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News > 2023 Home Tours > Sustainability in Mind | A Homeowner's Perspective on Hiring an Architect

Sustainability in Mind | A Homeowner's Perspective on Hiring an Architect

Being a homeowner contemplating the decision to hire an architect unveils a series of pivotal questions that underscore the benefit of collaboration. With our upcoming Home Tours | by local Architects, we would like to educate the public on the value of architecture. Check out these personal questions answered by a homeowner who hired an architect.

How or why did you decide to hire an architect and what were your initial expectations before starting the project? 

We’ve always had strong opinions on what makes a good rowhouse. We needed someone who either shared our strong feelings or could accommodate them and didn’t just offer us boilerplate options intended to maximize the value of our lot. Those kinds of places are so deadening to this city. We also wanted to be as sustainable as financially possible with little idea of the most efficient ways to do so. In general, we strongly felt that new buildings should be undertaken thoughtfully and that the greenest buildings are the ones that stand the test of time, so design was a high priority for us.  

How well did the architect incorporate your preferences and lifestyle needs into the project? 

We were lucky to find an architect who matched our values completely in Bright Common. Jeremy has become a friend, and we’ve had lively discussions ranging from post modern aesthetics to the best insulation to Japanese minivans and beyond.  

As an artist particularly interested in facades, I wanted to have a hand in what ours looked like. I can imagine so many scenarios where homeowner involvement like this could go terribly wrong but in this case the collaboration became one of the most successful parts of the project. Where I would run into a wall in my thinking, Jeremy would open up new possibilities, ultimately coming up with the brilliant idea of angling part of the facade wall to honor the spirit of a third floor setback. As a result, the building successfully navigates a common design challenge; how to add a third floor without dominating shorter neighbors (or looking like you’ve just added a hat!) 

What was a challenge while working on the project and how did you and the architect collaborate for a solution?  

Doing anything novel can be tricky in an industry built for streamlining. When we selected an ERV (energy recovery ventilator) for the project we didn’t realize how challenging it would be to fit into the design. We had a similar challenge with HVAC ductwork. Challenges will always come up but having extra brains available to troubleshoot is invaluable. In both cases the builder, architect and ourselves figured it out together. Plus we ended up with a handsome curved ceiling in the half-bath as a result of one of these challenges, so it was ultimately a win. 


Check out more about the upcoming Home Tours (Oct. 14-15) and register here:

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