Why Design a Custom Home?

Quality architecture is custom tailored to the homeowner, not a spec house simply bought off the block. It begins with the desires and goals of the homeowner, and carries them through the design-build process.  To do this, the architect must have your best interest in mind. This is your design. We are your partner in the process, an extension of your imagination and technical tool of creation and realization.

custom home design mountain architect

A Custom Home Design

The last several years have seen a big shift in the housing market and in how we value our homes. At the height of the housing boom, the idea of home had shifted from the traditional role as a long term family asset to being a trading chip in the investor’s portfolio. Thanks to a painful (but necessary) correction in the trajectory that the housing market was on, most people have come to the realization that their home is still a valuable asset, but a large part of its value comes from the utility and functionality it offers. The concept of housing has returned to a vision of long term occupancy with an emphasis on sustainability, quality, and enhanced functionality.

The design of a home is as unique as the homeowners themselves. All aspects of the design culminate in a final product that is uniquely expressive. Materiality, light, space, all come together to affect the owners. Inseparably, a home represents those living within. We strive to make our living spaces, our offices, even our bathrooms, uniquely our own. We spend time designing a space to our taste, simply because we like it, without fully recognizing that the space ultimately represents us. Choice of paint and décor, fixtures and furniture, all contribute to the feel and expression of a room.

Unique design custom home architecture

A Unique Custom Home for Individual Tastes

Modifying an existing home to meet your needs can be a viable option, but the expense of remodeling should always be weighed against the value added since most major remodels don’t pay for themselves in improved resale value. Sometimes it’s possible to find a great piece of property with a not so great house on it, and depending on the circumstances it might make sense to tear down an existing house to replace it with a custom home that better meets your needs. Before embarking on a major remodel or buying an existing property that needs remodeling, it is a good idea to consult with an Architect to get a professional opinion on the viability of your plan.

Why begin this customization with a completed building, seeking to make the house into a home, when the customization process begins before the architect’s pen even touches paper? From start to finish, custom architecture and building becomes an extension of your own unique imagination.  Schematic design exists not as a means to an end, but as a defining factor in the final product.  It is here that the building itself gains identity, where its expression begins. Custom design is large-scale and small-scale, the big moves as well as the small details. Architects are your partner in the design and construction process, helping your dreams become reality.

Custom home entry hall

Entry Hall

A family that lives in a home designed for them is likely to live there for a long period of time. When the homeowner is able to participate in the design process and create a living environment that will complement and enhance their everyday life, they develop a lasting bond with their home that makes long term occupancy very appealing.   Many people come to us looking for home designs that meet their current needs, but they also want their home to accommodate them as they age and become less mobile. While it’s easy to design a home to meet an individual’s specific needs, most prebuilt homes are made to have mass appeal and rarely are a perfect fit for what a family really needs.

The value of a well-designed custom home can’t be overstated. Rather than settling for what a builder thought you might want or what the previous homeowners liked, when you choose to build a custom-designed home you get a unique creation that matches your lifestyle, functional requirements, and aesthetic preferences. Every individual or family has their own spatial requirements and personal preferences, and a custom home tailored to them will meet their needs without being cramped, awkward, or burdened by wasteful unusable space.

If a homeowner does decide to sell, a well designed custom home will attract more discriminating buyers, and will almost certainly sell for a significantly higher price than a production or spec home with the same statistics. Even though home prices have dropped, there are still plenty of buyers who appreciate quality and are willing to pay for it.

Architect design of a custom kitchen facing view

Custom Kitchen Designed To Face the Views

Hendricks Architecture specializes in custom mountain and lakefront homes that are designed to match the unique lifestyles of their occupants. If a new home is in your future, we would love to talk to you about turning your vision into reality. Contact us here.

Jesse Hart – Hendricks Architecture

Previous post: Large Window Installation

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Large Window Installation

How many people does it take to manually install a large window?

mountain architecture large window installation

The answer in this case was ten men to manually lift it up (there’s another behind the window).

Architecture big window installation

This Pella window is eight feet wide, almost ten feet tall and extremely heavy.

Timber frame window installation with suction cups

It had to be lifted to its base at fourteen feet above the floor, before being secured.

lodge home window installation

Suction cups are extremely helpful in lifting these heavy windows.  They provide a vacuum seal, which creates the force necessary for the cups to stay in place while the windows are raised.

architecture window timber frame

The window is aluminum clad on the exterior, with a wood interior, and triple glazing.

big window placement

It looks like tough work, but in this case at least the guys didn’t have to go to the gym that evening.

Timber frame window installation from the interior

In most cases, with smaller windows, it only takes one to two people to do the job.  

Photos provided by Sandau Builders.  For finished photos of this project, see Priest Lake house.

John Hendricks, AIA Architect

Hendricks Architecture designs custom residences throughout North America, from small beach houses to luxury waterfront mountain homes.  We like to design in large windows to take advantage of some of the great views our clients have.

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Mountain and Lake Home Curb Appeal

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.

Mountain Home in Winter

Subtle Curb Appeal – A Mountain Home in Winter

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.

Rustic Shingle Style Lake House

This lakefront home’s roofline has its own subtle curb appeal

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.

Previous Post: Outdoor Living Spaces for Mountain Homes

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Outdoor Living Spaces for Mountain Homes

Throughout its evolution, Mountain Architecture has held true to the basic idea that spending time outdoors is an essential part of quality living.  One of the primary goals we strive for in designing mountain homes is to create a strong connection between the built environment and the natural landscape.  In the ideal, a quality home should provide a sanctuary from the elements when necessary, and at the same time be able to open to the outdoors when conditions allow.  Inhabitants should feel like they are a part of the surrounding environment, not isolated from it.

Mountain Home Outdoor Living

Mountain Home Outdoor Living: Decks, patios, bar, fire pits and spa

A well designed home for mountain living should be hewn from the materials at hand, harmonize with the landscape, and offer the inhabitants quality spaces both indoors and out.  Depending on the local climate, covered and uncovered outdoor spaces can be mixed to provide a variety of options for relaxing, entertaining, eating or watching the sunset.  In moderate climates, outdoor living rooms and kitchens can provide all the conveniences of modern life without the constraints of walls and windows.  Recent trends show that homeowners place a high value on quality outdoor spaces.

Trellis over Outdoor Living Space

Trellis over Outdoor Living Space

In just about any climate, covered outdoor space is a virtual necessity.  It opens up the option to be outside when the weather isn’t great, offers a shaded place to relax on a hot sunny day, and also allows for a storage space that can be utilized year round.  In many mountain and lake environments, bugs can be a deterrent to otherwise hearty lovers of the outdoors, especially in the evening.  We have been designing a lot of homes with screen porches lately, including one that utilizes Phantom screens, an innovative system that rolls up and out of sight when it’s not needed.  I’m particularly fond of a hallmark of old Adirondack camps – the screened sleeping porch.  These seem to have lost popularity in modern times, perhaps due to the widespread use of air conditioning.

screened porch

Screened Porch

Porches, patios, and decks are another common feature in the mountain and lakefront homes we design.  When the weather is good, nothing beats sitting outside reading or having a nice meal.  If a home site has good views and it works with the design, we often add upper level decks or balconies to offer the occupants a place to get off the ground and enjoy an enhanced view of their world. We typically include a covered front porch as well, which offers a venue to engage with visitors and should be considered as an important social element of any home.

Covered Front Porch

A Small Covered Front Porch with Mountain and Lake Views

Many of our clients want outdoor spas or hot tubs, and a deck or patio is the ideal spot to relax and have a nice soak. Some might be deterred by the thought of heading outside on a cold winter’s night to get wet, but for those willing to brave a little discomfort it can be a rewarding experience.  For homes in places that have significant winter precipitation, I recommend locating a hot tub under cover but open to the outdoors.  You will get a lot more use out of it during unpleasant weather, and if you put a clear roof over it or keep the roof high, it still feels like you are out in the open.  My opinion was validated this winter when I watched numerous hot tubs become hopelessly buried under Schweitzer’s record snows.

Covered Patio Spa Bar

Covered Patio Spa and Bar

We, like most residents of mountain resort towns in the West, live here because we enjoy being outside and connecting with the natural world.  An important element in the quality of life we enjoy is the proximity to incredible outdoor environments, often right out the back door.  In acknowledgement of this, we strive to create beautiful, sturdy homes that allow the inhabitants to live comfortably indoors or out regardless of the season.

Tom Russell, Architect


Bridge to Stone Deck

Bridge to Stone Deck

Hendricks Architecture specializes in the design of timber mountain style homes and cabins.  Most of the homes we’ve completed are in mountain resort areas throughout the West, and have been featured in Timber Home Living, Mountain Living, Cowboys & Indians, Cabin Life and other publications. If you are interested in a mountain home, or you have any other inquiries, please contact us.

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