Home building design has always been an art focused on function. In fact a well designed house is a functional work of art. The architect has two sets of goals, one set of goals is artistic and the other is functional.
The form of homebuilding must follow the ever changing function of modern residences. As social norms change, societal demands force changes in architecture. Architecture must also be adjusted for weather and climate ranges of any given area. Some forms of architecture work better in one climate than another. The same is true of materials. Weather can have a harsh impact on construction of a nature foreign to the climate. Goals for architectural design must include both consideration of climate, and consideration of the habits and needs of residents. In addition all homes must be durable.
• The foundation must be poured below the frost line to prevent foundation cracks.
• A home must be able to shed rain and snow from the roof. The more snowfall is common in the area, the steeper the roof pitch must be.
• The need for insulation should be directed more toward heat than cooling in cold climates, and more for cooling than heat in warm climates
• Design must address extreme weather possibilities within the climate. Earth quake resistance, wind resistance, or measures to prepare for flooding are more necessary in some areas more than others.
• Enduring construction starts with a strong foundation, and appropriate soil. Some soil requires a deeper and more substantial foundation than other types of soil.
• All building design requires an architect who understands about the tinsel strength of the materials, and the load bearing capacity of walls and other supports. All this requires a lot of advanced math, and knowledge. The larger the structure is, the more complicated this can get. A home must have adequate support below for the weight of upper structures in order to be safe.
• Homes should be built to last, and that includes using materials which meet the climate.
• Damp climates can be harder on some materials than others. Wood rots in climates where humidity and dampness prevail for months on end. Paint protects wood from rotting, but must be reapplied more frequently in damp climates. Adobe tends to melt in heavy rains, and moisture. Papercrete stays soggy and waterlogged in a damp climate as well. Even stone can harbor moisture in a damp climate. Insulated concrete however works well even in dampness.
• Concrete reacts differently when poured in cold than heat. Excessive heat during drying can cause concrete and cement to crack because it makes it dry too fast, and cold or damp weather leads to much longer drying times.
• Modern interior climate control, in the form of HVAC, and the need for increased insulation for energy efficiency has created a whole new set of goals and problems for architects.
• Modern electronic entertainment devices have also changed home design in many ways. The increased use of electrical outlets, and the demand for a long wall to accommodate large entertainment center are just two major changes that impact home design.
• At one time the focal point of the living room was the fireplace, but today it is the entertainment center. Therefore rooms that will feature both a fireplace and a living room must find a method of shared focal point, without detracting from the appearance of the room.
• Due to the need for energy efficiency, the square footage is being cut for children’s rooms. It seems that is one of the first areas on the chopping block when it comes to size. Meanwhile children have more toys, electronic equipment and gadgets than ever. Designing a small room with effective storage and adequate living space can be very challenging.
• Diverse needs in the kitchen are also a design problem. There are cooking techniques from many cultures being integrated into the American dietary desires. In addition while the kitchen is still the heart of the home in many families, other families hardly ever go in there except to grab a snack on the run. Thus the size and shape of kitchens varies greatly from one family to another and so does the demand for specialty appliances for various cooking styles.
• All homes evoke a certain ambiance or feeling. They make an impression, and should be an expression of the feelings and goals of the residents, as well as the artistic talents of the architect.
• Homes come in many styles, and within each style is room for creativity and uniqueness. There are many different types of architecture, which may be based on time periods, and locations. Home styles can be influenced by historic architecture in various countries around the world. They can also be influenced by American architecture in various different areas.
• Some materials lend themselves more to one style than another, but all materials can be used in non traditional ways for stunning effects. The use of exterior siding over a material that could stand alone, often gives a totally different appearance to a home, than it would have otherwise.
• Exterior color can also be used to create uniqueness, or to blend with other homes in the area. The use of color to set a home apart is often unappreciated in some subdivisions and suburbs.
• Interior design can be dramatic or very blending and generic. Many builders limit the number of colors which can be used in the interior of a home, simply to prevent design nightmares. Professional designers produce fabulous and dramatic effects with bold colors all the time, but this is a talent which took years to develop. Some home owners have this skill too, but other do not. When working with color and style, sometimes it is best to seek the advice of a professional decorator.
• While exciting effects with wallpaper designs and paint colors can seem exciting at first, many people find that they do not like the paint or wall paper after six months of living with it. The lovely bird designs on the ivory wall paper may gradually start to make some family members uneasy, and the swirls on the tiles which seem somewhat non descript to you, might set your toddler screaming about monsters on the ‘pictures’ in the bathroom. Some people find patterns hard to deal with over time. Sometimes keeping it simple is best.
Changes and individualization in American tastes and lifestyle are continuing challenges to home designers. The goals of home designers are worth considering when planning your own home. Home building design is not just about what looks nice. It has to do with the function of the home, and the individual needs and tastes of each individual home owner.