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Building a house... where to start?

acidboy

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okay so I mentioned in the 'things that are making you happy' thread that I just got this nice (approx. 6,300 sq. ft.) lot for my family's future home. short description, its almost rectangular shaped, 50 feet long in front, 75 feet long in the back. the property is between two other houses, and the rear is facing a street and across the street is a fairway.

anyway, me and the acidwife kinda agrees on the concept... big garden, natural light, awesome kitchen, house just the right size with minimum upkeep, yada yada yada... but we aren't down yet with a specific design, and quite frankly I don't know where to begin.

help!
 

venessian

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Hmmmm...research and then hire a local architect?
 

BrianVarick

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Narrow it down to a certain aesthetic that you like, then look for an architect that can deliver. I would strongly recommend getting a good one, so that you can tall him what you are looking to get out of your house, and how he can make it happen.
 

venessian

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Originally Posted by BrianVarick
Narrow it down to a certain aesthetic that you like, then look for an architect that can deliver. I would strongly recommend getting a good one, so that you can tall him what you are looking to get out of your house, and how he can make it happen.

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your post, but I would never hire a client who told me how I "can make it happen".

Not worth the (huge) PITA factor.
 

Rambo

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First and foremost - a good builder. I can understand the "good architect" suggestion but a well laid plan won't be worth a damn if the corners don't meet at 90 degree angles, they use shitty drywall, and the cabinets start to sag on the wall. I live in a gorgeous building that looks like it was put together with wattle and daub. Its pathetic how poorly its constructed.
 

venessian

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Originally Posted by Rambo
First and foremost - a good builder. I can understand the "good architect" suggestion but a well laid plan won't be worth a damn if the corners don't meet at 90 degree angles, they use shitty drywall, and the cabinets start to sag on the wall. I live in a gorgeous building that looks like it was put together with wattle and daub. Its pathetic how poorly its constructed.

5 things need to be "good", at the very least.

Good site.
Good budget, for the program.
Good client.
Good architect.
Good contractors.

A good client will suggest, engage, but also listen, carefully.
A good architect will help develop a good program and a good design.
A good contractor will be honest and take pride in the work.

Good luck.
 

BrianVarick

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Originally Posted by venessian
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your post, but I would never hire a client who told me how I "can make it happen".

Not worth the (huge) PITA factor.


I am talking more about finding someone who understands what you are looking for, and has the skill set to actually follow through with your vision. Many times clients don't have a clear idea of exactly what they want, so I think it's a good start to get an architect who can take what your saying, and give you some ideas that you may not have thought of.

When my parents were building their house, they knew what kind of house they wanted. They really like the homes in Sarah Susanka's books, but they had a hard time finding someone who was capable of building homes that are that custom looking. Most builders these days are trying to get as much square feet for the dollar.
 

NorCal

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Originally Posted by venessian
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your post, but I would never hire a client who told me how I "can make it happen".
Jeez, think highly of yourself do you?

Originally Posted by Rambo
First and foremost - a good builder. I can understand the "good architect" suggestion but a well laid plan won't be worth a damn if the corners don't meet at 90 degree angles, they use shitty drywall, and the cabinets start to sag on the wall. I live in a gorgeous building that looks like it was put together with wattle and daub. Its pathetic how poorly its constructed.

Wattle and daub is great, it would be better if your house were built of it.

Acid, don't try to reinvent the wheel and unless you have some serious $ don't waste money on some Roark wannabe. I would always advise to build smaller but build better.
For contractors asking around is the best way. Failing a personal recommendation hire local and make sure they have a big bond, not too many (if any) other projects going on and try to see a sample of their work. Also best to hire someone who has been around a while and who presents well.

And don't cheap out of drainage and other site prep.
 

SkinnyGoomba

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I would start by looking for an aesthetic and then find out who does that aesthetic well. Once you narrow down an Architect I'm sure he'll have some idea of who he wants to work with for a contractor.

The aesthetic is important, not all builders are good at building all things, so you want to find a company whose niche is what you like.
 

venessian

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Originally Posted by NorCal
Jeez, think highly of yourself do you?
No, not at all, actually.

But I do have experience, and have found that there are a number of clients who do not accept the complexity of design, sorry. Those clients tend to believe that they do in fact "know it all", that the architect is simply there to realize their "design" without actually engaging the architect's expertise and advice. These are often the same clients who will dismiss the architect's suggestions, want to pay as little as possible, and then rely on a combination of friends, residential draftsmen, and generally lousy contractors...the result then is a hodge-podge of a job, with which the clients themselves are often dissatisfied, but way too late.

Is this arrogance on my part? I think not. I think it is dedication to my craft, pure and simple. And I think dedication and professionalism should be respected, among all people.

I have spent many, many years on my education and career, gaining experience that I think is valid. If a client wishes to hire me, of course I engage, listen, learn and work very hard with them. My favorite living "famous" architect is Renzo Piano, who is absolutely known for not imposing an ego on clients.

I don't know what you do for a living, but I would never engage you and then proceed to tell you how to do your work. I don't tell my cardiologist, doctor, banker, etc. how to do their work.

Yet architects are often undervalued, especially in the US, and often treated as servants to some confused "grand vision", comprised often of contradictory images cut from various magazines, etc. That's completely normal for a client, and quite acceptable at the beginning of the process. But the obstinance and ego I have seen from clients often far exceeds any arrogance on the part of the architect. It does not lead to a good result generally.

I mean, you stated this yourself: "Acid, don't try to reinvent the wheel...", no?
Yet, you yourself then state: "...don't waste money on some Roark wannabe.", which sort of exemplifies a very common attitude towards architects.

Whether the OP has "serious $" or not, he should never waste them on a bad architect. The bad ones are pretty easy to spot, and best avoided. But bad clients are also pretty easy to spot, and also best generally avoided. It's just a huge headache. Why do you think so many new home projects result in divorce? Because of the ego of the architect? I don't think so.
 

venessian

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Originally Posted by BrianVarick
I am talking more about finding someone who understands what you are looking for, and has the skill set to actually follow through with your vision. Many times clients don't have a clear idea of exactly what they want, so I think it's a good start to get an architect who can take what your saying, and give you some ideas that you may not have thought of.

When my parents were building their house, they knew what kind of house they wanted. They really like the homes in Sarah Susanka's books, but they had a hard time finding someone who was capable of building homes that are that custom looking. Most builders these days are trying to get as much square feet for the dollar.


Got it.
I agree completely.
Sorry for misunderstanding your previous post.
 

Piobaire

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Originally Posted by venessian
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your post, but I would never hire a client who told me how I "can make it happen".

Not worth the (huge) PITA factor.




This is more architect than anything RSS has ever said.
 

SkinnyGoomba

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I think we're more or less on the same page as you, whenever I hire a professional to do a job I always let them do the job. I feel strongly that professionals dont need to be micromanaged, simply hired and if they are not doing well fired.
 

venessian

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Originally Posted by SkinnyGoomba
I would start by looking for an aesthetic and then find out who does that aesthetic well. Once you narrow down an Architect I'm sure he'll have some idea of who he wants to work with for a contractor.

The aesthetic is important, not all builders are good at building all things, so you want to find a company whose niche is what you like.

Yes.
Originally Posted by Piobaire


This is more architect than anything RSS has ever said.

Problem is, I'll never best Frank Gehry at that, who turned down a $BILLION commission.

Originally Posted by SkinnyGoomba
I think we're more or less on the same page as you, whenever I hire a professional to do a job I always let them do the job. I feel strongly that professionals dont need to be micromanaged, simply hired and if they are not doing well fired.
Yes. But in this case, the 3-way dialogue (client/arch./GC) is critical.
 

gomestar

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some extended family of ours recently built a house. The property is rather nice - there is a wide river, an acre of county space (cannot build on), a quiet road, and then 2 more acres of property to build on. The thing is, they have god awful taste and literally picked a house from a magazine at Home Depot. My GF, an architect, took a look at the plans and did one of those "really??" statements as they would have had 30 feet of garage blasting from the front blocking 1/2 of the river views, and a main room back in the rear facing trees rather than the water to the south (which would have meant lack of sunlight), and a whole number of other things that would have been terrible for the site. GF took the plans and rearranged most of the house, and while it still looks like a McMansion (don't worry, Piano/Pawson/Ando are still amongst her favorite architects and this house is not a reflection of her style), at least it is conducive to the advantages of the site and how the family lives. And they couldn't be happier.

So that is my story.
 

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