The most basic question for an Architect

How much?

Yet again, I am working a booth at the SVBA Home Show. The typical characters are at the event, kicking tires, shaking hands, picking up free pens that they will add to their drawer of other free pens. I am the only designer at the show this year, a welcome change from past years. I get the show to myself to talk about the power of design and how I save my clients money. I have had conversations about vapor barriers, HVAC Efficiency, roofing, windows, talked with several young aspiring architects about their homework assignment to design a house. It has been a great event.

I do wish more people would ask me questions about how to make their homes more energy efficient. The reality is I love talking about building science and it is why I do the home show. The first steps usually will save about 10% on your electric bills per month and will cost under $50. Those that are interested in design try to figure out if I would be the right architect for their project looking for questions that will give them some assurance that I am competent. We talk about wall systems, universal design, and number of bedrooms. However, it always seems to boil down to “so how much do you charge.” This is an impossible question to answer without more information and multiple conversations: how many changes will you make, how big do you want your house, how complicated will the structural design become because of added corners and angles? We talk through the process and the folks truly interested call me and we work through the establishment of scope of work so I can give them a budget. I keep wondering if there is a better way, but really my work comes down to multiple conversations and interpretations of others words, pictures, and dreams. It is a fun process, I love what I do, I love talking with people about their dreams and goals, but the how much cost question seems to always be the most basic question to answer. It is the first step that some stumble over in the process of building trust. I wonder though if we could start our conversation with a better question. How much can I save you through the process – because I know the answer to that and you will be surprised!

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