Make clients care about good design

I’ve noticed a common belief among some readers of Residential Design & Build that homeowners don’t appreciate the value of good design, and therefore they don’t value an architect’s services or taking time to immerse themselves in the design evolution process. The people who share this opinion are upset about it, and don't want to take it anymore. One builder told me he can't stand clients who use $50 home design software then bring in their plans and ask him to ask his architect to “draw it up.†The people have no idea about the value an architect and good design principles can add to their home. They’re missing out on the process of design evolution which involves the back and forth between builder, designer and client. THey can have so much more if they only understood what they're missing. Of course we can’t paint with a broad brush here because it’s clear a number of clients get it. If they didn’t, you wouldn’t see the magnificent homes, for example, that are featured in our annual Excellence Awards program. What do you do with clients who don’t get it, who want value but don’t want to pay for it? Do you tell them to take a hike down the road to someone else who also doesn’t care about good design? Do you try to educate them and invest time in building or salvaging a relationship and possibly a project? Does your answer to these questions change depending on the market conditions? Is there a time when it’s OK to compromise on design in the spirit of self preservation? I say yes there is, because compromising doesn’t mean giving up. Those of you in healthy personal relationships know yours was built by compromising, not by abandoning your beliefs and selling out in the pursuit of happiness. The same approach applies to the design process. Of course some people give up and give in, but they’re not happy, and their relationships aren’t built to last. But I’m getting off track here… Who’s responsibility is it to educate clients who don’t understand the value of good design? I take a small portion of that responsibility, and do my best through Residential Design & Build to provide examples from all over the country that illustrate not only the value of architect, builder and client working together from day one, but also the value of good design and how an architect’s involvement can solve any challenge a project might present. Then you can take these examples, learn from them and hopefully share your knowledge with clients. Thanks to media networks such as HGTV, home design has permeated the collective consciousness of U.S. homeowners. Let’s not get into the quality of home design TV shows and if they’re actually helping or harming our efforts. Instead, take advantage of the opportunity these shows provide to start a conversation about the value of good design. Make comparisons between what clients see on TV and what you can do. Point out where you see the value, and where you don't. You’re on the front lines; fight the good fight. Make clients care about good design.

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