I have a close friend in North Carolina who builds extraordinarily well-designed, efficient, and beautiful homes. Really, I should put beautiful first, because that's what they are from every perspective: aesthetics, efficiency, and utility. He designs and builds a home that is pleasing to the senses as well as the wallet.
Since he designs what he builds and builds what he designs, he has a fundamental understanding of what it will cost his client every time he draws a line on paper.
He has a saying: "There are three key drivers in designing a custom home: size, features, and budget. You tell me two of those three, and I'll tell you the third."
It means one of two things, depending on your perspective.
Bottom line—one of those three things has to give.
So what does that all have to do with the one question to ask your house plan designer? Here's the question:
"What specific ways do you, as a house designer, work to design my home so that it can be built within my budget?"
I have to be honest here. If you ask most architects or house designers that question, you're going to get either a deer-in-the-headlights stare, or you're going to get an answer that basically throws all responsibility for cost on the builder's shoulders.
The simple truth is that the cost to build a house comes down to three key factors—the first and biggest of which is the responsibility of the house designer:
At the most fundamental level, all things equal, a bigger house costs more than a smaller one. That makes logical sense. But there are also an infinite number of ways to arrange those square feet, and different arrangements can make the same amount of square footage cost different amounts to build.
Imagine an Oklahoma house that's 100 square feet. It's a tiny house, but stick with me. Let's say the exterior walls of that house cost $10 per linear foot for framing, insulation, drywall, trim, paint, and brick. You can draw lots of shapes that equal 100 square feet, but I'll give you two examples.
Designer's view vs. builder's view
To the house designer, those walls are just lines on a page. To the builder, they are physical walls that require certain quantities of labor and materials. To you, the person paying for it, they are dollars and cents.
If the designer doesn't take care to design the house plan as efficiently as possible while meeting the needs of the family he's working for, then you end up spending unnecessary dollars that take away dollars you could be investing in your family's dreams. Not a good trade.
The home designer has control over the design efficiency. You want one who is sensitive to the fact that every square foot costs money and not every square foot is created equal. He or she has to know which is which and how to design to meet the competing needs of square footage and budget.
A home builder for 18 years, Tim is the "son" in Turner & Son Homes. He is the CEO of the company and partners with his dad, Ben, who has been building since 1964.
The current home on our property has been in existence for over 80 years. We love our property, and made our decision to build our new house there. Turner and Son was the first company we considered and we didn't have to look any further.
The Wells family
March 9, 2016