Why you shouldn’t hire an experienced residential architect or designer

Building a green home is serious business. It’s complicated, it’s expensive, and the implications for getting it wrong are tremendous. It may be a good idea to get some help figuring all this stuff out; then again, it may not be necessary if:

  1. You are an experienced green builder.
    2. You are an experienced green builder who doesn’t mind figuring all this stuff out. Many builders just want to build and prefer having someone else bird-dog the design.
    3. You are building a spec house (you still might want to get some help).
    4. Someone else is going to pay the utilities.
    5. Your property is flat (the cost associated with poorly conceived site planning could easily pay for a well reconciled design. “Pound to Fit” is expensive and inelegant).
    6. Your canned plan fits your property.
    7. You’re not concerned about free passive winter heat gain.
    8. You’re not concerned about over-heating in the summer due to poorly conceived window placement and overhang design.
    9. You know what directionally tuned glazing is.
    10. You understand the relationship between Manuel J and your thermal envelope.
    11. You know what comprises your thermal envelope.
    12. Your canned plan has no wasted space (corridors anyone? A design 10% smaller than a standard canned plan will pay for itself several times over in less first cost and less operational costs).
    13. Your windows are positioned to frame desirable sight views.
    14. Your windows are positioned to crop undesirable sight lines.
    15. You are not concerned about the Indoor Air Quality issues of your attached garage.
    16. You know your furniture is going to fit.
    17. You know what sort of mechanical system you are going to use.
    18. You have your ERV figured out.
    19. You know what ACU/hour at 50 Pascals means.
    20. You are not interested in achieving Net Zero energy use.
    21. You know what sort of roof is best suited for rain-water harvesting and photovoltaic installation.
    22. You know what kind of conduit to install for future pv (learned this one the hard way!)
    23. You are not interesting in specifying materials that keep your money in the local and regional economy.
    24. You do not mind having a wood-stove or wood burning fireplace burn up your expensive heated indoor air.
    25. You know what kind of windows seal the tightest.
    26. You know what sort of foundation is best suited to your site and budget.
    27. You know what sort of structural spanning system is best suited to your spans, your mechanical system, and your plumbing system.
    28. You understand NC Greenbuilt (or have no interest in it’s many benefits).
    29. You are not interested in resale appreciation or time on the market.
    30. You know what your WRB is and understand the relationship between it and your window flanges.

And the final reason you shouldn’t hire an experienced residential architect or designer.

Your last suit of dress clothes came from K-Mart and they fit just fine.

Your new building is going to cost a great deal of money whether it’s done right or not. Why not try to hedge against the many downsides and leverage the countless possibilities.

Steve Farrell

The views expressed on the WNC Green Blog Collective are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the WNC Green Building Council.   Disagree?   Please comment or provide a rebuttal.