for a simple traffic infraction - but not if I was getting sued for big bucks.

  • cpartist
    6 years ago

    With my background, I don't trust myself designing the exterior. I'm more of a linear thinker, but I"m working on it!

    And that is the main difference between yourself and a GOOD architect. A good architect will not necessarily think in a linear path during the design phase. The artist in them is what helps them to think outside the box and come up with something that you, as a linear thinker would never even imagine.

    And I'm not sure how much can be learned. I teach colored pencil workshops and find there are two types of students in my workshops.

    1. Are the linear thinkers. These are the mathematicians, the musicians, the engineers, the person who says 1+2=3. They are the types who learn best when it's all spelled out for them. I have to give them step by step lessons spelling it out as much as possible. And yes, they can learn to create beautiful art, but I think for them it's harder because they tend to get bogged down in the details of making art.

    2. Are the "free thinkers". The dreamers. Give them 1+2 and they'll come up with 4 other solutions; none of which is 3. These are the people who will look at my instructional drawings, and maybe read through it once, and then go and do their own thing. Most times what they come up with is more original and interesting than the lesson.

    I find I can't force a linear thinker to become a free thinker, or visa versa. However, put both together and they can create some amazing things together.

    That There are so many facets to house design that I don't have any earthly idea about. I'm a work in progress here. I'm big in the philosophy of "If you're not an expert and don't want to learn it, hire an expert!" But there are so many aspects of house design I do want to learn.

    And take the time to learn before you hire an architect because the truth is, you'll be a more informed client. A more informed client is actually easier to work with.

    But I do not want to learn it on our home without assistance.

    You're talking about a 6 figure house so I don't blame you there!

    There aren't many house facades I would want for our home so when I found the Elberton Way and loved it, I stuck with it.

    And again maybe a good architect would be able to pull out what you love about the Elberton Way and actually create something new that you love even more because it works better and relates to your house and your life.

  • Architectrunnerguy
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Brandyleigh- If in fact your process with the architect is highly collaborative and you're working with someone creative and fast on their feet there's nearly a 100% chance of the process generating a house design that address all of your needs, both the functional and the aethetic ones.

    Don't know if you looked at the links above but here's another one that shows what a highly collaborative process can be like (my second photo heavy post here): http://ths.gardenweb.com/discussions/3178541/question-for-architectrunnerguy-or-others?n=24

    And here's another house just designed that way (not hyping myself either as I only work face to face):

    Clients floor plan sketches:


    And one of their inspiration photos (Like you, their floor plans bore no relation what-so-ever to the inspiration photos:

    Our 5 hour design charrette:
    Some final charrette drawings:



    And the fine tuned up fully developed design (I did this on my own but look!!, it's not much different than the charrette drawings!!):

    Design Note: I know, I know, and agree the "tower" part is a little over the top and tried valiantly to ax the thing (I usually put a live grenade on the table and threaten to pull the pin when a client is immovable but they called my bluff here)!! I did prevail on getting rid of the interior waterfall in the foyer however!

    These folks have a mobile collection and that's where one is going. But other than that I'm pretty happy with it, especially never having done a "Spanish" or "Mediterranean" style house before.

    But that's how a collaborative process works and if the client is heavily involved, there's a less than minimal chance of the whole thing going over a cliff.

  • Oaktown
    6 years ago

    I know lots of mathematicians and musicians who definitely are not linear thinkers :-)

    There is often quite a lot to be gained from the views of folks who "think differently."

  • cpartist
    6 years ago

    I know lots of mathematicians and musicians who definitely are not linear thinkers :-)

    There are definitely exceptions to everything.

    Steve Jobs for example.

    And in fact after thinking about it, a good architect really needs to be both; a linear thinker when it comes to the structure of the building, and a free thinker when designing the building.

    There is often quite a lot to be gained from the views of folks who "think differently."

    Wasn't that an Apple ad campaign? :)

    And I'm definitely a #2. I barely made it out of 9th grade Algebra. And even though I can visualize in 3D, I wound up dropping Geometry because of those dang line segments and rays.

  • Oaktown
    6 years ago

    brandyleigh, I wish you the best of luck! I had a wonderful experience with our architect and learned a lot. Looking back my primary job was to figure out what was most important to us, and the architect was able to translate that into something that we loved. We worked from the outside in (site plan to specifics) and also from the inside out (flow and family needs to shape the space). We had an afternoon charrette during which we knocked out 90% of the main design. A process similar to what architectrunnerguy describes definitely worked for us (and was fun and rewarding).

    cpartist, I am sorry to hear that as I love math (as abstract ideas; I don't have patience for computation -- said another way, it gets more interesting!). If you find yourself on a long plane flight or otherwise bored you might consider exploring a bit more. Lists some ideas My first-grader recently was complaining about his math homework, his teacher said it was ok for him to work on this instead :-) Activity book

  • cpartist
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    LOL Oaktown. I've learned in the many years since school, that math is a huge part of art and had even made mention of things such as the Fibonacci sequence as related to art. Amazing how perspectives change.

    Great links. Thanks.

  • brandyleigh
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    architectrunnerguy...that's great to see! Thank you for sharing!

  • brandyleigh
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    oaktown and cpartist...was just reading about Leonardo da Vinci to my 1st grader and how he was a math enthusiast. I love the integration of math and art!!!

  • JDS
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Before da Vinci there was Filippo Brunelleschi who started it all. IMO there is no greater architect.

  • arokitka
    6 years ago

    While I can say I recommend hiring an architect, I realize that doing so may not be feasible for your pocketbook. We spoke to a couple of architects, and even toured some in-progress homes with one of them. The amount of design considerations they make is almost overwhelming - where living space is in relation to views, where/when sunlight will enter the house, noise mitigation, traffic flow, how spaces will be utilized, etc. It was interesting to see how different their process was from just picking out a plan and running with it.

    We purchased our land two years ago - a 2 acre lot with 125' of frontage and great soil. My wife and I then looked at when seemed to be EVERY SINGLE PLAN on the internet. We had bookmarked hundreds of them, and subsequently threw each one out based on them either not conforming to our lifestyle or not being a good fit for our lot. In the meantime, I started to lay out floor plans in Sketchup, which was all well and good until I had to add a second floor. W. T. F. It was incredibly frustrating.

    After a year of self-design, we engaged a local custom builder with a great reputation. We collaboratively designed a plan that my wife and I are extremely happy with. While we had set out to design a craftsman type home, our final design would definitely not fall under that category. We have a lot of craftsman-influenced details throughout the design, but in the end, neither of us cared at all whether it fit into some architectural category. Most people don't, so don't get hung up on that - especially if the architectural style doesn't fit your lifestyle.

    I also learned a lot about design considerations from reading these forums. There's a lot of good advice here. There's also a lot of very headstrong personalities here as well, so be mindful of that. It's very easy to let yourself be convinced that someone else's opinion is the standard. For instance, laminate flooring seems go get a lot of negative attention around here, but I have three young boys and a dog. Laminate fits our lifestyle a heck of a lot better than hardwood and it's inexpensive enough to change out as our lifestyle changes.

    My advice to you is to at least talk to an architect before going to a builder. Listen to how they designed their houses. It's truly eye-opening. It will make you swear off pre-fab plans forever. If you feel comfortable enough with one of them to hire, then go for it. Otherwise, take that knowledge and speak to some custom builders in your area and see how they work with you and don't be pressured to sign anything!

    Good luck!

  • JDS
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    The dome was completed before da Vinci was born but perhaps the hoisting machines were still in use 3 decades later.

  • JDS
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Brunelleschi died in 1446, da Vinci was born in 1452, and the lantern was completed in 1461.