Ask any group of people what they think “good design” means, and you’re likely to receive a range of responses. For most of us the easier question may be, “What is bad design?” We seem to immediately recognize what we consider unattractive. When the question of design relates to our homes, the wide variety of houses built all across the country proves that, as a society, we have some extremely diverse opinions about what we consider to be good design.
This is a complex topic, so I’ll offer my comments in several parts over the next few weeks.
In the creation of both the exterior and the interior design of a home, four essential elements come into play: scale, proportion, mass, and functionality. Adjusting one of these elements often changes the others. Thus, the impact of modifying virtually any aspect of a design must be carefully considered.
Although most people don’t analyze why they are attracted to certain homes but not others, they often find themselves drawn to houses that have been designed and built with particular attention to details. Most of us have an innate sense of scale and proportion, and we respond to houses in which these elements combine to yield a feeling of permanence.
People frequently find homes built in the early part of the twentieth century attractive. Many of these residences were constructed during a period when architects and builders paid strict attention to craftsmanship and details.
For example, the next time you look at a porch, consider the posts that support the roof above. For most porches 4” × 4” columns will suffice structurally, but somehow they seem too small. A porch with 8” × 8” columns just feels better. Thicker posts give us the sense that the porch is a safe and secure place.
Take a look at the porch columns on these two plans (PBH-5244, PBH-3164) and see if you don’t agree.
By Larry Garnett
If you’ve been in the home building business for a while, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the “highs and lows” of this profession. After surviving what many consider the worst economic times since the Great Depression, you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief as the market continues to improve.
Since I’ve been designing homes and planning neighborhoods for small to medium size builders for over 35 years, you can imagine how many of the “highs and lows” I’ve witnessed. I’ve watched many builders navigate these times quite successfully, and unfortunately, I’ve seen many who didn’t survive.
Over the next weeks and months, I hope to relate some of the thoughts about design and building that I’ve been able to accumulate. Thirty-five years provides a great deal of valuable perspective, along with even more gray hair!
One of the first lessons I learned early in my career was the tremendous value of good design. Most of us tend to be somewhat complacent when things are going well, and many builders become reluctant to try new ideas.
While the importance of innovative design might be ignored when you’re selling those same old designs as fast as you can build them, consider this: exciting and functional designs can be the one thing that really distinguishes you from your competition.
I’m not suggesting that you design and build the most unique and forward-thinking design that’s ever been built in your community! Rather, take advantage of some of the newest plans that are offered by experienced designers and architects. Homes that are innovative and fresh, but still offer the features that will motivate your clients. Here are a couple of designs that can offer you a design edge over your competition!