Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Designer vs. Homeowner

One day, sitting in the office playing solitaire, we were rudely interrupted by the phone ringing.  On the other end is a potential client who absolutely loves one of our plans and would like us to make a few minor modifications.  Since they live 15 minutes away, we are willing to take a look.  Generally we don't offer this service for out of towners because of the distance gap.  Strangely, communication gaps grow exponentially to distance gaps.  But being close by means we can meet in person and see the hand gestures that generally accommodate limited similar vocabularies.

We offer to meet the potential client at a local coffee shop, buy them a drink, and go over their ideas.

When we arrive we are hesitantly surprised to meet the client (a couple) and a mother of one of them.  Also in attendance is a friend or college roommate, or maybe it was a friend's college roommate.  In any event, they are the interior designer.

Things look stickier than raw honey already.

Also in attendance is a 3" notebook that appears to be full of photos, design ideas, and several copies of our plan with different colors of ink all across them.  After introductions are made, the first plan comes out.

"We thought about taking this one, removing the windows from the obvious locations, and putting in weirdly sized windows where they don't make sense.  Over here, we'd like to remove this entire bearing wall and not have any posts in the way.  The idea on this one was to expand the second floor by 800sf without touching the first floor.  How much can we cantilever?"

The mother-in-law chimes in about her room.  We end up arguing with the interior designer who knows nothing about shear and load-bearing.  Finally we say we'll make some adjustments and see how it goes.  Everybody leaves pretty sure that the job is not going to happen.  We're out about $12.

An open letter to potential homeowners:

Dear potential homeowner;

Thank you for choosing an Istockhouseplans design.  We are pleased that we could design a plan that meets your exacting eye for beauty and function.  However, if you would like some changes to the plan, we suggest a quiet meeting with just you and us so that we can figure out your basic needs.  If we end up spending more time modifying the plan than we did designing and drawing it, you're probably better off having a custom home designed from the start.  Please consider a design from scratch that uses one of our plans as inspiration.  We tend to be very strict about the homes we design and sell.  If your plan ends up being a 3 story neo-modern with a 4 car attached garage, we can recommend a couple of other designers that could help you out.  Having us design that style of house is akin to getting a taco at McDonald's.  It won't be what you expect and we will struggle to make it happen.

Thank you


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