Building Homes or Extensions/Schooling


I Have a vision of owning a small buisness that designs and builds custom single family homes. I will be a freshman at Jacksonville University next year and was going to major in civil or structural engineering. Is this smart? If not, what path should I take? Thanks

Hello, Joseph.

It will be wise for you to also take classes in architecture. Engineering is very important, but there's more emphasis on science and math. To be a great residential building designer, you need to balance science with creativity and functionality. A co-major or a major+minor will give you the most rounded education.

Talk to a school counselor, and verify with him/her what classes will be best for you, given your goals. I highly recommend classes (and seminars) in Universal Design. There is a shortage of well-designed homes that incorporate lifetime livability, safety, and superior function. Single-level homes are best for the majority of Americans, although the home is limited by smaller lots. And pay particular attention to the two most important rooms in every home: the kitchen and bathrooms. You might want to join the local chapter of NKBA (, to get more specific information -- especially if your school doesn't offer specific classes in bathroom and kitchen design.

Good luck, and congratulations for your decision! Hope that you'll be on the leading edge of "new and improved" homes for American families in the years to come.


Diane Plesset, CMKBD, NCIDQ, C.A.P.S.
D. P. Design

Building Homes or Extensions

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Diane Plesset


I will answer questions about designing and building a new home, building an addition, remodeling a home, sustainability ("green" building and remodeling), aging-in-place, kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling. The goal is to help homeowners achieve ultimate satisfaction with all of their choices and decisions.


Over 25 years in residential design, construction, improvement, and remodeling. Hundreds of completed projects in all ranges of investment. Author of the award-winning book "THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling," host of "Today's Home" on Lifestyle WebRadio, and public speaker.

National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC)

THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling. Designer's Illustrated, Gentry, Interior Coordinator (Japan), Kitchen-Bath Business, Kitchen-Bath Design News, Oregonian, Portland Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, San Mateo Times, Statesman Journal

Degrees in residential interior design, bath design, kitchen design, and lighting design. To improve knowledge about codes, products, and trends that will affect homeowners, I regularly attend tradeshows, conferences, classes, and seminars, and read 7 major trade magazines and newsletters.

Awards and Honors
Certified Master Kitchen-Bath Designer (CMKBD), Certified Interior Designer (NCIDQ), Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (C.A.P.S.). AWARDS: Henry Adams, Chrysalis, Best of the Best, CoTY, Master Design, HBA Excellence. 2003 NABE Award for best how-to book.

Past/Present Clients
Please see the portfolio in my website,

©2017 All rights reserved.