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Special Report 21: Architect interviews - Electronic Edition

Special Report 21: Architect interviews - Electronic Edition
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Author: Mark A. Smith
[This is the Special Report 21 in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. Our electronic products download immediately to your computer upon purchase.]

Even if you don't use an architect, gain the advantage of their advice to owner-builders and their experience on home design. One or two of them provide a flash of genius that reminds us why owner-building is the creative act of a lifetime. Eight pages, revised and updated with new reader tips, web links and comments.

Topics include:

  • What architects expect from clients
  • Costs and fee schedules
  • When to get architect involved
  • Architectural software
  • How to find a good architect
  • Architect vs. Designer
  • How good design can save money
  • Internet plans
  • Architect attitudes about owner-builders

Excerpt from Report:

"...Q. What do you want the clients to have when they come in?

A: Their needs in writing, nothing drawn, no pictures out of magazines. Verbal scope, their living style. Pictures tend to give you preconceived ideas.

A: Clear ideas of what they want. Ideally a program would be helpful, but most depend on us to write the program based on their needs.

A: Lots of money and stable marital relationship. I contract with both of them in case they divorce. Some idea of style of house, and technical information like a survey of the site. We custom tailor to take advantage of the natural beauty of the site.

A: Sometimes they have a sketch. Others just want a house designed, and I interview and start with a written program. What they want the house and space to do. How they want to use it. That becomes a drawing, a preliminary drawing. Add details until the final preliminary drawing. Then into the construction documents, the details for construction. On a larger house we might start with special equipment or finishes, or treatments, then we do a written specification. Then the construction drawings.

A: Any type of photos or tear sheets of things they like, even clothing, styles, colors, things they visually like. Bring in several things.

That helps me understand what they like to be around. Any other professional documentation of the property, plot maps, surveyor maps, history, old blueprints if a remodel, technical drawings. Write down some things that they might want to bring out for needs and desires for their living space.

A: Idea of how big a house they want, though they usually don't know. The rooms and room sizes they want, and a budget. I can determine the size of the house. Know what quality you want, builders type - spec type or custom with high end finishes. I can figure out how much per square foot, and then figure the right size. Lot size and orientation, the specifics of the property. I like to customize it for the property. Relation to neighbors, views, etc..."

Sample Reader Tip Excerpts:

"We went through hundreds of designs to find something that we liked. I tried to cut and paste, but it had to be redrawn to get the engineer's seal. I think next time I would get an architect involved in the early stages."
Jean & Bill H.
Lansdale, PA

"Some of the other books out there wind up telling you to go see a contractor after you've got your plans. That's ironic, because using an architect or a contractor are the two biggest things that add to your cost."
Ron D.
Cortland, NY

"The architect designed the house for $160,000 and the first bid from a contractor came in for $190,000. The architect said he'd help line me up with subs."
Richard S.
Racine, WI...

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