OK, I'm trying to talk my cousin into at least considering having her own
place built. She lives in the general area of Greenville, South Carolina.
The goofy thing is that I don't know how to give her *practical* info re:
the process, how to apporach an architect or architectural designer, how to
even find one (she can't spend months just driving around looking for
houses she likes and THEN hunt down who migh thave designed them - she
simply won't and can't).
So, my question is,
If you were faced with a total and complete rube, with only a modest
budget, is there an informational website such a person could look at, or
what would you tell them?
I'd really like to get her thinking about this, because she's rejected it
as an option and IMO that is a mistake, especially given that she does not
want to be in a typical suburban development and needs a single-level home
(for accessibility - she can't deal with stairs well and is decreasingly
able to do so).
I'd like to give her info but I don't know what practical, nuts'n'bolts,
"here's how you get started" info to give her (because I'm long on theory
and really short on practicalities she can actually use).
Many thanks in Advance!
You can lead a horse to water...
If she knows anyone who has had a house designed, that would be a good
If not, I found very little of use for Greenville architects.
I can offer the names of a few good Charleston SC architects.
North Carolina has a nice architectural community, including several
universities with architectural programs. I was particularly impressed
on one visit down there with the program at NC State for how practice as
opporsed to pie in the sky oriented it was.
It is a good idea to hire locally. That way you get something
contextual to the surroundings, something designed to your needs and
soemthing hopefully designed out of local materials containing the best
of recent green and energy efficient technology. The AIA, in every
state, often has free seminars on the design process so that people who
have never worked with an architect before can understand how the
process works and how to plan their input. Local architects will also
usually be familiar with local builders and may have already done a
design build or two as part of a regular alliance.
By utilizing an architect through all phases of the design, you also
have someone whose liability extends through every aspect of the design
In her case, it's at the point of letting the horse know that water
Not at all.
Do they do modest (3000 to 3200 sq ft) homes? If that's not outside
their "envelope" so to speak, that'd be great, I can at least give her
the names, and then she can decide what to do.
If you want to keep them away from search-bots, I'm at
Because I have not got Clue One as to how to find disigners, or design-
build firms, in her area. Also, I told her I'd send along additional
info as I could find it.
Well, she keeps complaining about her current cookie-cutter domicile,
which is why I'm trying to do some of this for her. The thing is that
for her, all of this is as unknown as the surface of the moon. SHe's
rejected building out-of-hand, which IMO is foolish - this is why I'm
looking for what could be described as "The Dummy's Guide to Building a
Home". In a way, I'm pushing her a bit, because it *is* fairly unknown
to her and I don't want her to unnecessarily cut herself short so to
At the same time, I'm in Houston, TX, she's in the general vicinity of
Greenville, SC - and I've never been out there. So, I have no idea what
is or isn't being built, what the land situation is, or really, anything.
That being said, I will pass along what you suggested above, thanks!
I'm also not clear on the rules concerning peple from one state designing
for people in another state - I'd assume there could be problems with
finding fgood local contractors and supervising the project...
I get a lot of my leads from ServiceMagic.com. The way that works is that
owners looking for architects go to servicemagic.com and select "Hire an
Architect to Design a Project" and then complete a short requirements form
including location, project type, approximate budget, square footage,
expected level of quality etc etc etc. Then SM matches these criteria with
local architects who are part of their network. Dozens of member architects
(pre-screened to be licensed) in that area get the leads without owner
contact information and the first 3 who purchase the leads get her contact
information. She just needs to sit and wait and 3 local architects will
contact her to set up initial appointments where she can move forward from
there if she chooses to.
She just needs to go to www.servicemagic.com and select "architects and
engineers". The rest is completely intuitive. The one recommendation I
would suggest that you give her is to put a realistic budget number in the
"budget" section because most architects receiving these leads will not buy
the lead contact information if there isn't a sense of what a real budget vs
SF etc is. For example, I ONLY buy leads from SM if the estimated budget #
(say $300,000.00) has a semblence of reality with desired SF (say 1500SF).
If I see a lead with that information I know that the home owner expects
costs to be approximately $200/SF which is a realistic initial goal. I DO
NOT buy leads that have an unrealistic estimated budget #/SF ratio (say
$50,000.00/4000SF). Of all the leads I receive, about 20-30 a day, 90% of
them are unrealistic and thus I don't waste my time and money on them. But
when that realistic lead comes in, I jump on it and contact the homeowner
OH! See, now I've seen the site but was very leery of it, never having
known anyone who used it. I guess it actually works, then...good to
know, thanks!, maybe I shoudl use it to find soem landscapers as well -
I'm sick of all the fly-by-night types tho' that's a completely separate
I guess it'd also work for "design-build" and "arch. designers", then,
I didn't know any of that - thanks! It's good info to keep hold of.
The hard part to get a handle on is the price per sq ft - that's
something I've never been sure abut when thinking about having my own
place built (some day...) Is $200SqFt the best for uincluding both fees
and good quality? Since I'm sure that ties intimately into the sq ft
pricing, I'll clarify: I don't mean "top of the line indistrial fridge"
or anything, or "hand-finished kitchen cbinets loaded with decorations",
just nice appearance and sound/sturdy construction - there is a price
area with almost everything where one transitions from "looks nice and is
built to last" into "that, plus lots of decorations and/or expensive
materials and/or hand-done surfaces", i.e. where sturdy transitions to
fancy. I'm trying to get a handle on "sturdy but still looks reasonably
nice". I've Zero interest in "fancy surface but cheesy quality"...
For example, would $125 per sq ft be reasonable? Or would that not be
enough to include fees plus costs?
Thanks again, this is all great info and I do appreciate you're (and
y'all's ;) ) time in providing it!
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