Residential Design

VOL.5 2018

A business-to-business magazine focused on the collaborative process and talented work of residential architects and custom homebuilders.

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Conveying Your Value to Clients BY MARICA MCKEEL, AIA, STUDIO MM ARCHITECT Photo: Brad Feinknopf What is the value of an architect? This question is one that the American Institute of Architects has spent a lot of effort trying to answer for the public through marketing and media. It is one of the most important questions in our profession today. As residential architects, the value that we bring to a project is far more than merely the finished product. I was speaking with one of my peers the other day and he commented that he doesn't feel as if many people he speaks to about designing their home actually appreciate all that an architect does. I was thinking about that later and realized, if we as architects aren't the ones talking about what we do and explaining the value of our profession, why should we expect our clients to know? Below is an excerpt from the Frequently Asked Questions post on our website. This is one way we try to convey the value of an architect to the public. Please keep in mind that my audience is people who are thinking about building a home and considering working with an architect. My audi- ence is not architects. We have received a lot of positive feedback from people who visit our website saying they appreciate our honesty and open- ness in explaining how we work. It helps them understand that what they imagine is an intimidating process (this may surprise you, but we have heard that more than once) actually sounds like a lot of fun. And many of those people have become clients. I'm not sharing the answers below to suggest that all ar- chitects should provide similar services or that one process is the right one. Far from it. I'm sharing the following text as an example of how we tell our story. Even sharing such a simple thing as answers to questions your clients ask you the most begins to explain the value of an architect. Can you walk me through the process for a typical project? Sure. We are involved in your project from the very beginning through final completion and happy clients. This may sound a bit corny but that's why we do what we do, so it's extremely important to us. We are there to guide you through and make sure the process of designing your home goes smoothly. There are essentially four phases of design: Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, and Construction Administration. SD and DD are our "design phases" where we have the most interaction with our clients and are working closely with them to create their dream home. Schematic Design Phase We start the Schematic Design (SD) Phase with an informa- tion-gathering session—Pre-Design—in which we ask you a lot of questions about how you live and how you intend to live in your new home. This is our chance to get to know you better and learn what you're really looking for and need in your new home. We rely on your input and active collaboration to make your new home the best it can be. Every decision we make during this phase is made in tandem. Design Development Phase Over the course of Design Development (DD) we spend lots of time talking about interior and exterior aesthetics and functionality. While we've finalized a floor plan, we still need to discuss exactly how closets and bathrooms lay out, deter- mine window placements, and make large-scale decisions about materials and the forms of the house. This phase is often when clients really feel the design coming to life. It be- comes easier to imagine everyday life in their new home when they can "walk through" how they will use their kitchen and what the fixtures and finishes in their personal spaces will be. Construction Documents Phase During the Construction Documents (CD) Phase we are hard at work on extremely thorough drawings of the project. I think it is most easily described with the following quote: "This is the part where we take all of our schematic ideas and design decisions made during SD and DD and document the details needed for the contractor to build your home." Studio MM Architect designs houses in close collaboration with its clients— among them, Lake Wylie House in Lake Wylie, S.C., (shown above) and Lantern House in Kerhonkson, N.Y. (shown next page). 35 VOL. 5, 2018 RESIDENTIALDESIGNMAGA ZINE.COM AIA CRAN

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