Hiring an Architect vs Purchasing Plans

Before the start of any home, there must be a plan. That is a universality in the homebuilding world. However, there is some variation in where those plans originate. For many, the decision on how to acquire a design plan for their home comes down to two options: purchasing prefabricated plans on the internet or through a firm or hiring a professional architect to create and oversee the plans. There are positive and negative aspects of both options and ultimately it comes down to each home and homeowner’s needs.

Hiring An Architect


Having an experienced architect on hand to guide your project allows for a lot of customization. The architect will begin her or his project by asking you loads of questions, this in an effort to define exactly what you will need in your new home. This gives you the freedom to design with specific materials in mind, plan according to your specific lot, and truly make your home fit your lifestyle. This type of customization creates a truly unique home which can contribute to your resale value as well.

From Paper To Move In  
When you hire an architect often times there is an option to retain their services from the drawing of plans all the way through move in. This is important because if adjustments ever need to be made due to materials, changes in your lot, building codes, or problems regarding plumbing or electricity you won’t have to bootstrap the process. You’ll have a steady, experienced hand guiding the process from start to finish.


Short term expense
We realize building a home is an expensive endeavor. Hiring an architect is generally more expensive than purchasing pre-made plans online. However, we feel that this factor is minuscule when compared to the value that is gained through hiring a professional, we’re of the mindset that something of this magnitude -your home, should be done right the first time.

Time Factor
Hiring an architect to design your custom home is a bit of an extensive process. There are research and time spent find just to decide which architect you’ll use and then one on one time with your chosen architect to actually create a design that will suit your needs. If you’re in a hurry, this may not be the best route for you.

Purchasing Plans


Visually easy to grasp
Since these prefabricated home designs are copies of finished homes. There are generally photo samples of the blueprints as a finished product. This is helpful to those who can’t really visualize what they want in a home, or don’t find standard floor plans to be enough. This gives you all the visualization of a rendering without the spent time and energy.

Speed and Convenience
If you need a plan today it’s possible to go onto a website selling floor plans and purchase your desired layout. There are no other strings attached generally. This convenience and speed with which you can hit the ground running are valuable to some. But we must stress, this convenience comes at a cost; what you gain in speed now may become a problem later when the lot specifications and building materials come into play.  

Tried and True Design
Pre-made plans provide comfort for the homeowner in knowing that these designs have worked for someone, somewhere. There is a bit of risk taken out of the equation since these designs are tried and tested by hundreds of others before you.


Low Customization
That kitchen you’ve always dreamed of? You may have found it, but the plan it's associated with doesn’t include the number of bedrooms you wanted. Or you find the perfect number of bedrooms but it has a huge dining area that you’re sure you’ll never use. Such is the needle-in-the-haystack manner of finding a floor plan that suits all of your needs when buying online. You may find something that meets some or most of your desired features but it's a rare find to tick all your boxes with a bought plan.

Energy Spent on Adjustment
The plan you thought was perfect may have only had suggestions for water and electricity line placement, but with your specific lot this may not be possible. You may need to have your plumber or electrician around much longer to work around this obstacle or hire an architect or designer to make the adjustments for you and to make matters worse, sometimes an architect may be forced to have the entire plan must be redone.

Like most things regarding building a custom home, this decision comes down to which option best suits your needs and priorities. However, we will strongly suggest considering an architect for your custom home. It avoids many otherwise unnecessary obstacles and creates a sense of security for your entire process of building a new home.

Choosing Exterior Materials For Your Custom Home

This Lake LBJ home utilizes a mix of materials. 

This Lake LBJ home utilizes a mix of materials. 

In this wonderful process of building a custom home choosing materials to use as exterior siding is one of the more important decisions you’ll make. As with almost every other aspect of your home, there are many factors to consider.

  • Aesthetics

    A home’s curb appeal is not only important for resale value, it’s probably one of the reasons you’ve opted to build a custom home in the first place. Choosing a material that provides the look you desire is one of the great joys of customizing your new home. This one is totally subjective. Spend some time considering your options as they relate to the other considerations in this guide and the environment in which your home will be built. Would a white stone complement the wooded area around you as much as a wood or brick exterior? Need professional help with these questions, we always reccomend hiring an interior designer.
  • Durability

    The big question when it comes to siding: which is the last man standing? Which material can outlast all the others, look amazing, and not break the bank? If there were a simple answer we wouldn’t have so much discussion around this topic. As far as durability goes brick wins the day in the eyes of many developers, builders, and clients alike. Brick can last generations with little to no maintenance, is generally fire-tested, and won’t get eaten up by insects.
  • Cost

    We all generally want the most bang for our collective buck. Your project’s budget it something you definitely want to keep an eye on, however, your exterior is, as mentioned earlier, one of the more important decisions you’ll make in the custom home building process. Materials that are more durable, require less maintenance, and are resistant to weather and insects are going to be more expensive generally. This includes materials like natural clay brick and high-quality stone.
  • Water Resistance

    If you’re in an area like South Texas, you may not be as concerned about water damage, considering we don’t have as much rain relative to an area like the Pacific Northwest. A material prone to water damage can mean repairs or replacements early and often. For example, wood is very vulnerable to water damage (as well as insects) while brick and stone alternatives are impervious to these effects.

  • Maintenance

    Related to water resistance but on a bit of a broader scale, the recommended maintenance for your chosen exterior can affect not only your project budget but your calendar as well. Materials like engineered and natural wood may require painting and replacement on a 2-5 year basis. If you enjoy DIY on the weekends or plan to continuously work with a contractor for maintenance, this may not prove as vital a factor.
  • Energy Efficiency

    In the Texas Hill Country when it comes to energy efficiency you want two things out of your exterior materials: keep heat out in the summer, keep heat in during the winter. Simple enough, right? Well, measuring the impact of the siding on your utility bill can be dependent on the location of your lot and its exposure to the elements. Generally though, brick is an excellent and very efficient choice if energy conservation is a priority for you.

  • Installation Ease

    Since you will more than likely hire a contractor to do your exterior, this factor may seem irrelevant. However, if a material takes a lot of prep work, like stucco, or requires specialized tools or other materials, like fiber cement, the labor costs could drive up your project budget in a big way. Additionally, if and when the time comes for replacements and repairs you would need to plan another visit with your contractor. If you’re working with a good firm, this shouldn’t be too big of an issue. When you consider the importance of your exterior, we believe it’s well worth a little extra effort.

    Still having trouble making these tough decisions? We can help! Drop us an e-mail today!

The Importance of Working With An Interior Designer

DIY interior design is made to look so easy these days. Between Pinterest, Buzzfeed and all the great tutorials on YouTube the prospect of working with a professional interior designer may seem unnecessary. But make no mistake, DIY projects are not always as easy as that 2 minute video makes them out to be. An experienced interior designer brings a valuable skillset that, assumedly, you do not have. This skillset makes the process easy, efficient and budget friendly.

Work Smarter

Take The Pressure Off  
You’re under a mountain of stress during the home building process. Working with an interior designer can help to alleviate some of that worry. To know that your home is in good hands and not have to make every single decision that goes into designing the interior of your home will provide room for your mind to focus on other important things in your life.

Retain Your Most Precious Asset
The time you spend with your family, your friends, your hobbies, your business, your leisure time: it’s limited. Designing your own interior space will be time consuming. Between choosing color schemes and materials to locating furniture and comparing prices, the process can be tedious. This will be especially true considering interior design will likely be a new skill for you. Delegating the minutia of the process to an interior designer is a worthwhile investment.

Save Money

For those of you shying away at the idea of hiring an interior designer on account of budget concerns, consider this: a novice interior designer (presumably, you) is prone to make mistakes. These types of mistakes could include: overpaying for decoration items, choosing the wrong paint color, buying the wrong sized furniture and under budgeting. Now, these are just a few of the risks you take when tackling interior design alone. These types of mistakes are costly and could eventually bring you way over budget for your design project, if you’ve worked out a budget in the first place. An interior designer allows you to save money using a “do it once, do it right” mindset.

Improve Your Living Experience

Think of your favorite website. It probably has some nice color schemes, great font, and maybe some high quality photos on there. It may also have some great content, a blog with news that’s important to you, a valuable product, or stories that you love. Is that why you love this site so much? Could you get this content elsewhere and if so, why don’t you? The answer probably involves the experience you have when you interact with this website. The user experience (UX) is a huge part of what makes anything, not only websites, our favorite. Interior design isn’t simply about deciding if something looks good, it’s also deciding what is most functional for your lifestyle and maximizing the space in your home. This skill, the ability to parse out the vital and eliminate the unnecessary is why an experienced interior designer is so valuable.  

Your Vision Made Reality With Expert Precision

Expertise & Facilitation
any fear an interior designer would judge or dismiss their ideas, though quite the contrary is true. An experienced interior designer realizes this is not their home and that their role is to facilitate and guide your vision with an expert hand. You may know exactly what you want but aren’t sure where to find the materials. You may have a color scheme that you want to see throughout your home, but aren’t sure where to go from there. An interior designer knows exactly where to get the materials and the next steps to take to define your vision. This type of expertise helps to make that picture of a dream home that only exists in your head become a reality quickly, efficiently, and without the headache.  

See Past Your Biases
Part of the skill a professional brings is the ability to see beyond the raw materials present, or lack thereof. A designer can introduce you to new materials, styles and ideas that you may not have even known existed. A designer can also re-work ideas, patterns, styles and materials in ways you hadn’t yet imagined. This can help you to be bold with your home’s design and reimagine ideas you may have previously ruled out.