Design with Restrictive Budgets

April 1, 2021|


This journal entry is a repost of the original July 29, 2012 entry.


           “Because  we  had  an  ordinary  piece  of  property  and  a  restricted  budget
              we  knew  we  needed  to  have  a  good  architect.”   An OGB client

We do not think of ourselves as needing to have any particular budget amount – whether high or low – it’s just another element of the total design equation.  Low budget projects can be a joy to work with if the client is realistic and open-minded, but can be very challenging if the client is hoping for a bargain using medium budget forms and materials.

Our initial strategies for restrictive budget projects include 1) keep it simple, 2) keep it small, and 3) team up with a sympathetic builder ASAP. One essentially gets about what one pays for and it is important that reduction in quality of materials and installation not reduce longevity and/or increase the long-term maintenance.

            “While   it  is  certainly  a  plus  to  have   enough   finances  to  allow
             flexibility in  solving  problems, tight budgets  can lead to some very
             interesting and refreshing solutions.”  OGB

WALK-IN CABINS:  A truncated cube was employed in order to minimize surface area relative to the volume enclosed. Remote parking and an H-shaped foundation further responded to this project’s Spartan budget (1).

ZACHARY HOUSE: This addition to, and make-over of, an existing hippie house was treated as a contrasting pair with reduced work on the existing portion in order to increase work on the addition- although even the addition used a square plan to minimize wall area and standard sliding glass doors to achieve large, yet affordable, windows (2).


HUBBARD HOUSE: This long low form preserved the ocean view for the adjacent uphill lot (which our clients also owned) assuring its sale and resulting income to pay for the construction loan on the house.  Inexpensive materials and close association with the builder were keys to meeting the restrictive budget while achieving a high level of design (3).


WINDHOVER: This vacation house was designed on a rectangular plywood module and is quite modest on the entry end, allowing a celebration of features on the (opposite) view end including a high ceiling, generous glazing, and driftwood tree trunk columns that visually connect the house to an adjacent Monterey Cypress hedgerow (4).

IRBY HOUSE: This retirement house used a strategy of  overall modesty (in just about every way one can think of) to achieve an economical yet delightful farmhouse-like project.  We were able to include a spa, all wood interior, and even some custom fabricated hardware items (5).



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