NEW BOOK PROJECT: "The Art and Craft of Remodeling a House with an Architect"


Building a house with an architect should be fun.” That was the first sentence in my book How to Build a House with an Architect. It might well serve as the opening of this book on remodeling. The term “Remodeling” covers a range of construction projects: 1) Restoration of historic buildings. 2) Alterations to an existing building and 3) Adding wings or a second story to an existing house. I can’t begin to count the number of times clients have said to me “I’d love to build a house, but we love our house and we like where it is.” “If only …”

The “If only…” is usually followed by “…we had more room in the kitchen,” “we had a nicer master bedroom,” or “…we simply had more room!”

The vast majority of homeowners who consider remodeling their house first call a builder. Builders are regarded as practical problem solvers who have sensible ideas and can provide budget estimates. I say categorically that any builder worth his salt would recommend hiring an architect. Builders execute designs – they “build.” Architects offer design solutions and work with builders to develop strategies to achieve your goals.  There is a myth – unfortunately based on conspicuous examples – that architects are inevitably extravagant and the architect’s fee would be an extra cost that would blow your budget. But let’s look at it another way. You have a fixed budget and should ask, “Who can assure me that I am getting the most for my money and am adding value to our house?”  An architect can show you ways of saving money (sometimes more than his fee) and can add considerably to the value of your house.


A house – a home – is probably the biggest single investment that any person – or couple – will ever make in a lifetime. Who would dream of investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single company or business? One hedges one’s bets and that’s why mutual funds were created. But a house is a real estate investment. If you decided to plunk down $100,000 to alter your house , wouldn’t you want to protect your initial investment and perhaps assure a return on that $100,000 when you sell your house? Don’t forget: Every house is a spec house. Someday it will get sold and it should make a profit. An experienced architect will see that your investment is prudently nurtured by creating value along with the enrichment of your life while living in your house.

Now, with that all taken care of, you can start your wish list of requirements.  My book, How to Build a House with an Architect, covers the three phases of any architectural project: 1) The Program – “The Problem” which is the Owner’s domain; 2) The Design – “The Solution” which is the architect’s domain; 3) The Construction – “The Implementation,” which is the builder’s domain.

By going through all this you may discover you can find the space you need within the volume of your existing house. I had a friend who always said that they wanted to add a dining room to their house. I always said that I bet there was sufficient room to have the dining room without adding on. I won the bet. Here’s how:

Initial Design Studies for a House in New Canaan, Connecticut: