Topics Change Periodically
Choices and Decisions: Understanding the Building Process
Nothing in the building process is accidental. It’s all about choices and decisions. Informed choices and rational decisions are the engines of a successful outcome. From the large: How much money will it take and what resources will I use? To the small: What material and color for the counters?
Decision Making 101
A complex enterprise requires lots of decisions. They’re often technical and they always seem to bunch up. The solution is prioritize. Do the most important big decisions first. Break each big one each down into manageable understandable parts so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Identify and distinguish needs from wants. Use this exercise: Divide a sheet of paper or word processing page in half. On the left side list all your wants. List everything as they occur to you or as you have been thinking about, or fantasizing, about them. Then on the right side prioritize the list into needs. This only works if you are honest with yourself. Expect the resulting list to be tested again when firm numbers come in. Don’t be surprised if you have to prioritize again.
What About Tiny Houses?
Tiny houses have captured the imagination of many by introducing low cost (often DIY) solutions to the housing market. Areas are usually well under the generally accepted ±500 sf definition. Structures under 200 sf, often called Micro Houses, are the most popular. Frequently mounted on wheels to evade building code restrictions almost all use workarounds to deal with planning/zoning and building codes. Our vision and offerings of livability in a small house begin with an area around 450 sf, conventionally constructed, complying with applicable codes in an approvable setting. Check out our smaller designs which are spacious despite their modest area. Kitchen layouts are not compromised by the small footprint.
Sustainability is ultimately a personal commitment based on held values. Evaluating the principles and materials on purely economic terms misses the point. From a modest movement a few years ago it’s now a full fledged industry. There are sustainability resources to satisfy any level of interest and dedication. Using countertops as an example the range of recycled content is enormous: paper, wood, glass, stone, agricultural waste . . . you get the idea. However, local availability of materials with recycled content varies. Shipping cost when necessary can be a deal breaker. In some areas local product availability may be limited to national home centers.
Dream Home Thinking
The “Dream Home” and its partner “Dream Home Thinking” are fixtures in the American psyche and media. They are understandable but unfortunate clichés because fanciful thinking distracts from rational decisions. A near cousin is “Gotta Have.” One example is marble countertops. A reality check says that beyond high cost the material requires frequent sealing to prevent staining. Tip a glass over and there is little margin of error. Plus, some high end materials look out of place in a budget oriented installation. The bottom line: Don’t let want trump need.
About Architects and Building Designers
An individual can not be called an architect without a professional license. Architects are licensed by the state. The requirements which vary by state include education, experience and examination. Some architects have “AIA” after their name. Some do not. The AIA (American Institute of Architects) is the largest professional organization for architects. The AIA does not license architects to practice nor does membership confer additional training, capability or competency. Members of the AIA use the title AIA after their name to signify membership.
A Building Designer is an individual who is actively engaged in the practice of residential design. The AIBD (American Institute of Building Design) is the professional organization for building designers. The National Council of Building Designer Certification (NCBDC), an autonomous body, administers an examination and certification program. Those certified are permitted to use the title of Certified Professional Building Designer (CPBD).
Other letter credentials can appear after a professional’s name. A common example is “LEED AP” which stands for LEED Accredited Professional. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Accreditation is certified by the USGBC (US Green Building Council). There are other organizations whose membership allows letters after a professional’s name.