Question for residential architects



I would like to know what your opinions are on clients who would like to be more hands on when working with architects to build a house? Are architects turned off at all by clients who want to learn more about the ins and outs of the design process and construction? I've always been very passionate about architecture but I've never had the chance to receive any formal training such as going through architecture school.

My work is in the tech industry relating to product design.

All comments are appreciated!

Jan 22, 19 2:25 pm

Architects love an over engaged client. Remember, indecision and flip flopping are part of the process and highly encouraged. Also, late and missing payments only add to energy of it all. 

Jan 22, 19 2:59 pm

It's always best when the flip flopping occurs at the last minute and when it is a fixed fee contract. Architects always love giving their time away for free.


Never fixed fee in residential, ever. Always a percentage of final cost.


In all seriousness I love curious clients. I don't love nosy clients. It's a subtle but important difference. 

Ask questions with open enthusiasm and curiosity and I'm more than happy to walk anyone through just about anything. Just don't get cocky

Jan 22, 19 3:06 pm

Second this. Our office has one client that gets too involved in the design process and keeps giving us a long list of corrections that need to be made in the design. We now have a fireplace right in front of a floor-to-ceiling window lol architecture


Great. I'm definitely not trying to pretend I know more than the architect. Thanks for the perspective!


Indeed. I third what tduds said as a building designer. The annoying type of clients are the micromanaging, arrogant, "think they know better than the professional" type of clients. 

I welcome them making clarifications about what they want and communicate what they are not liking about a design proposal and that's the active feedback that is part of the iterative process of designing.

Jan 22, 19 3:20 pm

I've had clients all over the place, the best are the ones that know what they want and don't try to put their hands in the dough; the worst are "magazine scanners" that want a different trend every other day but don't bother to look at the window schedule and don't answer questions for months - just yesterday I had to send a request to change the specs on already ordered windows.

Jan 22, 19 6:16 pm


Jan 23, 19 10:19 am
Non Sequitur

I don't get it... all our WC are always set to 460mm from the wall as dictated by building code. Video should be redone using the entire washroom instead.


"We now have a fireplace right in front of a floor-to-ceiling window lol architecture"

Jan 23, 19 10:44 am

This looks like the fireplace is part of the wall, and at least it is a nice space. The client wanted the fireplace 3 feet right in front of the floor-to-ceiling window, obstructing the view to the Pacific Ocean. Trust me, it looks worse than your picture.

Non Sequitur

u^4, is it one of those ceiling hung bulbous fireplaces? I see those everywhere... I think even the project example in revit has such a family.


if it is, they're not UL certified, not allowed here at least.


I wish it is! But he wants a floor-to-ceiling fireplace. I am quite amused by his requests, my boss is pissed. Hopefully he changes his mind before it gets built.


He'll change his mind after it is built and then blame you for designing something so stupid.

Hard to say without knowing the expertise and personality of the architect and client. Are architects turned off at all by clients who want to learn more about the ins and outs of the design process and construction? generally i'd say no. and architects should be happy to have a client that is interested in architecture. 

It would be a problem though if the client started nitpicking every detail, or trying to find 'shortcuts' in the construction process. sometimes when clients get really involved because they think they can come up with a silver bullet solution to make things go faster or be cheaper and.... often these proposed solutions are terrible. lol

Interestingly, an interview we did with a very well known residential architect in socal talked about this very question and why working with clients in the tech-industry poses unique challenges. you might get something from it.

Jan 24, 19 11:36 am

Just listened to the podcast, it was very helpful. Thanks!


With regards to the fireplace problem uuuu mentioned above perhaps something like this would be a solution. The view of the Pacific would be pretty much unobstructed for seated persons anyway.  It could also be relocated easier than a conventional fireplace.

Jan 27, 19 9:47 am

Engaged clients can be the best, or they can be the. worst.  It really depends on HOW they engage themselves, and what their manner is.  Some of the best interior detailing I've done came about as a result of a total PIA client who was an engineer, and retired at the start of the project, leaving him with immense amounts of time to criticize every tiny detail of his house. On the one hand, I totally sympathized, because quite frankly if it were my home I'd be doing the same (I have a much harder time understanding the clients who ask us to design their personal private home and then can hardly seem to stir themselves to care about any aspect of it) -- however, it was really excessive and created a bad atmosphere on the jobsite at times, when the GC was hesistant to implement a certain design because he was sure the client would show up the next day and ask him to rip it all out.  Basically everyone on the project hated the client by the end of it, because he constantly stopped by and interfered.  However, he also did legitimately push me to come up with some really cool, crafty details and in the end the house was really phenomenal.  

So... I'd say, definitely get involved, but be careful to listen to your designer and your GC and don't just run roughshod.  If you're going to interfere, interfere EARLY rather than during construction.  Stop your architect every once in awhile and make sure you are paying $ for your interference -- ie, the architect will write her proposal based on a standard level of client involvement, and if you ask for too many iterations or want to go into extra detail on something where it wasn't envisioned, she's going to be stuck between pushing back on you (REALLY hard to do) and eating the cost.  If you can be self-aware about this, you should make sure that everyone's on the same page about what the proposal does and doesn't cover, and be forthright about asking your architect if you think you might owe her some additional services money.  When you're shopping around for a GC, make it known that you want to be involved throughout construction, and during the interviews be careful to select for a GC that is ok with that.  If the GC is not aware that that's how it's going to be, he is going to start to hate you during construction, and the LAST thing you want is a GC who hates you.  

Basically, just be upfront, and make sure you pay people for their time and quite frankly for the added client management/communication time they will be spending above what they typically would anticipate.

Jan 30, 19 11:28 pm

clients basically design it anyway, residential or otherwise.  That’s why there is so much shit everywhere. There was a time when architects were respected, and held unique skills and knowledge, and the client relied on that and trusted the designer. we are in the age of information, so the client can go on google images and tell you to do this or that, and shit out another design thinking they know best.

Jan 30, 19 11:43 pm

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