The Beauty of an Architectural Model

I often build study models when designing a new home. It is a quickly printed on cardstock model.  The exterior views/walls are the elevations I designed printed to scale using my Revit software. I align all the sides of the home and print them out on a long strip and then I score and fold at the outside corners of home. Add the roofs and voila the house is done! I enjoy designing homes that are true to history vernacular using simple roofs that are easy to build. A simple gable is a strong powerful roof line. A hip roof line can be equally dynamic.  Thankfully a home that is easy to build in a paper model is usually easy to build in real life at true scale!

Study model of custom home on steeply sloping land.

Designing a custom home isn’t just about the home and its rooms.  It needs to consider the owners and how they will use the home just not the day the move in but for years to come.  An aspect often overlooked or mostly likely not understood is that a custom home is not only tailored to the owner but also it is designed for the EXACT land it will be interwoven with.   The land your home is part of is critical to the design of your home! What are the views? Does it slope? How will location impact shade and ventilation? Building the land for a model can take me hours for even a simple study model. Much longer than printing and folding the the home!


Study model of custom home of steeply sloping land built between two existing homes.
Study model before being folded!


I design additions or remodel existing homes where the chief complaint of the existing home is that it is dark or doesn’t take into account the view. Often the the windows are on the wrong side! A lake house without a great view to lake, a cabin with more windows to the road than the creek or a house without any windows on the side yet it on acres!  Likely these were not custom homes but a found builder plan that sadly could be built anywhere from a suburb in New York to a home on acreage in Kansas or near a canyon in California. Yes the same house plan yet three distinct locations with unique features that are not even considered is not custom or even close to being site specific. Building a custom home allows you to design your home taking into account the unique features of you land. It also allows you to study where the sun is and what rooms will be warm and sunny in the winter and also perhaps shaded in the hot summer with carefully designed roof overhangs.

Study model exploring how walkout would work with slope of land.

A study model allows a client to spin it around to instantly understand the home. I shine the flashlight  application from my phone to demonstrate  how the sun angles will shine on the home. It is approximate but quickly explains it. More detailed sun studies are done using the ACAD BIM software Revit and adding the precise time and location.  It is wonderful to have the model handy when the house is being priced a builder or on the site as a framer can comprehend the design in a matter of moments!


Study model. The next revision moved the garage doors to face the other direction. Model was very useful!



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