Good residential architects design nice houses for their clients. Great residential architects listen to their clients first, then design wonderful houses for them.
Rand Soellner Architect starts every project with what he calls the “Programming.” As the word implies, this begins by Mr. Soellner asking you: “What do you want?”
Soellner takes notes, listens carefully, asks an occasional question, then documents the discussion in written form, usually in an e-mail to the client. When the client receives the Programming, he and/or she is welcome to make comments, typed right into the Programming and send it back to the architect.
Soellner reviews what you have written, might make a few more comments and then sends it back to you. This cyclical process continues, until the program is in its completed form.
What is included in a program? Several typical subjects might be the following:
– BEDROOMS/BATHS: Number of Bedrooms and Bathrooms desired.
– SIZE: Approximate total Heated Square Feet (HSF)
– GARAGE: If you want a garage, how many car parking bay spaces? Workshop? How elaborate? Storage shelving along the available walls? Access to outside trash can parking? Any special electrical requirements? Electric charging requirements for an electric car? Golf cart? ATVs?
– PORTE-COCHERE: do you want an additional outdoor covered parking area (commonly called a “carport”, but more interesting, and possibly at the front door? For how many cars?
– STARTING POINT DESIGN: Basing the design on an existing design that Soellner is modifying and customizing for you? Which one of Soellner’s many designs appeals to you as a starting point?
– STYLE: Any particular “style”?
– ELECTRICAL NEEDS: anything special in the way of power needs?
– ROOFING: Any particular materials appeal to you? Cost implications of this decision.
– FLOORING: many people want wall to wall wood flooring. How about you? Species? Cost implications.
– COST: do you have a particular construction cost that you have in mind? Discussion of what this is likely to buy for you and implications for your wish list as compared to the cost/HSF.
– OUTSIDE LIVING AREAS: want a nice covered and screened back porch where you can enjoy your view and stay clean and dry? How about a Summer Kitchen back there? And a welcoming Front Porch? How many people would you like to accommodate on the rear porch? Materials?
– KITCHEN: large, medium or small? Large central island? 30″, 36″, 42″, 48″ or 60″ wide range/oven? Make a major feature of the cooking area or not? Cabinetry preferences? One or two cold boxes? Widths? One, two or more sinks and locations. One or more dishwashers and refuse containers in cabinetry. Pet feeding built-in areas (something Soellner’s clients seem to appreciate). Windows. Openness to the other main living areas. Number of people you would like to accommodate at one time during meal preparation. Utilities.
– MASTER BEDROOM: king bed or California king? Nightstands and circulation space. Access to outdoor living area, possibly even a Sleeping Porch (one of Soellner’s historic references that clients seem to enjoy)! Fireplace? TV (popup or on display)? Dressers? Makeup/grooming vanity for her? Shelving?
– MASTER CLOSETS/DRESSING: one larger, or separate His & Hers? Implications for size of house. Shoe stacker shelving for all those shoes! Center dresser island? Want a coffee maker in there and a flat screen TV? Exercise equipment/area? This can be as simple or elaborate as your imagination and budget allows.
– MASTER BATHROOM: large, medium or small? Separate toilet room? Fancy toilet with all the bells and whistles or simple normal toilet (yes, there are a whole range of toilets these days, some with hot water cleansing, automatic lid raising from motion sensors, auto-flush and much more!). Garden tub? Whirlpool? One larger vanity with 2 sinks, or separate His & Her vanities? One person or 2-person shower? Soellner often designs his clients’ showers to accommodate future possible wheelchairs so they can continue to enjoy their homes for as long as they live and not have to go anywhere else unless they want to do so.
– AND MUCH MORE…
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When the program is complete, Rand Soellner then asks you your permission to allow him to proceed into the next phase: Schematic Design. But that’s a subject for another article.