Mountain and lake homes don’t usually have curbs, but the phrase “curb appeal” still applies. There are few among us who haven’t driven, walked, or even boated by a nice neighborhood and admired the beautiful houses. Everyone appreciates a well designed home with pleasing proportions, balanced massing, well placed windows, and coordinated materials. A nice looking house draws the attention of people passing by, and especially catches the eye of prospective home buyers.
Having a home that meets your spatial requirements, functions well, and doesn’t cost too much for operation and maintenance is important, and any new home design should be able to accommodate these basic requirements. According to a recent survey conducted by Professional Builder magazine, respondents indicated that the most popular criteria people used to decide on whether to buy a property was the exterior look of the home, or its overall design and curb appeal.
While this is not a shocking discovery, it is worth noting that despite recent challenges in the housing market, people still value nice looking home exteriors and are willing to spend extra to have a home that looks good from the street. Despite what the term “curb appeal” suggests, the best aspect of a home’s exterior isn’t always the side that faces the street, and sometimes it makes sense to enhance the curb appeal of a home as seen from other vantage points. This is often the case on waterfront homes we design, and should also be considered for homes that front on a golf course, ski slope, or public park.
Most of our clients, now and in the past, are building homes that they want to live in for a long time. In general, they place a high value on having a home that looks good to them, their guests, and to the other residents in the neighborhood. Creating a home with enhanced curb appeal not only leads to greater owner satisfaction, it also gives the property an advantage when it comes time to sell. It is likely that a good looking home designed by a creative Architect will appeal to a new buyer as much as it did to its current owner, and that the perceived value of good design will be realized in the form of a higher contracted sale price.
Designing a home may seem like it is not difficult to do, and in the case of a basic box shape with a simple roof that may well be true. Many people who have built homes think that since they know how all the pieces go together they can design a nice home, and I’ll admit to thinking the same thing when I built homes before becoming an Architect. However, the process of creating even a moderately complex home requires very careful attention to spatial arrangement, building form, proportion, materiality, detailing, and the buildings relationship to the site. Architects have extensive training and experience in contemplating these “right brain” aspects of design and resolving them with the nuts and bolts requirements imposed by material limitations, building codes, budgets, and zoning restrictions.
What gives a home its curb appeal is subject to individual preferences, but most people would agree that the exterior presentation of a home conceived of by a skilled Architect is unmatched when measured against a similar home designed by someone with lesser credentials. Most people know better than to seek investment advice or trust their money to someone without extensive training in financial management. It seems logical to suggest that the same should hold true for choosing an Architect, to help you realize the best potential from what may be your most valuable asset, your home.
Tom Russell, Architect, LEED AP
Hendricks Architecture specializes in mountain and waterfront homes. Our home designs have been featured in and on the covers of various periodicals, including Mountain Living, Timber Home Living, Cabin Life, and Cowboys & Indians. Please visit our projects page for examples of some of our most recent projects.
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