Do I Need an Architect?
I realize that the majority of new homes are not designed by architects. But naturally, as an architect I would recommend using one.
But a lot can be achieved by simply doing some homework and thinking through what you want your house to be. Even if your budget can only afford the “cookie cutter” house, it can still be better and more “well-suited” to you and your family. There are a few books out there that can help. Sarah Susanka’s books, my book, and others will offer food for thought. Check out house design magazines for inspiration images to prod your imagination. Visit model homes and look at them critically. Make notes of what you like, what you dislike, and how things feel. Understanding how to create the feeling of a house is the hardest part. That’s where an architect can be an invaluable guide.
Some critical elements in every design are proper site selection, proper positioning of the house on the land, a tightly planned house without extraneous, useless spaces, an over-riding concept to the plan and the design, a sense of proportion, a sense of proper human scale, a good flow, and good construction materials and craftsmanship. None of these elements, with the possible exception of good materials and craftsmanship have to cost any extra. Good thoughtfulness and solid planning only cost some time and effort. The payoff, however, is huge.