Susan, you asked me to write an article or two stating what is involved in designing a house. Well, there are a lot of different things and a lot of different steps and I could probably write a book about the process. So maybe we could break it up into chronological pieces?? Seems simple… That being said, I guess I should start with the client, since that is the most important piece of the puzzle.
I have yet to meet a client who walks up to me and simply says, “Design me a house!” Of course my name isn’t Frank Lloyd Wright or Richard Meyer. No, everyone comes to me with at least a sketch of an idea of what they want, even on a napkin (yes, I have even had a few of these). And that’s okay. But most of the time my clients come to me with very descriptive ideas including pictures of exactly what they want. They have stacks of plans they’ve looked through and have decided the want part of this plan and part of that plan all welded into one grand design. They think the task will be daunting with all this information, but it actually makes my job a lot easier. “Give them what they want” is the motto I design my houses by. For, it is not my house, it is my client’s house and my client’s money. They are about to take out a very large loan on something they hope to spend the next twenty, thirty, or fifty years of their life in. I want them to be happy with their house every step of the way.
Being tentative and communicating frequently with the client is probably the most important part of my job. Most of my clients are very intellegent yet they won’t know everything about the design process (which is why I am here) and there are road blocks that will come up from the preliminary layout to the very last minute of the design process. I have had a client whom I completed the design and drawings for and at the very last minute I thought the house would most certainly work better on their lot if the whole plan were flipped, thus utilizing the natural elements of the lot better and more efficiently. They agreed, I flipped the house, and that is how it was built. It took a little extra work on my part, but the client was much more happy with their house and I am thankful for it. I hear horror stories all the time about how new homeowners get stuck with a set of plans or a house that they wish they would have done differently. Well, I try to pose every question and every angle along the way so no stone is unturnned at the end of the design process and the client gets exactly what they want.
Before I decided to design houses for other people I designed and built my own house on five acres just south of College Station that my family resides in today. I was my own general contractor so I got the first hand experience of being the designer, builder, and client all in one. As a result I like to think I have a better level of understanding and communication with my clients, builders, realtors, etc than someone who just spits out cad drawings. Plus I hold a Master’s Degree in Architecture from Texas A&M which gives me that much more design experience.
President & C.E.O.
Woodhill Studios Inc.
P.O. Box 655
Millican, TX 77866