Incorporating an Architect into Home Projects

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

Larry Meiller finds out how people can best use an architect’s expertise, and creative ways to reuse, recycle and repurpose both materials and space.

Featured in this Show

  • Architects, Contractors Work Closely To Bring Dreams To Life

    When you are considering a construction project in your home, there’s a lot to take into account. Even if you have a clear picture of what you want in your mind, it can be difficult to communicate that effectively and having an architect involved can help.

    Architects can help a homeowner find some creative ways to reuse space and materials for a green and beautiful home.

    Chad Speight, of Chad’s Carpentry, said that the relationship between the contractor and the architect is a key part of the design process. Speight said that in order to bring a client’s vision to life, it’s important to have someone whose expertise is of spatial design. An architect fills that role, he said.

    Speight said that the best scenario is that an architect works with the client to put their needs and desires on paper, and then, the contractor takes those drawings and “figures out what it’s going to cost to build it.”

    While it can be tempting to try to cut costs by skipping that design step, Speight warns that “if you don’t have a talented, creative designer, architect, involved in the project, you’re not getting a certain level of creativity that you can otherwise have. We really cherish and advocate for that part of the process.”

    While some clients will have worked with an architect before approaching the contractor, Speight said that in their case, it’s usually his firm that recommends an architect after establishing the client relationship. In either case, the architect and contractor work closely together because the cost and execution are tied to the design and vice versa.

    “It’s a collaborative effort,” he said.

    Andrew Braman-Wanek is a licensed architect with Ginkgo House Architects and holds a masters of architecture degree from the Univeristy of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects and a docent for the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation‘s architectural tours.

    Like Speight, Braman-Wanek is committed to green construction and reusing and repurposing materials and space whenever possible. He is LEED AP for Homes certified, which is a measure of environmental commitment and expertise.

    Having recently purchased and gutted an older home, Braman-Wanek had the opportunity to imagine new uses for many materials. He said that the resource that he had was the house itself.

    “I tried reusing everything I could,” he said. “And the more I opened it up, I just saw more opportunities.”

    Some were fairly common, like building a bathroom vanity table out of salvaged wood. A more creative repurposing project came from the discovery of knob and tube wiring in the home. Instead of viewing it as just another big project to take on, he saved a bucket’s worth of the parts as they were removed.

    “There must be a use for these. They’re kind of useful little gadgets, and people don’t really know what they are if they haven’t seen them before,” he said. The result? Coat hooks in the entryway made from the ceramic knobs. He explained that he saw it as “a way to honor the house a little bit, and to keep it from going into the landfill.”

    Besides being a cost saving technique, Braman-Wanek said that reusing wood, bricks, and other salvaged materials can be used “to add warmth, and to give a space a little bit of a story and some history.” He recommended website like Houzz and Pinterest as great resources for creative ideas to reuse and repurpose a variety of materials.

    In the end, Braman-Wanek not only got a lovely new home to live in after his remodeling project.

    “It’s good to have the experience that my clients have when doing these remodels” he said. “It gave me a great perspective.”

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Chad Speight Guest
  • Andrew Braman-Wanek Guest