Q. Please describe Springhouse Architects’ process. Is there a typical timeline for a custom-built home?
Our process begins with the homeowner. The best time for them to come to us is before they have purchased land. But many times, a homeowner has already bought the property, and they come to us with a lot of ideas. So, we start with their inspiration photos. In addition to what they love, they also show us a few things they dislike. We consider all of that, along with information about their land — such as slopes, sun locations and neighborhood characteristics — and design their home accordingly.
Some architects work toward a specific style, but not us. We love architecture, homes and design based on what inspires the homeowner. The process is collaborative and can move at the client’s pace. Sometimes we will present an idea to a client on Friday, and they will get back to us the following Monday. Others will take a couple of weeks to discuss our concept with their parents or kids and get their input, which happens during the design process. I’ve always said I’d love a year to design a home, make all the selections, and figure out the budget, but we usually don’t get that long.
The process is now more fast-tracked because we are also building houses. We started doing that in 2020, right when COVID began. I thought, “Why not jump into the deep end of the pool?” We celebrated Springhouse Architects’ 15th anniversary in June; we’ve been building for three years.
Q. Most of your homes are in Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus. Are you willing to take on projects elsewhere?
We do projects nationally. We’ve done projects in Florida and, most recently, in Charleston, South Carolina. Most were requests from our clients who are moving or have vacation homes. Typically, when we do that, we partner with someone there. We are the design lead; someone else takes up the engineering part. Otherwise, we remain in southwest Ohio.
Q. Most of your work is new build, however, some of your work includes revitalizing neglected buildings. In your opinion, how important is using sustainable products?
We don’t specialize in sustainable projects, but we love to use any sustainable products brought to our attention. We have not been able to get into net zero or any higher-end sustainable projects. However, using existing buildings is the most sustainable thing you can do. The entire structure is already there. You do not have to use new lumber or new stone. Many items already in the structure of a building’s skin are highly sustainable. It is important to find ways to utilize our existing building inventory both for sustainability and just for the love of architecture.
Q. Are you reaching for other projects via marketing or word of mouth?
We do marketing. Right now — especially since we are changing gears on the architect side because the residential/design-build side is going well — we’re doing some lead generation to get new commercial projects on the architectural side. We will always be one team, but we are working to keep the architecture side strong as the architect-led design-build business picks up.
Q. What sets Springhouse apart from other architectural firms in the area?
We are passionate about serving our clients and delivering what they want. I have personally started some development work. As a result of learning what developers go through to get a project to the table to begin digging, I have great empathy for what they do. Architects are only one line item on the spreadsheet developers must work through. On the residential client side, we recognize that building a custom home is the biggest project they will ever undertake — hopefully, only once. Getting it right is paramount for clients, so we help them, collaborate with them, and take our time to make sure their dream project becomes a reality. Now that we are also building some of the homes we design, we have a greater understanding of what every client goes through. This has certainly led to us being better architects and a stronger business.
Q. Please tell us about the “Create Your Home” course you developed to guide people through building a custom home.
I wrote a book 15 years ago with much of the same content but delivered it differently. The book is still on the website; you can download it for free. The course is more of a workbook guiding clients through what I want them to know before we sit down at the table. My dream client would come to me with this workbook completed. You don’t have to design your own home to work through this course. I lead you through the thought process to make good decisions, understand what your budget needs to encompass, what site you should look for, and five or six other highlighted portions.
When shopping for a site, I tell them to go through this checklist to figure out sun orientation, land, neighborhoods and everything we talk clients through. Anyone can take this course and do it themselves. They can take the workbook, visit any builder or architect, or speak to us. I am determined to start off strong. You need to know what you need to know before you sign with somebody.
So many clients go through a builder’s home and say, “Oh, this is beautiful! Will you build my house?” They have no idea what they are getting into. You must take your time and get it right from the start if you’re building a custom home.