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How an Architect Designs Your Home

Tell us a little bit about your firm and the services you offer.

We are a 3-person firm located in Hudson, Wisconsin, just east of the Twin Cities area. I personally have been in the architectural profession for 27 years. We work on a variety of project types from commercial to residential. This actually give us a great knowledge base that allows us to incorporate commercial materials, technologies, etc. into our residential designs if appropriate.

We are very flexible on our services that we offer Clients. We can provide hourly consulting as well as complete packages where we work with you from initial design through the completed construction. We also can work based upon a percentage of the construction cost or fixed fee depending upon which is preferred.

What are some of the first steps you take when you're starting a new project for a client's home?

The most important thing we as architects need to do is listen. We realize 'this is not our home, it's yours'. This typically is the most expensive object they will ever purchase...it can be scary! We begin by collecting basic information, such as understanding the site, topography, vegetation, views, solar orientation, access, zoning requirements, etc. We want to understand all of the givens and then begin by looking at the big picture, eventually layering in the details that reinforce and enhance the design ideas.

How do you come up with a home design that matches what the client wants and improves on it at the same time?

We work with Clients in creating a priority list of needs and wants. Basically getting the puzzle pieces in the box. Then our job is to put the puzzle together in a creative and efficient way. By understanding the constraints, we seek out opportunities. People often bring in images to help express their likes or dislikes. We ask a lot of questions; 'Why is that important to you? or 'Is it the color and material you like or the feeling these things create for you?

Is there something that most people don't know about working with an architect that they should know?

We are all super nice! Well, I would like to think so at least! When people ask questions about my career choice they are amazed at what it actually takes to become a registered architect. This is not a profession people stumble into. We usually have between 6-8 years of college and then must intern with an architect for a minimum of 3 years, gathering a certain amount of hours/experience in a number of categories. Then... we need to take the registration exam - which the passing rate is about 35%. Beyond this, we are also required to have continuing education every year specifically related to health, safety and welfare. This is a passion for us and not just a job.

What are some of the biggest challenges that architects face when it comes to implementing their design during the construction phase?

There are always challenges but you try and minimize those the best you can. Providing a complete and thorough construction drawing package is critical. We feel it is also important to make sure the contractor understand that they are 'part of the team'. Communication, communication, communication is key. There will always be things that come up in the field where the contractor will need to make a decision. If they understand the design goals, chances are they will make the right decision in the field.

I also always ask the contactor's or subcontractor's opinion if there are things we can do more efficiently. As architects, we need to know a little about a lot different things. The contractor knows a lot about the actual implementation and is a valuable resource that can not only keep the project running smooth but also help enhance it.

What advice do you have for people who have a strong vision for their home, but with some unrealistic expectations given what they're working with?

This is really not that unusual. I go back to the earlier question about how we ask questions and listen. In the end, we work for the Client and we will give them what they want - hopefully with improvements. In essence we are being hired for our opinions and recommendations. We work hard to gain a level of trust so that honest conversations can be held. We try to set realistic expectations on the budget early. It is easier to add down the 'design road' then to delete things.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your firm?

The best way to contact us is via email or telephone. We are big into sharing ideas and engaging people through social media as well. Below is some contact information. Please feel free to contact us!

Michael Huber Architects, LLc

351 Highview Road

Hudson WI 54016

651-442-3771

mhuber@mhuberarchitects.com

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