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Topic: AIA CRAN please respond to this directly to the NAHB 

1.  AIA CRAN please respond to this directly to the NAHB

Posted 12-19-2012 18:39
First, know that I am offended by the list in the first place however, I am/we are problem solvers.  So let's go to bat for the home builders that are wasting money.  By being a team member maybe we can all be more effective and positive.  This link is to a list from the NAHB's The Cost of Doing Business Study, 2012 ed. of "25 Proven Ways to Control and Reduce Direct Construction Costs" of which almost half are items we like to take care.

So my only question is this:  Will AIA CRAN please address a response to the NAHB so that we can work together to help save them money and keep us employed?


Thanks very much.
Catherine Smith AIA
Catherine Smith Architect, LLC
Greenville SC

2.  RE:AIA CRAN please respond to this directly to the NAHB

Posted 12-20-2012 07:03
The very reason builders hire me to design unique spec houses for each lot is reflected in #3 and #7 on the list:

#3 Design and specify each home for the target customer.#7 Redesign or eliminate plans that generate low gross profits. Unfortunately, most builders try to accomplish these goals by adjusting the same old same old plan rather than finding a good Architect that can provide affordable services to provide the basic Architectural Design without all the extras. Believe it or not many builders are actually really good at sourcing finishes, equipment, and accessories. When building at spec, it is essential that they have control over selecting these items as every penny must be well spent. Our role in this type of work is to provide the broad brush strokes so they can produce the design concept for an affordable price and make a profit. The problem is us! We can't trust them to build a building without us micromanaging the entire process. There is a huge difference between a house for a millionaire homeowner with a three party contract and a spec house for the average person where the contract is just between you and the builder. As long as we continue to turn our noses up to the reality of the most numerous of all building types in America (the spec house) we will continue to marginalize ourselves and sink into irrelevance. I'm sure many of you are sick of me posting the numbers, but think about it it...
US Census 2006
1.3 MILLION  Speculative Houses
320,000 Homeowner Commissioned Houses (most built from stock plans, not custom designed by Architects)
170,000 Commercial Buildings

We aren't being disrespected by home shows, homeowners, or builders. We are barely participating in the housing industry by choice when you look at the big picture. When you look at the numbers, we're probably getting more air time and respect than we deserve considering our participation. Some of us do design spec houses, but we need to figure out a way to get more involved. If we were to have a serious influence in society, we would be designing more spec houses than any other building type and we simply are not doing this. We need to quit turning our noses up to this type of work and figure out how to get involved. 60% of my work consists of designing unique, one time only spec houses and they typically sell for more and sell faster. This is valuable to builders and they come to me for this very reason. They want winning designs! They would be willing to pay for a good design if they knew the Architect had a consistent sales history. That's value in terms of real dollars. I'm not the most talented of us and I know more of us could achieve the same sales results I have. It's like shooting fish in a barrel, so what are you waiting for??? The housing industry is reinventing itself right now, do you want to be part of it or do you want to continue doing the same thing expecting different results this time?

Eric Rawlings AIA
Rawlings Design, Inc.
Decatur GA

3.  RE:AIA CRAN please respond to this directly to the NAHB

Posted 12-20-2012 08:41
Catherine, interesting list! What I like are items #2 and #3.

- Improve working drawings.

- Design and specify each home for the target customer

I interpret both of those as pointing to architects who would hopefully have better working drawings than a draftsman and would certainly fit the designing each home for the customer. So if you and/or a volunteer architect from CRAN contact them, I would point out those two items. 

And then ideally we would point them to a link on the AIA web site where they could easily find a residential architect in their area.

Happy Holidays to all!

Debra Rucker Coleman, AIA
Sun Plans Inc.
Mobile, AL