Midlands Business Journal June 12, 2020 Vol. 46 No. 24 issue

Page 6


• JUNE 12, 2020 • Midlands Business Journal

• Architecture

Interest in custom-built homes is growing by David Kubicek

Although modifying standard house plans is still popular, there has been a rising interest over the past few years in custom-built homes designed from scratch. “We analyze the scale, proportion, daylight and textural qualities of each indoor and outdoor space,” said Paul E. Nelson, who created PEN Architect in 2011 as a way to fulfill his interest in smaller cus-

Balancing function and form in this living/workspace. (Photo credit: Dana Damewood/PEN Architect)

tom residential and commercial projects. “These details contribute added character not normally developed on a standard set of builder drawings.” The vast majority of the firm’s projects involve upgrading and adapting existing properties to meet changing lifestyles. With rising expectations and aspirations for good design, this often involves returning a place back to its original style and condition. “There are great mid-century properties in our central neighborhoods, and we spend much of our time erasing ‘updated’ and inapNelson propriate elements that have been added to them over time,” Nelson said. Being involved in a project from beginning to end is important for the outcome of a successful design. Without that involvement, important details tend to get lost along the way. “Extra effort is always needed to do something the right way instead of the easy way,” Nelson said. “Working as an independent architect allows me to take on projects that fit my skills, interests and abilities.” Steven Ginn, founding principal of Steven Ginn Architects, said there are more players in the residential design market today than in the past. The market, as well as the idea of people building more homes

on speculation, challenges the traditional norms. Residential design has been in a state of flux recently. More and more the homebuilder controls the lot, the design and the construction, while the homeowner is responsible for fewer decisions. “Rather than homes being truly designed, they’re more often stock plans that are just slightly modified,” Ginn said. “We

Ginn Cuozzo start from scratch and generate something original for the client. The client comes to us with a lot in hand, and we design and build a home for them, and together we determine the contractor.” The process of designing a home begins by meeting with the clients to establish a budget, according to Carl Cuozzo, senior designer at Design Basics. “Most custom houses are going for $175 to $200 a foot,” he said. “Finishing above the grade is that price, and if you decide to finish the lower level it’s typically a little less.” From there the clients decide if they want a one-, one-and-a-half-, or two-story home. In a two-story all bedrooms are on the second level, and in a one-

and-a-half-story the master is on the main floor and the second bedroom is upstairs. Next, clients decide if they want an open floor plan concept and if they need any flexible space, how many bathrooms they want, and the orientation of the bedrooms. For instance, do they want the master and secondary bedrooms on opposite sides of the house? Do they want a front porch or a stoop? Do they want a gable Continued on page 8.

The Bell Hilltop Residence located in Tennessee blends rustic and modern design, inspired by the area’s history. (Photo credit: Assassi Productions/Steven Ginn Architects)