edubya

Your biggest challenge in your architectural practice?

Emily H
June 9, 2014
last modified: June 9, 2014
As you work in your industry and deal with changing trends, clients and other professionals, what would you say is your biggest challenge as an architect or building designer?

Share your experience! (photos encouraged)

Harrison Design · More Info

Comments (64)

  • PRO
    Beckwith Group
    The biggest challenge is convincing clients to chose quality over quantity. Many budgets I work with dictate that the size that the Owner wants be scaled back a bit so money be spent on trim, built-ins, quality finishes, etc. that give the house the richness and quality that says "home".
    Emily H thanked Beckwith Group
  • PRO
    SunSwallow Design, LLC
    I must admit my biggest challenge is simply getting clients! Which is a primary reason I have subscribed to Houzz. I have realized a slight uptick in exposure since joining Houzz but I still suffer from a lack of quantity/quality of clients/projects.
    Emily H thanked SunSwallow Design, LLC
  • Related Discussions

    What is your biggest design challenge right now?

    Q

    Comments (11)
    Figuring out just exactly how to re-design the Pond we just drained. We are extending the Patio at the house, but using existing large pavers. There are 5 or 6 tree trunks around the Pond from mostly dead trees. Most of those are coming out and we are going to move the giant boulders. I am thinking of building a retaining wall on the pool side of the Pond so the Walking area above the Pond is wider rather than having the steep slope. We want a water Feature, but with the slope on the side we would see and it being lower than the side we would sit on, a waterfall is out of the question. I Need to get my plan together. We are renting a digger in 2 weeks.
    ...See More

    What's your biggest family room / living room gripe?

    Q

    Comments (135)
    I used to feel like Elizabeth Sutor that tv's should be concealed. They are not design pieces. However, they are so big today you'd need a family room the size of a stadium to conceal them. Plus ours is curved; no way we are hiding that. But it is not above the fireplace, where I think the home's builder meant it to be. To my design sensibilities that is the real no no. I mean unless you have no other option. I certainly didn't want a huge curved tv to be the focal point of my family room. THE BEAUTIFUL MIRROR OVER THE FIREPLACE IS!!!. Along with the the view. The tv is on a lovely piece of furniture perfectly set between two windows. The two things I would change; a real wood fireplace and more windows. You can never have too many windows. I'm even thinking of adding a couple.
    ...See More

    What is the biggest challenge you are facing in your home renovation.

    Q

    Comments (0)
    What are some of the biggest challenges you faced or are facing in your home renovation? Vote here and share in the comments!
    ...See More

    Recently sold a house? What's your biggest lesson?

    Q

    Comments (37)
    A seller's perspective on the listing negotiation process: (1) in the listing agreement, everything is negotiable. (1a) the agreement (contract) will have 2 commissions that you as a seller will have to pay - the listing agent's commission and the selling (buyers) agent commission. I used Redfin as my listing agent; they charge a 1% commission. There is no reason you have to bow to a realtor's "standard" commission (I get pitched 3%/3% buy/sell all the time). The internet does most of the marketing, and in a hot market, the listing agent doesn't have to work hard "selling". So, be prepared to negotiate hard on that issue. You can ask for the listing agent to pay for 30 days of staging instead of going for a commission reduction... It's up to you. All negotiable. (New disrupter in the market here in Seattle is FAIRA.com... read their terms - interesting!) (1b) Then, in that listing agreement, you also specify what you are willing to pay the buyer's broker in commission. 3% in my market is "typical", but you can stipulate whatever you want. The risk is a low commission amount will turn off buyers agents - but these days buyers find houses, not their agent. So, for example, in my listing agreement I agreed to pay Redfin, the listing agent, 1% and the buyers broker 2-1/2%. I saved $30k in commissions from the "typical" 6% total. (1c) Don't be talked into a long listing contract. I never go over 60 days. Whatever you do, don't let them suck you into anything longer than 90 days. If they are doing a lousy job, you are stuck. If my house hadn't sold quickly, I was going to rent it. So I limited my most recent listing agreement to 45 days. It sold right away at 10% over the list price. (1d) The list price. There are strategies here depending on your market. I went in with a listing price 10% lower than I thought it would sell for. I had 3 offers, all over the ask, with the best offer about 11% over. That is something to go over with your agent. (2) Move out and stage the house. If you can't move out - get rid of most of your stuff. I can't stress this enough. HIre professional stagers - either using their furniture or arranging yours. (3) Get professional photographs. 'Nuff said.
    ...See More
  • PRO
    Robert A. McGraw Architect
    I find the biggest challenge in my practice to be steering each project in two ways. The first big challenge is working with governmental design review boards. In the town where I do most of my work there is a board composed of appointed community citizens that reviews every building project. These are usually qualified and dedicated individuals and they do the best they can answering to the neighbors as well as my clients. Often though the review process gets very contentious. My goal is always to give my clients the best possible outcome and to ensure some civility in the process so that once my clients are in their new homes, the neighborhood is glad to have them.
    The second way of steering a project that is always challenging is helping clients come to a realistic budget and then helping stick to it. Often the first budget estimate iis not terribly relalistic and it takes some work to establish an actual budget.Then most often as they get involved in a project they begin to see the possibilities and add to their programs, little by little. Keeping them realistic as they work toward their homes is simply a good practice for any architect but we all know it can be hiar-raising at times. It is a matter of good communication, good communication and then more communication.
    Emily H thanked Robert A. McGraw Architect
  • PRO
    Robert A. McGraw Architect
    One of our projects here in Laguna Beach.
    Emily H thanked Robert A. McGraw Architect
  • PRO
    Sundance Design
    getting the word out is my biggest challenge. Houzz could really help me do that.
    Emily H thanked Sundance Design
  • PRO
    Type Three Homes
    The single biggest problem that we face is clients seeing the value of a well designed project. Creativity, knowledge and innovation are priceless. Far too often we see people bring in printed off PDF's of "online plans" and just want to put their own spin on them. The second major problem would be people's view of what a budget should be and what a budget is in real life. Too many folks listening to uncle Bill on what his buddy up the road built this and that for. just our 2 cents.
    Emily H thanked Type Three Homes
  • PRO
    HOMEWARDesign
    Uncovering all of their needs and wants upfront.
    Emily H thanked HOMEWARDesign
  • PRO
    Sollievo, Architecture & Design
    Getting quality clients is challenge number one. Of course as one is starting out on one's own the trust factor is magnified even though the years of experience and the quality of work are there.
    Of course getting the clients to understand the value of the work challenge is number two and I see the need for thorough client education. Definitely worth every second spent.
    Emily H thanked Sollievo, Architecture & Design
  • PRO
    Stellar Gray Fine Homes
    James Gray clients normally arrive convinced they want the design advertised by our completed work, however, as we move along the design/build process there is a tendency for a few clients to bring their own design propensities into the mix leading them away from the reason they came to me in the first place. They may miss the magic that attracted them and calm down the design to something more familiar and less outrageous. It is all good, but my wish is to introduce them to something that will inspire them and others to expand and find sanctuary.
    Emily H thanked Stellar Gray Fine Homes
  • PRO
    Elite Designs Unlimited
    I Feel the biggest thing holding back the Business these days , is Finance There are only so many people who can get good loans by in large people are scared I am a one man operation I have 5 new projects hanging, I am a Complete Home designer I have done over 300 Homes ,I can draw by hand & with CADD, I believe the market for whole home remodels are so close .. but oh so far away.. I draw in Southern Oregon & the Pismo Beach Area, I could have a booming business.. I've done big remodels,small space planning is a art form it just Rough the business has changed allot in my 28 years in the trade, and the cost keep going up, my rates Per Sq Foot or hourly is less.. My job is not a job, I like people. Everyday is a challenge the question is Can you meet that challenge? Making people happy Never get old! Does the Business have more red tape Now rather then in 1989 you Bet, Thats why someday people with my experience will be in great demand, it has been harder to keep my business afloat then it was to start at 26 years old, at 51 my desire to learn & stay in the trade is much greater.. I wished I had a son to give my knowledge to. The Remodel market will bust open when money for new loans comes about for now its mixed. I also think the internet is a haven for dishonest people,selling things like Ads.Things were better when you just bought one time ads in phone books,web ads cost more and change .. my web site is elite designs unlimited.biz
    Emily H thanked Elite Designs Unlimited
  • PRO
    Curtis L Biggar Architect/CGP
    Most architects can not do a heat loss calculation or cost benefit analysis. That is lot to ask but its a new century. Most architects can not invent. Most architects can not do gold level green with out weird cost assumptions. Read NAHB National Green Building Standard ( Not LEED) Builders don't even get it. Most architects can not hand draw etc. etc. etc. I still love you all. Architects are the poets of the built environment & the great sleeping talent of america
    Emily H thanked Curtis L Biggar Architect/CGP
  • PRO
    Curtis L Biggar Architect/CGP
    Thank you Emily. I have a dynamite grand daughter Emily. Piano/track/4.0 plus sweet. Should become an architect
  • PRO
    James E. Manning Architect
    After 44 years of doing large commercial projects, I decided to follow my passion to design only contemporary architecture. I started my one man firm 5 years ago (really bad timing) and in order to have work, 2 1/2 years ago I decided to be my own client and build spec houses.

    I concur with many of the comments from the other architects. It's been sucessful, frustrating and rewarding. I do quality work, that I think is very good architecture. I can't get to cutting edge for the general public. The biggest problem is getting my name out there. It's happening, but it's a very slow process.
    Emily H thanked James E. Manning Architect
  • PRO
    Curtis L Biggar Architect/CGP
    Go for it. James My email is octoman80@mac.com. I chose this because I intend to know what I am doing by that time in my life. I have great joy in spite of the fact that architecture in the private sector has less respect than at any time in our history. Thank the AIA & those architects who have no courage but feel great 'belonging" instead of creating
  • PRO
    Don Duffy Architecture
    Managing out time against the cost of professional rates. Our work boils down to hitting our cost multipliers or coming close.
    Making sure our clients know what is embodied in the drawings. We do not like full scale working models.
    Competing against Architects working from home, with very little overhead, or worse designers who the general public think provide the same level product embodied in the architects work product. So we do not compete.
    Managing the business side of the practice, (stressing business side) I do not have too, I have great office manager who is pure overhead but leverages the architects to focus on the work.
    Figuring out what to not focus on when fees are tight and clients choose to cut services. Call it tapas service. Come back for more as the budget permits or hunger pains dictate.There is great need for solid early planning. Good form will go a long way if we are not allowed to finish our work.
    Should the architect's practice be all or nothing to a client?
    Emily H thanked Don Duffy Architecture
  • PRO
    Elite Designs Unlimited
    I think the AIA is a private Club, The Field of Architecture is a tough business I grew up in san luis obispo,area I had no money for college.. I went to tech school.. There should be a way to obtain a license.. I finally said the hell with it & got a Contractors license #935489 This man who started his Business in the last 5 years , You my friend Have got the Stuff MAN! .. We need to make a Poster of you , Way to go.. By the way I did energy Calc's when it was 2 pages!!! 1 St generation.. I cheer for anyone in the business its not a easy Road!
    Emily H thanked Elite Designs Unlimited
  • PRO
    CJ Architects, Inc.
    The biggest challenge I seem to face is explaining to a client or contractor why something won't "work". Whether it be a design detail or an overall restriction brought about by a zoning or code requirement (more often the latter) I just find it so difficult and uncomfortable to start the conversation, and then struggle through the explanation in laymen's terms. I do try to bring a solution so it's not just presenting a problem every time, but in some cases there needs to be a dialogue to get a feel for alternate preferences, so it just has to happen sometimes and I dislike it.

    The worst time to be faced with this challenge is when a neighbor has done something at their property either illegally or through variance and I have no good answer to the inevitable question, "But why were they able to do it?" Somehow, "Because some people choose to lower their standards and I'm not putting my professional reputation and licensure on the line to appease your unattainable project goal" seems inappropriate...
    Emily H thanked CJ Architects, Inc.
  • PRO
    Narita Architects
    I see the biggest challenge for firms in custom residential architecture being that design values architects add to projects aren't readily quantifiable in a way that can be marketed properly in real estate transactions. Clients will often make design decisions based on anticipated appraised value in terms of cost/sf and will go for bigger banal spaces vs smaller well designed spaces. It's not always easy to justify the custom detail, the showcase feature piece to clients during the design phase and especially to those who are looking for a quick return on investment in a few years time. I personally really like designing homes with just right square footage that has all the amenities, finishes, and design details that was high on the wish list during schematic design. Perhaps the architecture and real estate community can come together to find a suitable way to quantify design value/sf over cost/sf for real estate listings and sales.
    Emily H thanked Narita Architects
  • PRO
    STYROframe - Energy Efficient Building Envelopes
    First a big thanks to Emily Hurley for posting this topic.

    A heads-up to all posting here, money comes when you offer a solution that's in demand.

    My problem today and I'm sure it will be for some time is finding practitioners who are versed in the design and solutions of homes that are "Super Energy Efficient."

    Leed Badges don't cut the grades necessary for real solutions. So Far we have Passive House showing promise, also Net Zero Energy Plus very strong but understanding how to deliver the goods today, this is the opportunity.
    Emily H thanked STYROframe - Energy Efficient Building Envelopes
  • PRO
    Curtis L Biggar Architect/CGP
    The NAHB is not a friend of architects, but their members control the bilk of home building.
    They offer free plan service thru their material supplier in many cases, that meets code & in many cases results in comparatively attractive homes. The problem is their lack of a comprehensive understanding of nature of building, materials, & performance. They are mostly brokers who subcontract everything and become the authority of taste. They don't understand their own National Green Building Standard. If architects would all use a spread sheet along with the design process it would shaow that a fee of around 7% architectural fees & another 7% C/M would total up to the same cost.SF the builders charge. They create buddy systems & are indebted to their suppliers thereby causing a cost that we can compete with. The big problem is in the reaction of most homebiuyers who cannot accept $30,000 in fees even thought they are paying anyway . We are not a full disclosure society & many of us do not understand the gold @ 50% off is really retail. I comes down to the lack of respect for professionals ( we are the ultimate professionals ) who are not paid by a third party provider. The AIA could work on this problem if they were not so inbred.
    Emily H thanked Curtis L Biggar Architect/CGP
  • PRO
    Axios Architecture LLC/Steve Robinson
    Residential architecture is full of challenges, and no single challenge rises to the top. Currently I am greatly challenged with getting clients to see the opportunities that design offers them. Even in smaller projects, there are often great possibilities for design improving quality of life, but it is a challenge for clients to see beyond the constraints of budgets, appraisals, financing, resale considerations, simple function, what Home Depot has in stock today and how the other homes on the street are designed. Not that these are not essential, but they can cloud thinking and obscure a much better solution. My great wish is that clients see design as a privilege to make their own world and not a formula that only meets the constraints!
    Emily H thanked Axios Architecture LLC/Steve Robinson
  • PRO
    Ashli Slawter Architecture
    To everyone that has added to the conversation...great projects!...and great thoughts. What a talented bunch! I have had a lot of success communicating and working with my clients as a team. I ask and want them to be very involved with open lines of communication. I am casual but organized which helps my clients relax and enjoy the process. The biggest challenge I face is good fees. Changing from an hourly rate to a flat fee has been helpful and I am slowly inching up my flat fees. What hurts me the most are the unlicensed drafters / designers insinuating they have the abilities of an architect. I will say that if people meet the others and then me, I typically can close the deal. The biggest question might be, how can we as architects communicate to local municipalities the importance of an architect in residential design? Think about all of the things we bring to the table beyond good design. I worked in Connecticut several years ago in an area where an architect's seal was required on all drawings....just imagine what this did for architects in the area.
    Emily H thanked Ashli Slawter Architecture
  • PRO
    Ashli Slawter Architecture
    One more thing.... I want to thank everyone working / developing / supporting HOUZZ. In the last year I have gleaned several clients who found me on houzz and I just hired a young architect that contacted me because of my profile. Houzz is an amazing tool for all of us!
    Emily H thanked Ashli Slawter Architecture
  • PRO
    Van Cleave Architecture + Design
    Yes, I agree with A. Slawter. Houzz is the Number #1 tool in educating clients today. It is accessible to anyone with a computer and gives informal access to professionals at levels never seen before. It visually highlights the benefits and possibilities of design and promotes the design community at unbelievable levels. I am a Houzz fan!
    Emily H thanked Van Cleave Architecture + Design
  • PRO
    Abrams Design Build
    my greatest challenge is helping the Owners to sort out their priorities, and to connect them with their values and needs.

    often what will provide people with a healthy and nurturing environment is not huge spaces and shiny features--rather, it is space that provides a sense of shelter and intimacy, and--most importantly--a connection to nature.

    part of this challenge is educating the Owners, to help them understand that how something is built is as important as the space and features it includes. It is about demonstrating that--given a limited budget--it is better to build modestly--but with the highest quality--rather than to build as much they can, as cheaply as possible.

    [photos by Ken Wyner]
    Emily H thanked Abrams Design Build
  • PRO
    Designs by Artisans LLC
    The quandary continues , how do we find good clients . Clients that appreciate architecture and are sober enough to know their financial limitations when embarking on a project. Most clients that I have dealt with over 35 years of work have limited understanding of what construction costs or they don't want to . Why ; because they want what they want and will find some poor sole "contractor " to do it at what they think its worth.
    Why do most architects just limit their practice to design and the preparation of building documents ? In many cases , they don't have to be accountable for the clients cost expectations and or the art of building. What happen in the mid 1800 hundreds was no accident, the practice of using a Master Builder was eliminated and the practice of hiring an Architect then a builder became the norm. Now we have two professions wearing two hats working for a single client who wants what he or she wants. The problems that this has created are enormous , no wonder the general public is so skeptical about our industry. If your a great designer the word will get around ; if your a great builder the word will get around; but the industry must make the playing field equitable for everyone involved in this creative process. If you are in a State that doesn't require a contractor to take an exam and have a level of expertise , then I encourage all of us; Architects ,Designers, Builders to petition our Sate Representatives.
    This will help bring about a better environment for us all to work in and the client will then have two professions to trust on their project.
    Emily H thanked Designs by Artisans LLC
  • PRO
    Duxborough Designs
    Duxborough Designs

    I have worked on 1710 capes with 6'3" ceilings and very skimpily built that had no business still standing except by being so darn charming that generation after generation kept them up. Then again you have a 70's ranch built of 2x4's and plywood, the strongest residential construction method ever, and people can't wait to stuff 'em in a dumpster. That tells you everything you need to know about design. An important thing to remember when designing green. If it's not a beautiful design people won't care about it the same way. Not "Green is Beautiful", but "Beautiful is Green!"
    Emily H thanked Duxborough Designs
  • PRO
    Our Town Plans
    I agree with those who have said that educating clients is the biggest challenge. This includes educating them about the value of good design and that good design costs money. The challenge is also helping them see how so much of good design is in the details that may never be seen. It may include helping them choose elements that will give them lasting satisfaction rather than utilizing current trends. It might mean educating them about the building process, and about the builders themselves and how to make reasonable budgetary expectations.
    Emily H thanked Our Town Plans
  • PRO
    Bud Dietrich, AIA
    My biggest challenge(s) as I work as an architect:

    1) It's a challenge to stop thinking that they all need to be educated by me. Maybe I should learn a little from them.

    2) It's a challenge to do good work. I've given up on doing "good design" (because I have no idea what that is anyway) and just want to somehow, in some way, make peoples' lives better and leave the world in just a little better shape than what I found it.

    3) It's a challenge to not worry about where the next client will come from. They always seem to show up just when you want them, are ready for them and need them. Just making sure I do the best in the here and now is all that's needed.

    4) It's a challenge knowing which potential clients to accept and which to turn down. The older I get, the more fun I want to have. If a potential client strikes me as a person who just complains (about time, money, quality, etc.), then I've learned to say "no thanks" with no regrets. Life is too short to and difficult without having others make it more difficult.

    5) It's a challenge to not let work get in the way of life and life get in the way of work. And as I age, finding the balance between what's important and what's not takes on new meaning. So if I can make a difference (and a few bucks in the process), great, I'll give it my all. Otherwise, you'll find me on the golf course.

    6) It's a challenge thinking up more challenges. I expect that I'll write more since I'm sure there are, as there always seems to be.
    Emily H thanked Bud Dietrich, AIA
  • PRO
    Emily H thanked Abrams Design Build
  • PRO
    Benson Design & Development Co.
    I have been designing custom homes for the Affluent in Los Angeles for 20 years now. My projects range from a 300 thousand plus remodel's to new custom homes in the millions. I deal with a very intelligent and successful clientele, yet they are idiots when they hire a professional with regards to residential design and construction. Clients rarely check on the professionals credentials. Los Angels and surrounding areas have a huge population of wealthy people who want a trophy home to show off to their piers. Remodeling or building a new home is one of the largest expenses a family will make in their lifetime. They hear all the nightmare stories of bad contractors and designers but do very little to avoid nightmares for their personal projects. People want a good deal and 9 out of 10 times they make the same decision that all the other clients with bad experiences made. They hire the cheaper person. Every project I go on, I have to educate the client, why it is cheaper in the long run, to hire quality people from the beginning. I have been very successful at logically explaining this too everyone. This is an Architects main challenge In my opinion. Every job I go on I am told I am the most expensive LOL.... I get more money because I explain in detail why highly detailed plans are so important when you are in the contractor bidding phase.

    Architects must also educate the client on how to hire contractors and consultants for their projects. The most important part of the project aside from the Architect is the Contractor. Most times the client will go for the cheaper contractor or the contractor who is a good talker. It is our job to recommend quality contractors to the client who haven proven themselves to us and will not cheat the client because the client is too lazy to check up on the contractors themselves. The worst Contractor's in los Angeles are the ones who claim they are design build. I have personally met very few who are the real deal. I find most people in our industry are very unprofessional and ruin it for the real professional's. We are always having to justify why we are better then the less expensive person.

    Clients are attracted to these qualities in this order: Confidence , knowledge, integrity

    A good Architect, designer, interior designer contractor etc.... must be knowledgeable in part with each others profession. An Architect should be knowledgeable in construction, structural engineering, code compliance, interior design and HAVE A STONG DESIGN SENSE. You cannot be at the height of your game without this knowledge. I have met very few in this industry who posses all these abilities.

    Sorry to Rant but this topic has always bothered me LOL.............
    Emily H thanked Benson Design & Development Co.
  • PRO
    VizX Design Studios, LLC
    I love the comments. Most of them are the same with getting clients to understand our value. I don't know if I would say we have a value issue more than saying we need more clients. Once we enter their homes for our consultations we teach them how important and beneficial it is to have us involved from the beginning. We explain to them that our cost is a whole lot cheaper then one change order. It's not really a hard sale if you have the right sales material.
    The way to fix this issue is educate your clients. The more you educate them the more they understand what you do and why. Almost every car company had their own version of On-Star but GM was the only company that education you on it. So we all thought GM was only company with On-Star. Do you see my point.
    As long as the builders keep giving free ideal design sketches we will have to keep educating clients. Our industry needs more sales people along with being a designer. The last survey Houzz did proved that clients wants to use us more than ever.
    Emily H thanked VizX Design Studios, LLC
  • PRO
    Caleb Johnson Studio
    Timing -

    -The sequencing of a design and construction projects to ensure the right information in time but not too much information too soon.
    -Saying yes to enough work at the right time but not overloading on work so that quality suffers in spite of the fact that work tends to come in seasonal groups.
    -Offering cautionary advice to clients on the feasibility of their dreams before they spend to much on designing what they can't afford but not too soon which will squash their enthusiasm and they will go to some one else to build a version of the original dream.



    Caleb Johnson AIA
    Emily H thanked Caleb Johnson Studio
  • PRO
    Mackin Drafting & Design
    There was a day when the architect was the top authority in any given project and the builder worked under him. Today, we find those roles reversed and we are often just a subcontractor in the job. We are given little control over the quality of the work, with the budget being the bottom line in most cases.

    Since my work is almost exclusively residential, I find that often my biggest challenge is working with couples. They each have differing opinions and have often times not talked about their project together and agreed on some compromises.........communication!
    Emily H thanked Mackin Drafting & Design
  • PRO
    FoxLin Architects
    Sykora Home Design said exactly what I would have said - getting clients to see the value of design.
    Emily H thanked FoxLin Architects
  • PRO
    Elite Designs Unlimited
    I Look around there are many talented people here.. I really like the com. above about couples in meeting talking about the goals ,and their home detailed information, the Art is in when moment comes up , How does the design professional skill at handling this is the true meaning of the word "Issues" This would most always mean one or the other in the couple would look at each other "We" talked about that , No we did not ... To which I would say looking over my glasses, "oh we can just leave that loose & we can talk about that later" and at that point I would bring up another section of the home! It would be a problem but I've seen it 100's of times, and after you tell them you have & they feel better!

    In my case it's hard to find clients with great sums of money,even in the past , they seem to never want to pay a good amount of money for plans, the more time ,and money for the planning process the better , the end result. It cost just as much if not more to build poor design, as it does Good Design.. a well thought out design can saves money. I consider myself a "Design Mechanic" I enjoy the nuts & bolts of homes, I love a good roof problem, I like small space planning..Anyone can design Huge Homes.. The best skill I think a designer needs, is to be a good listener , this save you time & your clients money.

    I also enjoy these guys on here, that are designer's and they throw around the word, Architect.. Architecture... I believe in many states You are required to post your license #, If your a Designer the Use of those words can get you in hot water.. If you a designer be one, & builder ..
    I have always Corrected people , Designers have more freedom, besides people feel more at ease too.
    I got my general license # 935489, to let people know I'm really into the business, I'm a student of the trade, but the state also recognizes my time & skill in the trade, in most states a contractors license these days are not that easy as it was once upon a time was to obtain .

    The Home is a living breathing thing we as designers hope our designs will stand the test of time.. When your time is done the best reward is "Hey that Guy or Lady was pretty good" I enjoy this site , to see the skills to be able to give people simple advise.. over common problems is a joy, I just wish I do some formal Drawings for people needing help,
    I love Curb Appeal Problems.. So Good work people .. Love the Site! JW
    Emily H thanked Elite Designs Unlimited
  • PRO
    sk7 design studios, inc.
    As my neighbor architect Roger says, "Everyone has (home owner's) a champagne taste with a beer budget."
    Emily H thanked sk7 design studios, inc.
  • PRO
    Artistic Renovations of Ohio LLC
    Clients also ask "can you do this _________" and after you give them the price to do that they say "I thought you were just going to do it for free " I then ask do they work for free at their job?
    Design and quality construction adds value and beauty to a home.
    Emily H thanked Artistic Renovations of Ohio LLC
  • PRO
    Curtis L Biggar Architect/CGP
    ARCHITECTS ARE THE POETS OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT. .LEARN SEE......LEARN TO FEEL....LEARN TO HEAR....LEARN TO SUFFER.
  • PRO
    Curtis L Biggar Architect/CGP
    MOST OF US CAN HEAR, I MEANT LEARN TO LISTEN......
  • PRO
    Rispoli & Associates
    The greatest challenge in my Architectural practice is client acquisition and getting the project. Our Firm's main business is repeated clients. Maintaining a good relationship from the start of the design process to the completion of the construction is always a challenge, as this requires patience and experience, which comes with time. The final reward is standing back and admiring the work that has been completed and the new friendships that have developed through the process, till the next project. One thing to always keep in mind is; get the job, get the job.

    Joe Rispoli, AIA
    Rispoli & Associates Architecture, Inc.
    Ocala, FL
    Emily H thanked Rispoli & Associates
  • PRO
    Select Hardwood Floor Co.
    @Benson Design & Development Co.... (earlier comment)
    Your "rant" was probably well received by many in a variety of construction related industries.
    From your lips to God's ear...
  • PRO
    Curtis L Biggar Architect/CGP
    To Rispoli: Get the job ! Sadly architects should be the first considered in any construction job. Clients would come to us if the AIA & it's members would concentrate on the improvement of their image in society. Do you see Drs.; Lawyers or CPA"s beg for work ? It's all about the money. Other professionals have third party payers, defend their wealth or use lawyers for tort gain. We are the poets of the built environment. We are among the few who have a purpose driven life.
  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes
    Hi,

    Our company is a residential design/build firm with a licensed architect on staff. The challenge we face on the design side is not unlike that on the building side: we need to offer more value for clients than competitive alternatives. Competitive alternatives on the design side (as viewed by most of our clients) range from purchasing a stock plan or worse--designing their own home with a $50 CAD program they bought at Lowe's-- to having a draftsman draw something up, to engaging a residential designer to engaging a licensed architect to develop a unique custom design.

    One impediment to communicating value added in design is that it is intangible: sure the home has better flow, better light, better curb appeal, is more sustainable, sits better on the site, etc. Tough to put a number on.

    While we're talking numbers, another impediment is that good design doesn't get reflected in a higher value at appraisal: appraisals are, for the most part, dumbed down to the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and overall square footage. So what if the home is an architectural abortion?

    Another impediment is what I call the commoditization of architects. Many consumers consider that anyone who can put lines on paper is an "architect." Since all architects have the same training and license, they view any one as good as another. The least expensive one is the "winner."

    Another impediment is clients not amortizing the value of good design over the life expectancy of the structure (it's more liveable, less costly to maintain, more energy efficient, more sustainable, etc.) or even over the period the client will occupy the home. Consider that $30K in design fees amortized over only 15 years of occupancy = around $5.50/day. Yep, the cost of good residential design amortized over 15 years is about the same per day as a mocha latte at Starbucks.

    AIA national and local chapters should be working to educate consumers about the value added in design by true design professionals. How about an HGTV show about real custom design that helps consumers understand what good design is, and why it's worth investing in? Maybe some print ads with coffee cups?
  • PRO
    Curtis L Biggar Architect/CGP
    Charles: Great letter & good observations. The answer lies in knowledge & communication. Do a spread sheet: add fees of !5% and run the entire job. The total at the bottom of the spread sheet will be about the same or less than Builder Bob the expert who tells his clients t o stay out of the process. I try to communicate with Wisonsin WSA/AIA & don't even get the courtesy of a debate. I used to be NE chapter pres & had blast with parties for clients with their architects & slides of their work. It was awesome. When I finished my term the follow up was same old thing. I quit, saddened.
  • PRO
    Richard Smith

    Generally I find that in residential work the biggest challenge is that people have a hard time gettintg their heads around paying someone to do a design. Maybe it looks like so much fun that we couldn"t possibly need to be paid for it! Or maybe it's lack of understanding about the value of the service. The value of ideas is hard to measure, yet that first concept is the most important thing an architect can give the client.

  • PRO
    Kipnis Architecture + Planning

    If you have clients that don't value your services you shouldn't be speaking with them or at the initial meeting you need to gently educate them about the true value of good design. You can save some money on a cheaper design, but at the end of the day you are living in that cheaper, presumed worse design, and when you go to sell your home you will see the real impact of trying to save money the wrong way. Excellent design should be a given if you are hiring going to time and expense of hiring an architect.

  • PRO
    OMNIA Group Architects

    One of our Blogs deals with Good Design Takes Time!

  • PRO
    Don Duffy Architecture
    Educating clients is a real theme here. How about selling good planning. Something most people can relate to. Good design is too broad. I find it humorous that one Architect in my market that I really admire for his talent and design ability is hated by my clients. They find my work much more appealing. And thus his good design does not close deals. But then he says the same thing about us. So I think design is too nebulas to sell.
    So I tell our clients lets do good planning, we do not talk about design. That just happens or is understood.
    Good planning does several things. It Provides clear direction to the whole building community. A valuable service. It provides evidence as to what is contracted for. And good planning provides incriminating evidence to support one's case why the work should be corrected. So buy E and O insurance in case you cannot plead the 5th. Or charge appropriately for the risk. A few $5000 checks adds up after a while.

    Let the clients define good design as they see it. They will hire you for your body of work. You are sold when they call. One could say your job to lose. For you younger architects without a body of work. One happy customer begets two, two,three, and three, five. It's your family tree. It all starts with a successful marriage. Live long and multiply.

    A closing note.
    You can waste a lot of time trying educate what good design is as defined by the architect.
    It's like saying "no really trust me that this pile of poop will not stick to your shows. Here let me show you."
    Why go there? Choose a battle worth winning. Happy clients will define your good design for you.
  • PRO
    Louis Design Solutions Architecture, LLC

    I like your take Don. I don't try to sell "good design". It's more about sensitive design. Design that responds to the client's needs. Additions that look like they could have been part of the original structure and not something tacked on, etc.

    I think in terms of proving my value, all of the things I emphasize could be lumped under the category of good planning. Doing the required research up front. Getting it right on paper before a shovel goes into the ground, etc.

    All of those shows on HGTV and the DIY Network that make the design process look so easy can give clients unrealistic expectations, but I use them to make my argument for me when I can. How many times have you seen the designers/contractors on one of those shows surprised in the middle of the project by some building code requirement they were unaware of or their failure to check the local zoning code before they got in over their heads. They gloss over these things on the show or treat them like minor setbacks, but those are the situations that kill relationships and land people in court in the real world.

Need help with an existing Houzz order? Call 1-800-368-4268