#Architalks: Advice for Clients

Usonion House - Lakeland FL - FLW

Usonion House – Lakeland FL – FLW

The physician can bury his mistakes,—but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines.

~Frank Lloyd Wright – ‘To the Young Man in Architecture’

This month’s topic of discussion for #Architalks is ‘Advice for Clients.’ Unlike the pithy suggestion from Mr. Wright, I have something of a different bit of advice that I provide to all my clients:

Think longer term.

There is a tendency when pressed against construction timelines, finish decisions, and all the real world realities of a construction project (especially a single family residence) to focus on two things: time and money. Both of which are obviously of critical importance, but I’d suggest that we look at them both  in a slightly different light.

Florida Southern College - FLW

Florida Southern College – FLW


Yes the project needs to be complete, usable, and in a timely fashion so the client can move in. In the latter stages of a project, the finish line is often the only thing that’s really on a client’s mind. When can I get in, when can we close on the loan, when will I have my building. It’s of the utmost important when focusing on the near-term timeline, a client not neglect the long term. Think about what it will take to maintain the house, choose long lasting and durable materials. Think about how long you’ll be in the house, make decisions for not just your life today, but looking forward five years, ten years, and beyond. Think about what will happen to the house when you sell it, or your children inherit it. Cut corners may get you ‘in the building’ sooner, but inevitably, always, will lead to problems down the road.

Crumbling Concrete Block at Florida Southern College

Crumbling Concrete Block at Florida Southern College


I have an idea on how we can save money here. Being on budget is just as important as being complete on time, without a doubt, but at what cost? The project we’ve designed together was arrived at through careful consideration by both architect and client. Cutting things or making substitutions of alternatives, without the same careful consideration, in the aims of saving money, often hurts in the long run, and leaves a client with a thirty year amortized structure that is not what they intended, incomplete, or diluted. Consider the longer particularly about durable materials and anything related to energy efficiency. The payback on upgrades related to the building envelope and energy efficiency, especially when amortized over 30 years, are easy decisions. Often resulting in a net-positive versus the ‘cheaper’ alternative from day one.

Planting vines may be an option to cover up bad decisions down the road, but thinking long term throughout both the design and construction process can result in a beautiful, longer-lasting structure that you and your family will enjoy for years to come.

Spanish Moss at Florida Southern College "Vines"

Spanish Moss at Florida Southern College “Vines”

More thoughts and advice for clients can be find at the posts from the rest of our merry band of #Architalks misfits below:


Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: Advice for Working with an Architect

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Advice for ALL Clients

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
advice to clients

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Advice for Clients

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Trust Your Architect


Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Advice List — From K thru Architect

Rosa Sheng – EquitybyDesign [EQxD] (@EquityxDesign)

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
advice for clients


Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A Few Reminders


Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
[tattoos] and [architecture]


Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Changing the World

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Advice for Clients


Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Questions to Ask an Architect in an Interview: Advice for Clients

Samantha R. Markham – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Dear Client,

Kyu Young Kim – J&K Atelier (@sokokyu)
Advice for Clients

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Advice for clients

Rusty Long – Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong) *Yes that’s me, you’re already here
Advice for Clients

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Advice 4 Building


Gabriela Baierle-Atwood – Gabriela Baierle-Atwood (@gabrielabaierle)
What I wish clients knew

Posted in ArchiTalks, Architecture | 1 Response

Architalks: Architecture of Change

US / Mexico Border Fence - Arizona

US / Mexico Border Fence – Arizona

Where will our profession be in five years? Ten? Twenty? Read More »

Posted in ArchiTalks, Architecture | 1 Response

House, or Home?

South Elevation

The Dabbs Residence – Holly Springs, NC

Language is important. Especially in today’s political climate, social climate, and constantly moving digital world. So before delving into this month’s #Architalks topic “House or Home”, I thought I’d go straight to the dictionary:

Definition of house
plural houses
1 : a building that serves as living quarters for one or a few families : home invited them to her house for dinner a two-family house

Definition of home
1 a : one’s place of residence : domicile has been away from home for two weeks a place to call home
b : house several homes for sale in the area
2 : the social unit formed by a family living together trying to make a good home for her children comes from a broken home

The words, contrary to what a typical tract ‘homebuilder’ might seem to imply, are not interchangeable. When I design a building for people to live within, it’s a house, but what I strive is to help my clients create a home. The design of a new place to live for a family is a collaborative one between designer and client. I try to stress this from the beginning, I’m here to help you realize your dream home. The story behind the house I design, that’s what makes it a home.

I believe what makes a house a home are the people that inhabit it. The dwelling that takes place in it. The dreams realized within it. The memories that are made within it. And ultimately the lives that are lived within it.

An unbuilt house, was designed on paper, but a structure that was simply never constructed.

But what about an unbuilt home?

Rear Exterior View

The Heisler Residence (unbuilt)

If you’re interested reading more about ‘house or home’ from my other Architalks contributing friends, find their thoughts below.

Read More »

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Dear future architects, never lose your optimism

Dear future architects,

Architecture is an inherently optimistic profession. The very act of designing and building requires hope, it needs it. We need it.

If you’re just entering the profession, there are a lot of opportunities for disappointment ahead, I ask that you take them in stride. Don’t give up the good fight.

The Heisler Residence - Unbuilt 2011

The Heisler Residence – Unbuilt 2011

Read More »

Posted in ArchiTalks | Tagged ArchiTalks, Architecture, friendship, humor, inspiration, optimism | 3 Responses

#Architalks: Architecture and Children

Drafting board with T-Square

Tools of the Trade

When did you realize you wanted to be an architect?

It’s a question lots of folks ask, and I remember with clarity making that decision at twelve years old. It happened in class. Specifically in an elective, ‘Mechanical Drawing.’ We learned the fundamentals of plan, section, and elevation. Given a three dimensional object, draw it to scale on paper using a pencil, a t-square and a triangle. The class eventually moved up to drawing a full house floor plan complete with dimensions, door and window tags, and notes.

Computer Aided Drafting


Flash forward a little over two decades and while the tools have changed, the work itself, and that enthusiasm remains. There is something about thinking through, solving three dimensional problems in your mind and on paper that is uniquely rewarding. Then seeing that result in steel and concrete, walking through that space you imagined, sketched, and created on paper there in real space… It’s pretty fantastic.



Now that I’m a father, and I talk to my daughters about what I do, and what they want to do, I take that dialog seriously. Even at four and six years old, their individual skill-sets, strengths and weaknesses as designers, and even a sense of style come through. One is all about symmetry, the other … is not.

Daddy's little deconstructivist

Daddy’s little deconstructivist

I don’t know if either of my daughters will decide to be an architect, but I’m confident that if they do, they’ll be great at it.

Check out more #Architalks at the links below:

Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Architecture and Photography

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Architecture and a Future Without Architects

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
architecture and __

Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)

Evan Troxel – Archispeak Podcast / TRXL (@etroxel)

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Architecture and Travel

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Architecture and Storytelling

Cormac Phalen – Cormac Phalen (@archy_type)

Nicholas Renard – dig Architecture (@dig-arch)

Andrew Hawkins, AIA – Hawkins Architecture, Inc. (@hawkinsarch)

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)

Jes Stafford – MODwelling (@modarchitect)
Architecture and Gaming

Cindy Black – Rick & Cindy Black Architects (*)

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
architecture and m&ms

Rosa Sheng – EquitybyDesign [EQxD] (@EquityxDesign)
Architecture And the Era of Connection

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#ArchiTalks 18: architecture and… the bigger picture

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks 18: Architecture and Mathematics

Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
Architalks 18: Architecture and … Parenting

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
Architecture and Yoga

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Architecture and Ego

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Architecture and Ego / The Architect’s Unique Struggle with ‘Good’ Design

Jonathan Brown – Proto-Architecture (@mondo_tiki_man)

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
Architecture and Kids

Brinn Miracle – Architangent (@simplybrinn)

David Molinaro – Relax2dmax (@relax2dmax)

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Architecture and More

Daniel Beck – The Architect’s Checklist (@archchecklist)

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Architecture and the Myth of the Master Builder

Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@anth_rich)

Lindsey Rhoden – SPARC Design (@sparcdesignpc)

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
Architecture and Real Estate


Courtney Casburn Brett – Casburn Brett (@CasburnBrett)

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Architecture and Interior Design

Aaron Bowman – Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)

Samantha Raburn – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Architecture and Wrestling

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)

Nisha Kandiah – TCDS (@SKRIBBLES_INC)

Karen E. Williams – (@karenewilliams3)

Jared W. Smith – Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)

Rusty Long – Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
Architecture and Children

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Architecture + Memories

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Architecture + Memories

Adam Denais – Defragging Architecture (@DefragArch)
[#ArchiTalks 18] Architecture and Strange Travel Etiquette

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Architecture and…my Generation.

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