Are you considering a residential renovation project? Are you thinking about building a new home from the ground up? Do you daydream about the house you'll have when that lotto ticket pays off? Or maybe you’re a design professional looking for inspiration. Maybe you know what you want but you need an architect to help make it a reality? Help is only a click away.

Pictures Worth a Thousand Words
In 2009, was created by a husband and wife frustrated by their inability to describe their vision for their home remodel to their architect. They asked local architects and design professionals to upload photos to their new site, creating an online source for other homeowners and remodelers to draw inspiration. The site has grown exponentially and now shares over 3 million photos from more than two million architects, contractors and other design professionals. It has become more than just a resource for images. Houzz now helps connect professionals with homeowners renovating or building a house and facilitates a dialogue that better communicates the homeowner’s dream.

 User Friendly Search Function Helps Homeowners
The ability of the user to sort thought millions of photos by room or architectural style, or search for key words or materials is one reason that Houzz has developed such a strong following. You can save your favorite photos in different “Ideabooks” that you can reference later or easily share.

Once you've got a good idea of what you want, it is time to search for help.
You can search nationwide, or limit your image search to a metro area. You won't see as many images but you can be sure the professional responsible is close by.

Professional Connections Made Easy
Not only do you have the ability to limit the search for images provided by local professionals, you can search in the new Houzz professional directory. You can look through their work and read reviews. You can even contact the professional from within the site, giving you a wealth of information to start the selection process.

The ability to create and share Ideabooks really shines when you begin to work with an architect, design professional or contractor. RDM Architecturefrequently encounters clients who have already created extensive Ideabooks for each space. Not only does the Ideabook allow us as to get a broad idea of the homeowners' style, it helps as we move through the design process with everything from cabinet styles to paint colors to landscaping. Creating a shared Ideabook for the project in the very beginning keeps the visual dialogue going, makes it easy to share images and ensures everyone is on the same page.professional directory. You can look through their work and read reviews. You can even contact the professional from within the site, giving you a wealth of information to start the selection process.

Whether you are about to start a project or are in the midst of one, Houzz has become a great tool. If you haven't explored the site, log on to, look through some photos, and check out RDM Architecture’s page. You're bound to find some inspiration and get your project off on the right foot.e selection process.



While icicles hanging off of roofs or gutters might look beautiful, they are actually a sign of problems. Icicles typically mean an ice dam is nearby which spells trouble for homeowners.

What are ice dams?

Ice dams form when melting snow on a roof refreezes at the edge of the roof. The snow melts because of heat rising through the house, warming the roof to a temperature above 32° F. The melted snow then runs down the roof and re-freezes as it gets past the exterior wall and hits the uninsulated overhang of the roof creating an ice dam.

What causes ice dams?

Typically warm attic spaces occur because of inadequate ventilation through the attic, which is necessary to keep the roof deck cold. In addition to poor ventilation, the temperature in the attic is increased by lack of insulation in the ceiling, uninsulated recessed ceiling can lights, uninsulated attic stair openings, heating ducts and improperly vented bathroom fans.

Note: Vaulted spaces with foam insulation is a discussion for another time.

What damage can they cause?

Eventually, the ice dam will become tall enough that the melting snow will have no place to go except for under the shingles and into the exterior wall, ceiling or attic. Water infiltration into the interior of the house can cause warping and staining of drywall and paint, reduce the performance of insulation and create a damp environment which promotes the growth of mold. On the exterior, if an ice dam gets large enough, it can damage gutters and flashing.

How can they be prevented?

1. Properly ventilate the roof and attic.

2. Reduce or eliminate sources of heat into the attic, insulating around ductwork and sealing leaks around recessed can lights.

3. Increase the insulation in the attic floor.

4. Keep gutters and downspouts clean.

5. If you are building a new house or if you are having an existing house re-roofed, install an ice and water shield along the overhangs of the house. An ice and water shield is a self adhesive roofing membrane that is installed under the shingles and roofing felt to give an added layer of protection.

6. Contact a professional for help if you have major problems - roofers, HVAC contractors or architects are all good resources.

Pretty or not, icicles are unwanted guests in your home. While a future winter storm may seem like a long way off, now is the time to protect yourself against next year's ice dams.

Note: Thanks to Kevin Vaught, at Larry L.Vaught Roofing for contributing to this article.

Five tips to help avoid the biggest home renovation blunders


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April 17, 2012
by Rick McDermott, AIA

Do you love your neighborhood, but your house is old and out-of-date? Do lifestyle changes have you struggling in your current space? Has disaster put your home in a state of disrepair? These are just a few examples of why you might choose to renovate. Here’s five tips to get you started on the right track.

1. Write out a wish list. Think big (i.e. bigger space to entertain, more outdoor living area, room for hobbies, etc.). And think small (i.e. a place to store the ironing board, a place to store sports gear out of sight, etc.). List everything you want. There will be time to pare down later. Make sure everyone living in the house has a voice. Then come together and prepare a master list.

2. Get help from a registered architect. Architects do more than design --- they are trained to look at the big picture, interpret your wish list, ask questions, help prioritize your wants and needs, solve problems and provide creative solutions. By listening to what their clients want and adding a fresh perspective, architects present alternatives that might never have been imagined.


Adapting Your Home for a Changing Lifestyle

aging gracefully3
(left to right) 1.Grab bars were incorporated throughout the bathroom for ease of movement. 2. In addition to the mirror above the vanity a full height mirror was added. You can also see the entry to the roll-in shower and the shower seat as well as the grab bar at the toilet. 3. In order to make the dishwasher more accessible it was raised to bar height. This is a simple change but can make a great deal of difference. 

March 9, 2012
by Mike Schumacher
RDM Architecture

As the baby boomer generation matures, the phenomenon known as “aging in place”  is gaining momentum.  More and more people are looking at ways to make changes to their existing home to help them live there as long as possible. And the trend is just beginning.  In fact, according to a recent report published by AARP, 78% of adults between the ages of 50 and 64 report that they want to stay in their current residence as they age.  Furthermore, one-third of American households are home to one or more residents 60 years of age or older.
The good news is, there are many opportunities to renovate, remodel or add on to your existing home to help you age in place.  Architects familiar with universal design* principals can help determine what options would work well for you.  Read on and check out this list to see examples of how you can help your home age gracefully, right along with you.


 Decamp Residence_2010_001_copy

February 1, 2012
by Kurt Kraisinger, RLA, LEED AP
Principal, Lorax Design Group

Are you dreaming of a patio, pergola structure or new swimming pool in your backyard? Or maybe you’re thinking about an outdoor kitchen, a stone fireplace, a water feature or a landscape full of four-season color? For those homeowners who don’t want to go down the path of a “do-it-yourself” job, you may need the assistance of an architect or a landscape architect (who often work in collaboration with one another). Each of these design elements require a trained-eye to assist with the programming of how the space outside of your home works with the space inside your home, and to ensure the outdoor space enhances your lifestyle

Our lifestyles change all the time, and transforming the exterior of your home is an important investment. For these reasons you’re smart to consider looking at a comprehensive view of your home's outdoor spaces, and forecasting what you want and need in the coming years. Well-trained landscape architects encourage clients to share their dreams, tell a story or recreate those great family experiences so that together, you will create a design that responds to how you want to feel in the comfort of your new outdoor living area.


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