A beautifully tailored home
Advice from Dion Seminara, Principal Architect, dion seminara architecture
If you’ve ever worn tailored clothes you will know exactly what it feels like to have something that’s made exclusively for YOU.
Tailored suits, shirts, blouses and skirts all sit perfectly. They are easy to wear because they work with you rather than restricting your movement. They don’t creep up, bunch up or cut in. They are simply delightful. You feel amazing when you put them on.
A home that has been tailored to your specific needs is just like beautifully tailored clothing. Sure you don’t wear it, but homes that haven’t been specifically designed for you can be just as uncomfortable as wearing an ill-fitting garment. They can hinder your movement, cramp your style and force you into unnecessary compromises. Existing in these spaces is a chore, not the delightful pleasure that a new home or renovation should be.
Off the shelf vs. custom built
So you’re about to build a new home or renovate an existing one. But what should your home design look like? What features should it include? What should be avoided?
Well, the answer to all these questions and more is ‘It depends’. And what it depends on is you and your lifestyle. Exactly how your home should be designed depends on how you want to live in it and what you want out of it.
Now it’s very unlikely that any massed produced, ‘straight off the plans’ home has been designed specifically with your requirements in mind, and each renovation is obviously different. So to get the perfect home for you, you need to have it professionally designed.
I have previously covered the challenges with building designers and draftspeople so not counting them that leaves architects. But does going to an architect guarantee you a custom designed home? Well, sadly it doesn’t.
Not all architects are skilled designers and many unfortunately rehash their previous designs for new clients rather than custom designing something that will perfectly suit their client’s needs.
Sorry, but I can’t stand that sort of thing. I have been in this industry for 29 years, spending 20 of those in private practice designing homes from scratch and never have I felt that close enough is good enough. The home needs to be designed to suit the owner’s needs, not simply have an old plan adapted to something that will fit on the block.
Something old for something new, but something borrowed not something blueprinted
Now let me be clear, I’m not saying that an architect shouldn’t open up his previous successful projects and consider them in relation to a new project he is about to undertake. But what I am saying is that he shouldn’t copy his earlier project exactly and try to make it work for his new client.
Real design skill allows for elements of earlier projects to be used, but as a whole, that earlier project should be used as inspiration rather than as an exact template and even if the client LOVES the earlier design.
Yes, you read that correctly, even if the client says ‘I LOVE that home you designed on such and such a street, I want you to build me one just like it’.
So why am I saying this? Well here’s the thing. If you went to a tailor and said ‘I love that suit you designed for my business partner, I want you to make one EXACTLY like it’ what do you think the tailor would do? Would they pull out the measurements they took of you business partner and start cutting the fabric or would they insist on measuring you up instead?
A skilled architect who truly cares about your needs rather than their profit margins would insist on getting to know more about you and your lifestyle before they started copying an earlier design.
But many don’t. Simply put it’s quicker for them to rehash an earlier design than it is to tailor a design specifically for you and when time is money many architects, unfortunately, choose the quick and easy route to their client’s detriment.
Ever wonder why some architects are cheaper than others? Well, now you know. It’s because they reuse someone else’s design instead of giving you the perfect home for you.
So my recommendation is to go with the tailored option. It might be OK to buy clothes straight off the rack, but when it comes to an investment in your home, rehashed or ‘off the rack’ designs have an uncomfortable way of creeping up and pinching you in all the wrong places.