Popping the Bubble is about this architectural firm informing clients of the realities of their project early. There are other Architects who say emphatically that they do not want to “pop the bubble” of their clients’ dream: about what they can accomplish, usually for the budget they’d like to spend.
Photo by Gonz DDL from Unsplash.
However, this Architectural firm that is writing this online article believes that is dishonest and worse than a disservice to the client. It is misleading through lack of action. Approval of bad information tacitly. And that doesn’t set right with them. It takes more guts to be honest sometimes than to allow the client to continue to believe the impossible. And matters of importance like this should be discussed early in the project, not allow the client to delude themselves.
Why: because the longer you wait, the bigger the bubble becomes. The delusion of building that amazing custom mountain house for a mere $100/square foot starts having crazy things added like 4 car garages and giant porches and firepits and more. You simply can’t stretch a budget that far.
And when someone (perhaps the Builder) finally tells them months later that their dream bubble is nowhere near realistic, the clients are going to react badly and scream: “Why didn’t you tell me?”
So: it is really one of the Architect’s first responsibilities to inform the clients about the reality of their goals and yes, if necessary, pop that bubble.
Photo by Aleks Dahlberg from Unsplash.
That is not being cruel. That is being realistic and correcting the misdirection of the project early, to avoid wasted effort.
And once the bubble is popped, the true possibilities become visible.
And designing and building a new custom house for people is all about seeing the truth as early as possible. From the truth comes reality. Realistic goals that are attainable.
And from realistic goals, great design comes.
Design that satisfies the needs of real people.
So if you are clients that believe your goals may be pushing the limits of reality, you really owe it to yourselves to review your goals with your Architect before you go any further. Ask them questions, like:
1. Is our budget realistic?
2. Is the size of house we want affordable with our budget?
3. If not, what size of house would be?
4. What would a proper budget be for the size of house we want with the features we want?
5. Can you guarantee that the house will cost what we want to spend (the only honest answer to this is: NO).
6. Is our land size and usable area adequate for where we want to locate our house and will it work for vehicular circulation and other features we want?
7. Are we asking for systems and features that might be unrealistic for want we’d like to spend? (Many people treat stone like it’s paint. It is not).
8. Please tell us your thoughts about our project and be honest about your opinions.
It is incredible that almost NO clients ever ask any of these questions. They really think they know better. And that because they want certain things, they will actually happen through their force of personality or strength of desire to have them for unheard of discounts. Kind of like telling a neurosurgeon how to perform your upcoming brain surgery for 49 cents.
That’s not the way thing work in construction. No Contractors give away anything for free. Quality materials cost money. Lots of it. And bigger = more expensive. And more complex = more costly and more time.
Contact this Architect at the email shown above and have a discussion about your goals and if they are are realistic. That just might save you months, if not years of wasted effort and investment in things that you might not really need.
Just when we thought this train of thinking could not get any more absurd, we had 2 contacts during the last week.
One of them insisted that they were…
wait for it…
going to build their new dream house for about $90/SF and their basement would be free! Because: they have no construction experience, but they “have run their numbers”.
Hey: what does our Architect know? He just finished building the 8th house for himself and has more than $3 BILLION worth of projects under his belt and has been doing this for 52 years and has been licensed as as Architect since 1982 and does this everyday for a living.
And: another couple called our firm and get this: Insisted that they were going to build their high-end log house for $50/SF. Because they have: “Talked to some people.” Hmmm. And their basement will be free as well. Really? And they are office workers who are going to run the wiring and plumbing, even though they know nothing about that. Hey: that can only take a couple of weekends, right? Think again. And they have a steep lot.
We told them: the log package will cost them probably around an extra $45/GSF added to the cost of conventional construction, and that is for a big truck dumping all those logs onto their land. That does not include putting them together, or the HVAC, or electrical, or plumbing, or the roof, foundation, insulation, appliances, doors, windows, site work. driveway and everything else.
And their steep site (bought without our input) will add about another $100,000 to the cost of their foundations.
But once again: what does the Architect know? These people have been planning this for 12 weeks. Lots of time to fill in the missing information in their project, right?
So: the dream craziness bubble is getting larger and larger. But this firm is standing by the truth. Telling potential clients how things really are.
Because both of the couples above are about to make the biggest financial mistake of their lives. We had to be honest with them, whether they decided to listen to reason or not. Our conscience is clear. We hope they stop before they go bankrupt, once everything we have told them begins to unfold.
And the worst thing we could have done? Why: to have done what they demanded of us: design a house that they cannot afford and which would get them in huge trouble, telling them their imagined budget was fine. We feel that would have been unethical.
And so it goes…