What is Livability and Build Livable?

After years of living in houses built by others, you finally have a chance to build one of your own and it's so exciting; a dream come true.

You want to make the best of the opportunity, but you’re not sure how. An architect and builder, who are both well-respected and knowledgeable, are on your team and you trust their judgment.

To get started, you provide direction regarding the number of bedrooms and baths, appliance brands, and style of home, but that’s about it. You’re leaving many of the day-to-day decisions to the pros. After all, they know so much more than you. 

The house takes about a year to build and you work with them on some of the decisions. You assume that they’re taking care of the details and accounting for the things you'll need.

Once you move in, the house is beautiful and well-built. It’s what you planned and seems perfect. But over time, you realize it's actually missing useful features that would have been great for your lifestyle. For example:

  • You collect shoes and assume the primary bedroom closet would accommodate them all. It doesn't and now your shoes are scattered across multiple closets.
  • The dog bowls don't look great in the kitchen, but nowhere else makes sense.
  • The kitchen is large and has nice appliances. When you move in, you notice that the floating shelves are a bit too short for your plates. If they were just an inch deeper, the plates would fit perfectly. The same is true in the pantry, where your bulk food containers almost fit under the shelves. Almost.
  • Your skills on the grill are unmatched. When it comes time to fire it up, there is no obvious location for the grill. Outlets aren't nearby and the lights aren't where you need them to see at night.
  • Now that the roof is built, it's hard to imagine a good place for installing solar panels. And that new electric car doesn't have an outlet ready for its charger.
  • The garden is coming together, but it would be much more convenient if it had a water spigot nearby. An outlet for an irrigation system would be nice, too.
  • The windows are beautiful, and you’ll need shades. Only now do you realize that the big shades in your great room should have been built into the ceiling. 
  • Relatives visit once a year and on their first visit, you realize there isn't room for everyone when it comes to dining and game nights.
  • The spare bedroom was supposed to be a nursery for child #2. Now that it's located over the garage, you realize it will be too noisy.

The list goes on...

After living in the house for a year, you start to feel a sense of regret. You had an opportunity to make the house fit you and your lifestyle but didn't take it. At the time, you were busy and figured that the builder and architect were accounting for these decisions.

For a while, you might feel upset. How could they have missed all these details? But then it hits you. The house was built exactly as planned. The builder and architect did the job they were supposed to do. They didn't know about the shoes, the dog, the plates, the BBQ, the car, the garden, the shades, the relatives, or the new arrival. How would they? You assumed too much and now there is no going back. What a missed opportunity.

Ensuring Livability

I tell the story above because the examples are all too common. It's easy to take a back seat in the design phase and depend on others to account for details.

The problem is this:

The architect and builder can work wonders, but they cannot read minds or predict the future. They can’t account for your lifestyle, your daily rituals, and your needs unless that information is communicated to them. Building a livable house requires your input before construction begins and throughout the project. 

Often, this means thoughtful consideration of what would make it ideal and working with the architect on the design of the house before construction begins. A bigger closet for shoes, deeper shelves for plates, and a place for the grill are easy to add to the plans, as long as they are discussed.

As questions arise during construction, livability can be your guide. Your challenge is to understand the process and plan ahead so that the house is designed to be livable from the start. 

Livability is not a luxury item that requires a large budget. It's not limited to only some types of houses. In fact, a focus on livability can help save money by avoiding expensive revisions in the future. 

But it's not that simple. Home construction is a complicated project and one with a steep learning curve. Working effectively with architects and builders requires an understanding of the construction process and what to expect at each phase. This understanding creates a foundation for making decisions with confidence; decisions that can impact the budget and timeline.

The Build Livable Guide is designed for this purpose. It provides the foundation you need to ensure that your house is an enjoyable, functional, and livable one for YOU.

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