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The Missing Link

The Homemaker and Design1

Bruce M Firestone, PhD

Is there a role for homemakers in the design process?2



I have taught architecture and worked with many architects over the years, and they have valuable skills. However, they seem consumed by an idee fixe—that of producing beautiful buildings with little regard for how those structures relate to their neighbours, streets, neighbourhoods, landscapes, cities, towns, villages, transportation networks, users, tenants, owners, lenders, investors, guests, residents, visitors, and passersby.


I am also not terribly impressed with what homebuilders are accomplishing in terms of livability—how to produce residences whether grand or tiny3 that really work for their inhabitants.


What is the missing link? In my view, it’s input from the end user, aka the homemaker. More on this shortly.


Design Process


Here’s a simplified flowchart of the design process as carried out by most developers/builders today—

DEVELOPER > SITE SELECTION > ARCHITECT SELECTION > GENERAL CONTRACTOR/BUILDER SELECTION > WORKING DRAWINGS > TRADES BIDDING FOR WORK > SUBTRADES BIDDING FOR WORK > SHOP DRAWINGS > BUILDING PERMIT> CONSTRUCTION > OCCUPANCY PERMIT > LEASING OR SALE > OCCUPANCY >  DEFICIENCIES/INADEQUACIES REVEALED > ARGUMENTS ABOUT WHO DOES WHAT AND WHO PAYS FOR WHAT AMONGST THE PARTIES


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3.And the smaller the residence, the more creative designers must be to make best use of every cubic foot or centimeter.




This leads to expensive retrofits, loss of reputation and litigation in many cases.

But what if developers and builders, architects and contractors were more inclusive and brought in end users (homemakers) early in their design process to help? What could homemakers contribute.


A great deal, in my opinion, including elements such as (in no particular order)—


Home office setup

Built in shelving

Kitchen flow

Overall building flow

Storage, amount and location

Multiple ingress and egress points 

Door swing directions

In-law suite

Backyard storage shed, workshop, ADU (coach house)

Hardscaping to reduce yard work

Vegetable garden

Boot and coat placement, coat closet

Laundry room, how big and where located

Linen closet

Broom closet

Plugs, where they are and at what height

Furniture placement given where windows and doors are

Furniture selection to make best use of space, eg, storage shelf under beds or loft bed with office underneath

Color selection

Appliance selection

Plumbing and electrical fixture selection

Location of lights, end tables and more

Painting and picture placement

Garbage shed/storage solutions

Deck placement, size and height

Area rugs

Wall mounted TV locations and plugs

Speaker installation locations

Modem and mesh locations

And so forth…


Maybe the above flowchart could be amended to look like this?

 

DEVELOPER > SITE SELECTION > ARCHITECT SELECTION > END USER [HOMEMAKER] AND INTERIOR DESIGNER INPUT > GENERAL CONTRACTOR/BUILDER SELECTION > WORKING DRAWINGS > TRADES BIDDING FOR WORK > SUBTRADES BIDDING FOR WORK > SHOP DRAWINGS > BUILDING PERMIT > CONSTRUCTION > OCCUPANCY PERMIT > LEASING OR SALE> OCCUPANCY> MINIMAL DEFICIENCIES/INADEQUACIES REVEALED> FEWER ARGUMENTS ABOUT WHO DOES WHAT AND WHO PAYS FOR WHAT AMONGST THE PARTIES




Simple Example

Not convinced? Well, here is a small kitchen with an eat-in alcove. You can see a wall mounted speaker in the image plus a boot rack on the side wall and a narrow, not too deep, multi-drawer cabinet for additional storage of food stuffs and plates/dishes/etc.



But also note the placement of the chairs. The homemaker, by turning the chairs 45-degrees, increases room for people coming in or going out to the adjacent garage by about 3-inches. Every inch, every cubic inch (ie, taking advantage of ceiling height, where possible) matters.


Prof Bruce

Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD

Real Estate Investment and Business coach

Ottawa Senators founder

ROYAL LePAGE Performance Realty broker

613-762-8884


•      MAKING IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE

•      FREEDOM VIA REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT AND PB4L, PERSONAL BUSINESS FOR LIFE

•      FEHAJ, FOR EVERY HOME A JOB, FEJAH, FOR EVERY JOB A HOME

•      MAKE YOUR HOME WORK FOR YOU, INSTEAD OF YOU WORKING FOR IT

•      HIGHER ROI NOT JUST FOR OWNERS AND INVESTORS, BUT FOR TENANTS, GUESTS, VISITORS, NEIGHBORHOODS, COMMUNITIES, TOWNS, VILLAGES, CITIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT TOO

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COPYRIGHT, BRUCE M FIRESTONE, OTTAWA CANADA 2024.

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