Designer's Profile & Design Firm's Mission
Leigh Douglas Johnson, Custom Home Designer
Notes on choosing between an
Architect, Designer/Builder, or Custom Home Designer
When seeking a professional to provide the design for a new home, home remodel, or restoration of an older home, you may choose between contractors, draftspersons, design/builders, residential/home designers, and architects. There is a wide range of public opinion on this choice. Some think that they will save money and time by going straight to the draftsperson or builder while others think that only an architect is able to design a high quality home. After 40 years working in all aspects of this field and in all these professions, I have formed some educated opinions. I believe that contractors should only build, as it is what they are best at; that draftspersons should stick to drafting of construction plans; that design/builders know building and may have some ability in home design; but that because residential designers focus entirely on the design of homes, they produce the best design results for the home owner. It is however important that the designer have a real, in depth understanding of the construction part of the business. I am a home designer with many years of experience as a design/builder and have always drafted my designs. In my practice, the goal is always to place the client's interests first to achive the unique home that will enhance their own personal life choices to the maximum. I do this with a solid understanding of construction and so I produce accurate and complete construction plans that make the builder's job easier. The main point I wish to make is that those professionals who have the comprehensive knowledge of the master builder aka designer/builder, the vision of the artist, and the attention to detail of the craftsman are the best choice as the designer for a high quality, custom home with fully integrated design.
The Master Builder and the Architect
The combined profession of builder and designer comes out of the ancient tradition of the master builders, who have been able to understand and carry a building project from the initial conception on through to the final finishing details. In ancient days, the master builders produced the great cathedrals of Europe as well as civic and private buildings. This was before the advent of the architectural profession. The segregation of design and construction has come about, in large part, as a result of the development of the architectural profession. Many architects design homes, though it seems that most do so only occasionally, preferring higher profit, higher profile commercial building design. Although the architectural profession has taken over the design responsibilites for large buildings, there does still exist today such master builders. Today, it seems that the architectural organization wishes to claim all rights to the business of building design. They have succeeded in the arena of commercial architecture. One big problem is that the overwhelming majority of architects are academically trained with little or no real exposure to the construction end of the process, therefore most have no practical hands-on knowledge of the actual building. They are therefore handicaped by this partial knowledge of the process. When it comes to single family home design, despite the opinions of some, architects certainly do not have the exclusive ability to do a fine job of designing and detailing a wonderful, practical, and affordable home. In fact, many architects, when designing a home only personally design the exterior form of the home, leaving the functionality and the interior design to a residential designer or draftsman in their employ.
My statements are my opinions and also general statements and so there may be exceptions to them.
But whomever one chooses to design their home, if they wish it to be all that it can be, that person should at least have these abilities.
• to listen carefully and respond creatively to the desires of their client
• to understand and guide them smoothly through the process
• to conceive a delightful and practical environment which will enhance their lives
• the understand the whole process, from conception to turn key
• to deliver the high quality plans that will allow the construction process to go smoothly....
and it is this full service and quality of care which we provide.
Method Statement from Leigh Douglas Johnson
Our intent is to be as a tool in the hands of our clients, or as a guide through an intricate maze of choices. This requires us to be flexible in terms of how we respond to our clients desires and needs. Some of our clients wish to have a large degree of direct input and influence in the design process. Others wish to allow us more freedom to create for them. In any case, we endeavor to understand our clients in terms of their tastes, needs, desires and style of living. We listen carefully and respond creatively and promptly to our clients requests. Unlike many architects, we do not promote our own design agenda, but work to realize the desires of our clients. Whatever the specific desires of each client, we call on many years of professional experience and aesthetic judgment to delight, advise, and guide our clients in their choices.
Our practical understanding of the realities of home construction and finishing comes from well over two decades in the construction of our own designs. Although no longer involved in construction, we may be engaged with partial or full oversight responsibilities during the construction of the house. Also, it should be noted that we produce highly documented and very buildable designs that are presented clearly, completely, and accurately in construction plans that building departments and builders appreciate.
Our willingness and ability to respond to our clients wishes, as well as our experience with a wide range of architectural styles and the range of climatic and regional influences within which we work, give us the ability to satisfy the varying programs presented by our clients. Our complete construction plans are designed with the builder in mind. Our home design plans provide builders with all the information they need to avoid costly errors and misunderstandings that all too often occur due to the lack of detailed information.
Our home design work is done by hand at the drafting board. Upon request, the finished plans may be coverted into digital form for integration into the builder's project management software. Just like building a hand-crafted piece of furniture or cabinets for your home, our designs and plans offer the superior quality of being hand-crafted yet provided at a reasonable price. We take pride in each design as well as in the construction plans, resulting in our greatest rewards which come form the praise we receive from our clients as well as builders who work from our plans.
Leigh Douglas Johnson