Designing a house, even in its simplest form, is the process of creating a list of needs and desires (“We need three bedrooms… we would like a two-car garage”), identifying the parameters and top residential architects in Miami, (“Our lot is only 60 feet wide” or “We only have two hundred thousand to spend.”) compiling a list of priorities (“A separate Laundry is more important to us than having a Study”), and then making a series of decisions and compromises that satisfy the needs while staying within the established constraints. A residential architect is trained to help the future homeowner through these daunting tasks by utilizing his specialized experience and skills.
By creating a well-organized floor plan early in the design stage, the architect can present questions to the home owner and help them make decisions for a more efficient and cost-effective house plan. For example, spatial progressions can be studied, like moving from the Garage into the Mudroom then into the Kitchen, may be preferred over walking directly into the Family Room from the Garage. Spatial relationships can also be examined, for example, keeping the public spaces like the Family and Dining Rooms grouped together, and the bedrooms, bathrooms, and office spaces in more private zones. How the Kitchen connects to the Dining Room, Breakfast Nook, or even a Hearth Room are also very important factors to study at this stage of the design. An efficient floor plan will minimize hallways and underused spaces, which eliminates wasted square footage that cost money to build.
After the plan is established, the architect will study detailed drawings of the vertical and spatial dimensions of the house. For example, this might be the first time that the homeowner can envision interior features like the fireplace and surrounding bookcases and windows, cabinetry, detailed trim like columns, art niches, and crown moulding. They will see spatial drawings showing 2-story foyers and rooms with vaulted ceilings. These drawings also help in the selection of materials; “Should the fireplace surround be drywall, wood, stone, or brick?” All of these questions assist the residential architect and client to visualize and appropriately develop every space and surface for a more complete and satisfying home design.
Exterior elevations will also be developed, helping the homeowners envision what their home will look like from the outside. What style is the house? What is its presence from the street? Does it have a bold roofline, or does it blend in with the surrounding landscape? What are the most appropriate materials for the house’s style? Which materials are the most cost-effective or most durable? These are all necessary design questions that must be answered, and can only be addressed by quality, detailed elevation drawings showing all exterior aspects of the house.
The detailed drawings produced by the residential architect can also save money for the client. Thoroughly executed drawings will resolve more details on “paper” and can minimize costly errors and “do-overs” made in the field by the contractors. The architect will usually drive the structural design of the house, making an effort to coordinate the structural framing with all the other systems of the house; like plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and the interior and exterior skins. And finally, a good set of construction drawings communicates better information to the bidding contractors, enabling them to confidently price all aspects of construction, rather than just inflating their prices to cover all of the unknowns.
The residential architect can help with the difficult process of turning the homeowners’ dreams and desires into a functional floor plan, incorporating all of the desired spatial, interior, and exterior design features with an eye towards budgetary limitations. By asking design questions early in the process, knowing materials, the latest construction technologies, and providing a detailed set of construction drawings, the architect can facilitate a more cost-effective bidding process and eliminate expensive construction mistakes in the field. All of these lead to a better final product and a satisfied home owner.