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Ask an Architect: Why Do I Need an Architect, Can’t I Design a Home on my Own, and Other Questions

If you’re enlisting a construction company in the Philippines to build your dream home, chances are they’re going to be sending in a team to work on your home. But do you need all of these people working on your house? Why can’t you just get a construction personnel to execute a plan in your mind?


We sit down with registered architect Alister James Tabuso who has worked on projects like Pancake House (Max’s Group) and several private housing and interior design projects to ask some questions that we’re honestly really curious about. Young and passionate, he handles a fair amount of both private and commercial projects; here are some of his insight to our questions.


Do I Really Need an Architect to Design My House?

Architecture isn’t just about the look of the house according to Ar. Tabuso. Architecture is as involved in aesthetic as it is with function. Architecture, as a field of study, aims to make the lives of the people who are going to live inside the home easier, more enjoyable, and fulfilling. How they are able to carry this out is exactly what 5 years of college education plus internship experience, among all other factors, is there for.


An example of this is how, through proper design and layout, architects can improve ventilation by making sure less heat enters the house while keeping a good amount of circulation going. Another example is creating a layout that optimizes the flow of people with their activities and interest as pivotal design considerations, ie, a home where more people are involved and interested in cooking should have a kitchen big enough to let them do what they want but not too large that it takes away too much from the rest of the house.



Can’t I Draw/Sketch My Design and Hand It to a Civil Engineer?

Theoretically, you can, Ar. Tabuso says. It’s actually becoming a common practice sometimes, too, where the individual makes a sketch up and then get a construction company in the Philippines to do the execution. But because these designs might only take into account just aesthetic and not practicality, owners end up with a house that doesn’t fully live up to its potential because of the lack of principles and discipline behind the design.


What Common Mistakes Do People Who Independently Design Houses Encounter?

One thing that is lacking in independently designed houses is the hindsight. Like how Ar. Tabuso described in the previous question, some designs lack balance between aesthetic, practicality, and function. Looks is subjective; where the design might fall apart are standards. One of the most common design mishaps that independent home designers make and never realize until after it’s too late is the stairs.


Commonly, because stairs are perceived to be just passageways, people tend to design them as narrow and as steeply inclined as possible to make more room for the upper floors. One thing about narrow and steep stairs is that to be stable, they also need to have higher steps. Ar. Tabuso even illustrates how some people take this too far, so much so that their homes no longer have stairs but instead have step ladders.



“But I can live with having to climb ladders all the time” you might think; this won’t be true in the long run. What if you need to take a very big piece of furniture upstairs? What if you injure yourself in the future? How do you plan on going up and down a flight of ladders after you develop leg problems? The architectural standard when designing ladders takes into account anthropometrics of the longtime inhabitants of the house to ensure that their climbs have little to no stress on their legs, knees, feet, hands, and arms with the stairs having step variance that feels “almost like walking on a flat surface,” and handrails that are properly measured to increase mobility & safety while minimizing strain.


Really, it’s one thing to know how to execute a plan, but in hindsight, not all plans are automatically good plans; construction companies in the Philippines still need to have, if not strongly advised on hiring an architect to work on any building plans.


On our next article, our friendly architect will answer questions like why we need an architect and a civil engineer separately and more. If you have questions of your own but don’t know an architect whom you can ask, comment your questions on this blog and we’ll ask the questions for you!

Property Input
Property Input is a real estate blog in the Philippines that talks about home, housing, lot, real estate, & property news, tips, and trends. Get the input you need on real estate here.

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