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For designers; it makes me really sad the terrible choices people make


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14 minutes ago, CharlieKLP said:

sometimes I think if we charged extra for an architectural design service, people would listen a bit more

Test it out with your current employers.

Always better to test a market with others money and reputation.

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Good design does not have to be expensive. But it is usually based on many years of learning and experience, so to give it away too cheaply can also be wrong (if it is your living).

 

Expensive design is not necessarily good design. It takes longer to do something when less skilled.

 

Some clients want and will pay for vanity projects (usually with someone else's money (churches, banks, universities, government), and just a few normal people.

 

Most people want a box that will keep the weather out, last many years with low maintenance, and be a pleasant space to occupy, and cost as little as sensible to build. 

 

Thus there are those of us who need everything done by Architects*, or those who need Technicians, and those who pretty well know what they want and welcome some expertise.

 

* who don't of course do 'everything', or necessarily understand costs or building science, though many of course do.

And then there are those, sometimes on this Hub, who think it is all easy, don't agree to rules, and either suffer themselves or make the rest of us suffer.

 

What was the question again?  Ah yes, why do some people not appreciate me and pay me more?

 

The answer in summary is that there are good and bad designers as well as good and bad clients.

 

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thanks saveasteading, good points.

 

Just to clarify though, I get paid the same at the end of the day so I don’t mind what people actually spend on the service.

 

All I really want is people to allow me to design for them, rather than copy their designs. I’d like them to listen to me when I say it won’t get planning, and I’d like them to see that it matters where you put windows make nice spaces.

 

I see that as valuing design. The process of designing is important in my opinion, where you start from the brief and plot, and then develop in sketches together. I think if you start from a customer sketch it’s usually the wrong start.


id like people to value that. Not sure how to.

 

 

Edited by CharlieKLP
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13 minutes ago, CharlieKLP said:

I think if you start from a customer sketch it’s usually the wrong start.

Don't you run the risk of feeling you have to change things to justify your existence though.

 

How you you deal with a self builder that came to you with a design that was right?

 

To give you an example, when I was doing my Doctorate, my supervisors kept telling me it was my project.  Except it wasn't, it was theirs.

Edited by SteamyTea
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8 minutes ago, CharlieKLP said:


 

this is amazing, exactly what I’m looking for! 
 

it’s not often you get actual help on a forum ty.

 

Your welcome.

 

I would add that this forum consists of many, what I would call 'expert' self builder, those that gone through the process and are here to contribute and help others with the journey. They might not reflect the majority of self builders in the UK. But certaintly a good place to start. 

 

For my bit as a self builder. I did not use an architect, but a combo of house designer/structural engineer. I wanted to keep my design costs low and was happy with a design that I had seen elsewhere. I have a good plot, good views etc, but my aim with the build was to forget about the total build costs but concentrate on what it would cost for me to live in the house (Mortgage, council tax, heat/light) All in, my bills are £500 a month which at 35 now means that I'm not carrying a chain around my neck for the next thirty years. Just so happens that property prices have increased significantly in my area since starting, so my LTV is now 20%.

 

Architects in my local area mostly consist of design services in producing house kits or bespoke community based projects. If I was architect this would be the area I would look at, lots of opportunities in the third sector and working with trustees/committees mean you are more likely to have a greater input in the design process. 

 

 

 

 

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Just now, SteamyTea said:

Don't you run the risk of feeling you have to change things to justify your existence though.

 

How you you deal with a self builder that came to you with a design that was right?


I’ve had maybe 1-2 that I thought were a decent start, but I just think people don’t have the understanding to design a 3D object like a house. You have to think about the walls and stairs lining up, and that’s pretty rare if I’m honest. 
 

I’m happy to work with people and I don’t change things for the sake of it. If they are happy with a design they have done I give it to a technician to make it work instead.

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19 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:

How can I either persuade them not to build such monstrosities or feel better about contributing to the awful things they want to build?

 

This is particularly strong in the self build market, I just want to design people beautiful houses, but no one seems to want that, why? All they seem to want is a vanity project where they design their own houses with no design skill or knowledge. How can I improve things?

Hi Charlie.

 

I started out nearly four decades ago, cut my baby teeth on the contracting side and when I was about 40 went back to uni to get the qualifications and experience I needed to handle structural design, reason being that I could see a way where I could become a designer. I had got fed up building other folks ideas. For me I think design is holistic. You could equally start out as an Architect and become say an SE if you wanted to say perfect the art form of exposed structures or, you could specialise in other areas that say relate to environmental / civic structures, dams for example. I now make a living working for myself as a designer, mainly now in the domestic market. It's a great job.. I wear many hats but there are enough Clients out there that pay me for my offering.

 

For me one key (it has served me well) was to first recognise that the domestic market is very.. very much a people business. I have found that you need to spend a lot of time learning how to tease out what your Clients "need" as very often they have no idea what they do "need".. some have not actually sat down themselves and thought about.. how many kids are we going to have.. who is going to cut the grass, why do we want open plan when we need some quite space.. many many questions need to be asked.

 

There is so much information to gather before you even start on thinking about the design. In fact is easy to to fall into the trap as a designer where you think. ah.. that is the design in the first few minutes.. that is an indicator of poor design and trouble ahead.

 

Some Clients appear to have all the answers.. but you'll always find that just as in life folk can't think about it all. Some Clients are like this because they are nervous.. personality! It's up to you to understand this as it will serve you well later when evaluating how risk averse your Client may be.

 

For all we often call this Client requirements and these can be sub divided not least into "hard" and "soft". The domestic market is very much different from the commercial market where you are often dealing with other professionals or people that are used to say running their own business and want say an extra steel shed to expand.

 

Teasing out this information is a skill that takes time to perfect, you need to be able to build a rapport, sometimes you just can't so that is the time to walk away.. if you don't gell then the old expression is.. what is for you won't go by you. Once you get good at it then you can start to understand better what makes your Clients tick. Then it gets interesting as you start to think.. ok I am getting a feel for the Client's design boundaries, approach to risk and how they may think, the soft side.  What do I have in my design tool box that I can start to introduce.

 

What works for me is this. If you want to do great design that is of beauty, functional and is going to out last you then it all starts with the soft side and that first interaction with your Client. Before you start getting out the sketch pad ask the questions about how your Client lives just now.. empathise (takes time to learn)  and they will tell you the rest with a bit of prompting. That has value.. trust is build and if you fee is a little higher than a competitor.. you'll often get the brief anyway.

 

Charlie.. you mention vanity projects.. you are pushing at an open door here...

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3 hours ago, IanR said:

 

I'm not really sure who you think you are. From what you have said previously, you are an employee of someone else's Architectural practice - so what - does this make him less of a designer?

 

has an actual house yet been built that is your sole design, and not one that the partners have been consulted on - most partners gave up designing years ago to concentrate on bring the money in. Most partners I have experience of arrived late and left early but still picked up the fat cheque at the end of the month.

 

What makes you think you are the arbiter of what a "beautiful" house is? Isn't that for the person paying the bill and choosing to live in the house to decide. No - some people have more money than sense and wouldn’t know a good design if it arrived by post in a gift wrapped box.

 

House design is a compromise - not necessarily - designing is solving complex problems in relation to how we use our homes and buildings. Compromise means settling for less which good design should never do. A good designer will add value to your proposal and will help you see things from a different perspective.

 

and one that first and foremost has to be financially viable. That’s very true and probably the first sensible thing in this post.

 

  There's no point building a "pretty" house in suburbia if what makes it pretty knocks 30m² off the floor plan, a bedroom and £150K off the value.  For many plots "beautiful" is down the priority list, and rightly so. You can have both a “pretty” house and one which is as cheap if not cheaper to build and one which adds value and satisfies the brief.

 

You say you want to head out on your own and have the self build community finance your new business venture. However, you appear to have nothing but contempt for them. I don’t think it’s contempt - possibly a bit of exasperation and possibly frustration from posters who are so entrenched in their own “design” that the are unable or unwilling to take advice given to them for free in a public forum - advice I must say would cost a few quid in the real world.

 

A little humility, and listen to what the paying customer wants. The paying customer is throwing good money after bad if he or she doesn’t take the advice he or she is paying for - otherwise what’s the point. If you appoint an architect (a real one) you should expect the architect to use his or her design skills to bring something to the table. If you just want your “design” drawn up go to your local plan drawer. 

 

????

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6 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:

How can I either persuade them not to build such monstrosities or feel better about contributing to the awful things they want to build?

 

This is particularly strong in the self build market, I just want to design people beautiful houses, but no one seems to want that, why? All they seem to want is a vanity project where they design their own houses with no design skill or knowledge. How can I improve things?

I disagree. Great design is about achieving both function and form. We spent a lot of time with an architect explaining to him the gripes we had about our living space and taking him though our aspirations for our future home, and he designed something beautiful that ticks all of our functional requirements. We’ve also managed to use lots of almost artesanal, at times rustic, materials in our finishes which in combination with the modern aesthetic of our house, look really good. Gives it a wabi-sabi quality.

 To design beautiful houses that people actually want, you need to understand what it is they want from their house, and what type of interiors they like before you even start sketching. You may think interiors are very separate to the design of the overall house, but I think they are fairly closely linked.

Edited by Adsibob
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20 minutes ago, Adsibob said:

I disagree. Great design is about achieving both function and form. We spent a lot of time with an architect explaining to him the gripes we had about our living space and taking him though our aspirations for our future home, and he designed something beautiful that ticks all of our functional requirements. We’ve also managed to use lots of almost artesanal, at times rustic, materials in our finishes which in combination with the modern aesthetic of our house, look really good. Gives it a wabi-sabi quality.

 To design beautiful houses that people actually want, you need to understand what it is they want from their house, and what type of interiors they like before you even start sketching. You may think interiors are very separate to the design of the overall house, but I think they are fairly closely linked.


I wasn’t really saying ‘just beautiful’, I meant the whole thing really. 
 

I’d like people to do as you say there, just come to me with ideas and requirements. Not with a scaled plan they did themselves. These don’t usually have a good understanding of function or form either.

 

I don’t have a problem taking anything and turning it into a functional and nice looking house, but I can’t take a ready drawn plan.

 

If I get the chance to sketch, then it’s fine I can do that. Nobody seems to want to let me sketch things.

Edited by CharlieKLP
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23 minutes ago, ETC said:

 so what - does this make him less of a designer?

 

No, but it would explain what comes across as a lack of real world experience.

 

23 minutes ago, ETC said:

 No - some people have more money than sense and wouldn’t know a good design if it arrived by post in a gift wrapped box.

 

You sound like you share the same contempt that @CharlieKLP does. Just because someone does not value your input, it does not mean they are wrong.

 

23 minutes ago, ETC said:

House design is a compromise - not necessarily - designing is solving complex problems in relation to how we use our homes and buildings.

 

Compromise does not mean settling for something less than ideal. It just means balancing competing requirements to the client's priorities.

 

23 minutes ago, ETC said:

 I don’t think it’s contempt - possibly a bit of exasperation and possibly frustration

 

Unless you know @CharlieKLP personally, how would you? Comes across as contempt to me.

 

23 minutes ago, ETC said:

 posters who are so entrenched in their own “design” that the are unable or unwilling to take advice given to them for free

 

But if the free advice doesn't meet the posters requirement, you can't expect them to "take" it.

 

23 minutes ago, ETC said:

If you just want your “design” drawn up go to your local plan drawer.

 

Agreed.

Edited by IanR
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I don’t have contempt for anyone no. I’d just like to design nice houses for people, and I’m not sure why they don’t want that.

 

as for real world experience, I have indeed designed and built a lot of houses. Not sure why that’s relevant or why you want to question my professional experience, I think everyone would like to improve.

 

my question is how do I get people to value the input of a designer, or are you saying don’t bother.

Edited by CharlieKLP
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32 minutes ago, IanR said:

 

No, but it would explain what comes across as a lack of real world experience. Absolute rubbish.

 

You sound like you share the same contempt that @CharlieKLP does. Just because someone does not value your input, it does not mean they are wrong. I do not have contempt for anyone - if someone wants to pay me for professional advice and doesn’t take it I still get paid and it ends up in a “I told you so” conversation that costs more money in the long run.

 

Compromise does not mean settling for something less than ideal. Of course it does. By compromising something you are settling for something less that you originally wished for. It just means balancing competing requirements to the client's priorities. Huh?

 

Unless you know @CharlieKLP personally, how would you? Comes across as contempt to me. Don’t know him (could be a her) but I can understand the frustration when a client asks you to draw up his or her “design” rather than use your skills as an architect - if you want a plan drawn up hire a plan drawer not an architect.

 

But if the free advice doesn't meet the posters requirement, you can't expect them to "take" it. Only if they don’t know good advice.

 

 

Agreed.

 

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50 minutes ago, CharlieKLP said:

I don’t have contempt for anyone no. I’d just like to design nice houses for people, and I’m not sure why they don’t want that.

 

as for real world experience, I have indeed designed and built a lot of houses. Not sure why that’s relevant or why you want to question my professional experience, I think everyone would like to improve.

 

my question is how do I get people to value the input of a designer, or are you saying don’t bother.


I think they are saying that good design advice is only good when it’s what the poster wants to hear. Reminds me of that story - the one about the emperer and his new clothes?

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7 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:

 

I’d like people to do as you say there, just come to me with ideas and requirements. Not with a scaled plan they did themselves. These don’t usually have a good understanding of function or form either.


I may be the wrong person to comment here as I’ve got a 50:50 opinion on architects as I’ve come across good and bad in all walks (self build, domestic and commercial) and interestingly the ones I’ve seen biggest issues with are the ones dealing with the self build market ..! I had to nearly stand between an architect and a client during a full blown argument on site when the architect was shouting that moving a door on a landing “spoiled the aesthetic he has created” despite the client realising it created a horrendous dog leg into a bedroom which would have made it virtually impossible to get furniture in or out of the room… 
 

I’ve also had some great dealings with architects who give advice and explain the reasons why - sometimes you need the emotional intelligence and empathy to understand you’re designing someone’s dream, and possibly the most expensive thing they have ever commissioned so understanding that is key. They have much more invested in the design than just money. 

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52 minutes ago, PeterW said:

They have much more invested in the design than just money. 

Maybe that is the problem with some designers.  They need to be business people first and foremost.

If you want to be a creative architect with few restraints, teach the subject.  If your students don't produce what you want, you legitimately mark them down.

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15 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:

How can I either persuade them not to build such monstrosities or feel better about contributing to the awful things they want to build?

 

This is particularly strong in the self build market, I just want to design people beautiful houses, but no one seems to want that, why? All they seem to want is a vanity project where they design their own houses with no design skill or knowledge. How can I improve things?

I thought we went through all this before and it was decided that design is a combination of function and aesthetics. Designing 'beautiful' houses is just aesthetics and is therefore subjective. How a house functions is dependant upon the owners lifestyle and therefore something best decided by the owner. We designed our own house to include all the features that we wanted for ourselves and we also at the same time designed a PH. After living in it happily for three years we sold it and had no trouble in finding a buyer very quickly so it couldn't have been too bad a design. We didn't need anyone telling us what we need, we already knew what we wanted.

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5 minutes ago, Gone West said:

How a house functions is dependant upon the owners lifestyle and therefore something best decided by the owner

In reality, how different are peoples lifestyles.

Everyone I know does the same things at home as I do.  Not much variance.

I have owned 1 flat, 6 houses, lived in several others when younger.  Not of of them has changed my lifestyle, and I doubt that the people who lived there before, and after, had similar lifestyles in other places they have lived.

I one exception I will make is in ridiculously small places.  These should be banned. They take a lot more designing than a larger place.

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13 minutes ago, SteamyTea said:

In reality, how different are peoples lifestyles.

Quite a lot I should think. For example it seems to be common now for people to want a large living area that includes kitchen, dining and sitting space. I like separate rooms so in our new build we compromised and had a kitchen/diner and a completely separate sitting room. I also like verandahs so I put those into the new build design and Wendy wanted a balcony so we designed that in as well. That is the real advantage of a new build and if you know what you want you can do it yourself. I'm not saying everybody is able or wants to design their own house but to think it is solely the preserve of architects to design good houses is wrong. I have also built kit cars and rebuilt engines but I'm not a qualified mechanic but still did it successfully. Taking this arguement to the extreme no one should self build at all but employ an architect and then a builder to build a turnkey house.

Edited by Gone West
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2 minutes ago, Gone West said:

but to think it is solely the preserve of architects to design good houses is wrong.

Definitely, but not everyone can imagine what something will look like, I am lucky in that I can look at plans and see exactly what it will be like finished., I also designed/built a kitchen diner and separate lounge ? 

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33 minutes ago, Gone West said:

For example it seems to be common now for people to want a large living area that includes kitchen, dining and sitting space.

I am not so sure, isn't that more a case of what is offered, rather than what is wanted.  Back in the 80's and 90's, everyone was going to be single and live in a city.  So we now have empty flats in city centres now.  Designers designed places that had limited car parking, forgetting that cars were getting better and cheaper.

 

Also, not many people sleep in anything other that  bedroom (studio flats should be banned), most people cook in a kitchen, and watch TV, from a sofa, in a living room and bath in a bathroom.

Also, when viewing houses, one with furniture and one without seem very different.

 

Designing a house is not as critical as designing a ship or a space station.

If you want compact living, forget a house and get a motor home, they are marvels of design, usually terrible.

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12 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:

my question is how do I get people to value the input of a designer, or are you saying don’t bother.

i guess you could try focusing on "show don't tell". It's tricky though. People are often set in their ways and many aspects of design might be thought of as subjective, even though once people's own biases and experiences are filtered out, there is often an objectively better design when one compares two.

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18 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:


 

Do you think there’s any way I could persuade people to be more open to nicer design, like how you present the design or something like that. I sometimes think I don’t explain things well enough.

Depends what your idea of a "nicer" design is. I might think your nicer design is pants. You must design what your client asks for, it doesn't mean it is right or wrong, but it is what the client wants and the client will not build your ideal or dream house.

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40 minutes ago, Carrerahill said:

Depends what your idea of a "nicer" design is. I might think your nicer design is pants. You must design what your client asks for, it doesn't mean it is right or wrong, but it is what the client wants and the client will not build your ideal or dream house.


My idea would be to start from the brief and plot, and then you get the massing, style etc… that would usually result in a nicer house than a plan drawn by someone who didn’t know the scale and how to think of the elevations while drawing a plan. 
 

I know I have to draw what they ask for, but I’d rather they asked for what they wanted rather than designed it themselves. That’s the question here.

 

I’m not asking them to build my dream house, I’m asking them to let me design their dream house for them.

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