How can I find people who have designed their own homes?
March 21, 2007 9:23 AM   Subscribe

How can I find people who have designed their own homes?

I'm a magazine writer and I was recently assigned a piece on how to design your own house. I need to talk to people who have actually done this -- particularly if their house is in some way notable -- but am not sure how to go about finding them. Anyone know any good architecture/design forums where I could post a query? Or have other suggestions on how to track down DIY house designer types?
posted by It ain't over yet to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My sister and her fella designed and built their own home. It's all solar, off the grid, on a dramatically hilly piece of land in Richmond, Vermont. I think it's beautiful, but I don't know about architecture.

I know they relied to some extent on designs that are publicly available and then altered to their needs. I know that at least in Vermont there is a loose network of people who design and build their own houses, especially with solar or green components, so there is an exchange of information going.

If you want my sis's info, email me, I'm ccenter at las-elc dot org.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:33 AM on March 21, 2007

Contact local contractors, who would likely be doing the work for these DIY designers (and may be the DIY designers of their own houses).
posted by DU at 9:48 AM on March 21, 2007

I think you've found one such forum. I designed and built a 1000 sq ft 2-story cottage house from scratch. In hindsight I'll never build 2 stories again without hiring laborers to deal with the roof. All in all it was extremely affordable and cost less than $18K in materials.
posted by rolypolyman at 10:07 AM on March 21, 2007

If you need some Californians who are similiar to ClaudiaCenter's sister, contact the Solar Living Institute which trains and supplies families who are interested in green building techniques such as straw-bale and solar. They should be able to point you to some clients who designed their own, likely quite original, homes.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:35 AM on March 21, 2007

Contact local architecture firms? After all, all building projects need an architect.
posted by humblepigeon at 10:44 AM on March 21, 2007

My husband is an architect, and last summer we (using a contractor) totally gutted, renovated and added onto our house using our own design and the full set of plans that my husband drew up. Email is in my profile if you're interested.
posted by initapplette at 10:56 AM on March 21, 2007

What about contacting the permit departments of various municipalities? They probably wouldn't give you contact numbers but might be willing to call a few of the more interesting projects that have crossed their desk and give the owners your contact information. They would also be happy to answer any questions about permitting these fabulous designs to actually be built.
posted by saucysault at 11:01 AM on March 21, 2007

Perhaps Yestermorrow could put you in touch with some of their grads.
posted by adamrice at 11:13 AM on March 21, 2007

My parents designed and continue to build (it's a never ending project) their own 5000+ square foot home, complete with an indoor swimming pool hand-tiled by my father. They are in the 2nd year of applying 65 tons of fieldstone salvaged from old pasture walls to the exterior. Email is in the profile if you need more info.
posted by mrmojoflying at 11:16 AM on March 21, 2007

Some good suggestions already. Another way to do it, if you are looking for people local to you, is go and ask the managers at lumber yards to put you in touch with "owner-builders" they are dealing with. I disagree with the suggestion above to contact architects -- I understood the question to be about finding people who designed and built a house without the services of an architect (although in some localities an architect signing off on the plans may be a necessary step in the process).
posted by Forktine at 2:31 PM on March 21, 2007

You might want to try Dwell Connect. It's Dwell Magazine's forum thingie, and a big focus of the magazine is self-design.
posted by mckenney at 4:05 PM on March 21, 2007

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