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Architecture/Building a home


I am looking into building a home rather than buying a home already built.  I want to have my home customized.

Do I need to contact an Architect, Structural Engineer, or Builder? Where does the process begin?

Let's say I find home designs online that can be purchased as blueprints, can it then just be modified to meet my needs?

Hi Jonathan,

There are a lot of factors that go into making this decision, but I think you will get the best result if you hire an architect and design a home that is specific to a particular site you choose. Typically you will also hire a structural engineer (your architect will recommend one to you usually) and a builder (or general contractor). In this case, you will probably want to start looking for an architect toward the beginning of your process and they will help you through the process.

Some will start with a builder instead and see what plans they may have that could work on your site. Typically I've found that these plans may work but there are usually compromises in going with a more generic design that doesn't fit a site exactly how you'd want, doesn't focus to the best views or take advantage of the best sun exposure (or shade).

You can have stock plans modified. Many will make so many modifications that they would have been better off starting from scratch. Others will make modifications without understanding the ramifications of their changes and the result is less than desirable once they see it built.

Some people just don't want to pay for an architect to design a custom home, but that view is often short sighted. I have seen well designed homes we've designed sell very quickly and usually for asking price or over (often multiple offers). There's just something special about a well designed project where everything comes together and makes sense.

Nazim Nice
Principal / Architect
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Nazim Nice


I am a Seattle Architect and can answer architecture and design related questions. Ask me about material suggestions or usage. Ask me about design options - what is good design and what is bad. Ask me about choosing exterior house colors and furniture layout options. Ask me about detailing and assembling houses or components in the home. Ask me about green design or materials. Ask me about choosing an architect, the architectural services, basement remodels, second story additions, and whole house remodels. Ask me about garage design, bathroom remodels, laundry and mudroom design, family room additions, and roof deck additions.


Over 12 years of practice in the Architectural field including three years of internship plus 5 years of school. I have taught at the Knowlton School of Architecture at the Ohio State University and lectured at Carnegie Mellon University. I currently own and run the Seattle Architecture Firm, Motionspace Architecture + Design PLLC.

National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB, Seattle Architects | Motionspace Architecture + Design. More information at our blog the (un)common house. Lumen ID Custom Engraved Switch Plates with Labels.

BArch from Carnegie Mellon University & Andrew Carnegie Scholar

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