Jan 14, 2014

DIY building

Building something is hard work, many factors interfere; budgets, materials, design, the nature and location of the project, not to mention the multitude of specialists that intervene in making a building inhabitable, (electricians, plumbers and so on).

 Coming up with the best possible solution that takes into consideration all  this and much more is not easy, and so it's only natural that people who are not specialized in the subject would want to hire someone that does know how to manage all these components; then why are so many buildings, like houses, businesses built by the owner of said property?
Let's take the specific example of houses, since they are the most common to be built by the owners rather than commissioning a designer/architect to do it, and yet, houses are for the most part, one of the most complex projects in terms of how diverse the activities it confines in a fairly  small area; pulling off a well designed house sounds easy to most people but when things aren't thought through it is going to show, a lot.

A house floor plan it's something you can't look over. I remember when I was a kid I had this friend who had a one floor house with a beautiful garden and a pool, so naturally my friend always had her friends coming over. The house was built by one of her elder relatives, who just hired some construction workers and built as they went.
-See floor plan below-

As you can see on the floor plan, the main entrance to the house was quite away from the yard, so we had to go a long (and I mean long) way to the other side of the house to the pool, and to do that, we had to pass through every single room, be it the TV room or everybody's bedroom. As you can imagine no one could shut their doors in order to have some privacy because then the circulation was completely cut off and things like the bathroom where unreachable for some members of the house.
It wasn't their fault that a very simple design error didn't registered when they planned to build the house, clients usually know what they need, but most don't knot how to get it, and the how is the designer/architect's job.
And that's just talking about the design, managing the costs, getting in contact with the providers of materials and the construction workers is a nightmare even for professionals.

Having said all that you may think that I consider hiring an architect to do all the heavy lifting in the design and construction process is the absolutely only option for everybody; well, think again.
First, I am well aware, that most people just don't have the money to hire someone to do the heavy lifting. People who run away from mortgages and bank bills on their house are also scared to death to let someone else manage their hard earn savings for a house.
Also the fear of not communicating the architect exactly what they want out of their dream house and ending up paying for a property that's not what they needed, wanted or envisioned.

Truth be told, a lot of people who aren't professionals and still choose to DIY their projects, are for the most part, playing a gamble for the end result. It could be one that pays off or one that doesn't.
As a result of the 2008 crisis that started precisely taking its toll in the housing market, more and more people are joining the 'DIY your house' movement, whether it is buying a used house and the new owner making adjustments by himself, or building something from scratch on their own.

To me, it is very interesting to see the various results of these sort of exercises, for better or worse, a designed space is something we have to literally live with.


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