Design me a home!


Not really!

Hi everyone, I'm new here. I'm not an architect, but I was hoping to get in contact with one, as I have some questions. This place natural seemed like a good place to start.

My questions would focus on designing a mid sized house.

To preface; In the future, I'd like to essentially have a house built for me. Nothing too fancy, but something that fits my aesthetic. My problem is that I have really no idea where to start to get some information.

Can anyone help?

Apr 22, 14 7:13 pm

Check your local American Institute of Architects Chapter and begin looking for architects that have similar projects in taste and scale for your budget and aesthetics you're looking for.


Then pick up the phone and call for a meeting.

Pretty simple.

Apr 22, 14 7:19 pm

Screw the AIA. Best way is word of mouth.

Do you know someone who used an architect and had a good experience? See any projects in your area that you like? Know any good builders?

Talk to people you know locally. Architecture is best when it is a local service.

Apr 22, 14 7:27 pm

Agree, the AIA blows, it is a useless, oldboys, dues collecting organization, focused on self promotion and minimal service to the architects they are supposed to represent.  

Look at projects with the aesthetic you like in your area, find out who designed them, talk to the owners of the homes, find out if they had a good experience with the architect and g.c. they worked with.   As miles said, network with people you know, word of mouth. 

Apr 22, 14 7:34 pm

The previous two posters are not happy with their AIA because though they're not willing to volunteer time to the AIA they still expect it to bring them unicorn-clients farting pots of gold and rainbows. Ignore their bitterness.

Your local AIA will have a website that lists all of the local architects and their specialties.  You will want to start with a residential firm, *not* one that designs hospitals or sports stadiums.  There  are specialties within the field, and residential is a strong area of specialty.  The website Houzz is also a fantastic resource for local residential designers - not all of them are architects, but in most states you don't need to be a registered architect to design a single family residential project.

Ask people you know if they know any architects.  If your dentist's husband's cousin's wife is an architect, call her - even if she is a hospital designer, she will be able to give you recommendations on good residential firms.  Also, drive through neighborhoods that have houses you like and look for designer and builder yard signs.  If you go to a local bar or hair salon or boutique that has a cool design, ask the owner if they used an architect - many residential architects also do small commercial projects.  Architects don't typically do a lot of advertising - we are mostly a word-of-mouth business - but sometimes they will advertise in smaller newspaper/weeklies or local monthly city "lifestyle" magazines.  Those types of magazines also often feature projects by local designers, so you can start to learn some names.

If you find some potential firms, have a meeting with them - an initial meeting to discuss your project should never cost anything.  If you have a good rapport with the person, great.  if you don't like them, if they seem pretentious or overbearing or don't really listen to you (or if they spend the whole meeting whining about the AIA), find someone else.  Designing a home is the most intimate project an architect can take on, and if you don't have a good rapport with the designer the project and relationship will likely turn bad, quickly.

Bob Borson's website Life of An Architect has some fun posts about working with clients and is a good glimpse at how a residential architect works.

Good luck!

Apr 22, 14 8:38 pm
Then, call the architect and ask them to give you an off the cuff quote over the phone and then complain when it's more than you expected (only happened to me twice today, must be a good day)
Apr 22, 14 8:47 pm

+++ Donna unicorn-clients farting pots of gold and rainbows

Be careful what you wish for. If it sounds too good to be true it most certainly is.

AIA = American Institute for Autism.

Apr 22, 14 8:54 pm

i would like some of donna's clients.

Apr 22, 14 9:00 pm

What chiurm said, except look at homes in your area about four or five years old that appeal to you and talk with the owners and see if they have been there all that time and can point out any problems that may be developing. You not only need a good architect you need a good builder as well.

Apr 22, 14 9:07 pm

Contacting the AIA is harmless enough, but DON'T ever let them convince you than an AIA designation means anything other than a willingness to pay $$$ in order to have those initials after your name.  It is NOT the same as a doctor being board certified, etc.

Apr 23, 14 12:49 pm

^ Yep.

Apr 23, 14 1:23 pm

Do you have a site?

Apr 23, 14 1:26 pm

My advice would be to first check out some books on architecture.  Don't assume you know what your aesthetic is or that you know what you like.  First educate yourself and try to identify projects that you appreciate.  Once you build the home you will probably start to become more interested in architecture and as you look around you will start to regret certain choices you made.  Make sure you know enough about your options before you start to make any decisions on who to hire or what you want.  

Apr 23, 14 2:00 pm

Also, rather than looking for specific styles or examples think about general needs and general feelings you are trying to achieve.  Be able to explain the space in a poetic and non definitive way.  

The nature of the lighting.  The tactile qualities of materials.  The openness of certain spaces. The way the spaces will provide serenity.   Etc.   this will give any good architect the ammo needed without limiting his/her creativity  and your projects potential.  

Apr 23, 14 2:07 pm

Oh my f*cking gad MJ just gave free advice

Apr 23, 14 5:24 pm


How to find an architect, not how to design my house.

Apr 23, 14 7:32 pm

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