In my 30-plus years of designing and building high-end homes, I have found that working with multiple consultants on a given project is one of the most challenging aspects of this creative endeavor.
The challenge largely stems from each consultant’s desire to act as project leader.
Talk to an architect and he will tell you that he should be the first point of contact and lead a project from beginning to end. Ask a homebuilder the same question and he’ll give you the same answer. Interior designers may not express the same position, but in practice may execute this way for their company, where they are the beginning and the ending point for a given project.
I’ve found the same to be true with home technology integrators, pool contractors, landscapers, and others. We’re all fighting for control of the client and don’t want anyone interfering with our work or encumbering funding from our client. The reality is that everybody supports the concept of teamwork as long as nobody infringes on their turf.
Clear Roles and Expectations
As an architect, I can unequivocally say that the right answer to this conundrum is for the architect to be the first hired by the client, orchestrate the team, and control the project. Unfortunately, the custom residential architectural industry has largely been displaced from its former leadership role and relegated to providing builders sets of construction drawings.
The residential building industry, on the other hand, is well equipped to orchestrate the entire custom residential team, yet even builders often leave essential components such as home technology, landscaping, and pool work to others. It’s often the interior designer who steps into more of a leadership role and represents the clients. The worst-case scenario is when the clients become the project manager, and it’s every man for himself in the battle to finish the house.
It is in all of our best interests to learn to work as a cohesive team. Working with custom residential architects, I’m striving to elevate the practice to where architects once again orchestrate the team. This requires us to become knowledgeable of all the disciplines and requirements, including that of home technology.
It was just five short years ago that CRAN (Custom Residential Architects Network) became formally established at the national level of the American Institute of Architects, and I have been proud to be part of that effort over the past 10 years. This year I’m also excited to participate on the Design Committee of NAHB (National Association of Homebuilders), which has to date been dominated by the multi-family and production home segment with little participation from architects who specialize in custom residential design.
Today I’m seeing the greatest participation of custom residential architects at the national, state, and local levels that I’ve seen in the past 35 years of my practice. I encourage home technology professionals to connect, educate, and make alliances with custom residential architects to provide a better service and home building experience to our clients.
Luis Jauregui, AIA, is president of Jauregui Architecture, Interior Designs & Construction in Austin, Texas. He is a member of the NAHB Custom Home Builders Technology Working Group.