When The Not So Big House was first published in 1998, I frequently encouraged my readers to work with residential architects to design their new homes and remodelings. But I soon realized that, at that time, it was quite difficult for homeowners to identify which architects specialized in residential projects.
Although there have always been plenty of architects doing residential work, they weren’t visible to the public, or searchable in any way. It’s only in the last couple of decades that residential architects have had a way to draw attention to themselves—through their websites, social media, and online marketing—but in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, nobody knew where to find them.
So, having recognized the problem, I created the Home Professionals Directory, an online searchable listing of home professionals familiar with the principles described in my books. It connects readers not only to residential architects, but to all of the professionals they’ll need to help them realize their own Not So Big House dreams.
At each of my public lectures throughout the years, I let audience members know about the Directory, and I also encouraged all the professionals who want to design and build Not So Big houses to list themselves there, so that my readers can find them easily. It has worked like a charm, and for about 20 years now, the Directory has been successfully connecting homeowners with architects, designers, builders, and remodelers who embrace the Not So Big philosophy.
About 15 years ago, the dire need for this Directory became clear to me through one specific experience. I was giving a presentation to a chapter of the AIA (American Institute of Architects) in a large midwestern city. An architect who was a fan of my books picked me up at the airport, and as we drove to the venue, he proceeded to tell me in no uncertain terms that, sadly, there were very few homeowners in his city looking for architects. I asked if the AIA chapter sponsoring my talk had invited members of the public to my presentation (something I typically encourage all professional organizations to do). He said they had, but they weren’t counting on many people coming.
When we got to the event hall though, there was an enormous crowd. The AIA members were quite astonished. Their events didn’t typically attract the general public, even when invited, but clearly a large number of Not So Big fans had heard of the event and had arrived en masse. In fact, to make room for all those who had come to hear about better house design, many of the architects willingly gave up their seats for this surprise crowd, moving into the “standing room only” section in the back of the hall. They didn’t seem to mind. I think they were thrilled to discover so many non-architects interested in their profession.
I gave my presentation to the packed hall, and at the end, a woman in the audience asked, “Where can we find the architects you are telling us we need for our remodeling and building projects?”
I laughed and pointed to the back of the hall. “They are here, lined up along the walls. They didn’t know that you and all the Not So Big fans here tonight existed, but they do now!”
I urged the architects to make sure to list themselves on the Home Professionals Directory, and asked the homeowners to give the architects a couple of days to get their listings up before searching the Directory. Needless to say, we had a big surge in registrations that evening, and I believe many homeowners in attendance found the architects for their projects in the days following.
Although I cannot vet registrants, all those listed on the Directory are familiar with the Not So Big House books and concepts, and have listed themselves because they are interested in serving clients with high standards, who are looking for quality rather than quantity. As a homeowner looking to hire someone to help you, you must still do the due diligence involved, check references, interview, etc., but the Directory will help you to identify a subset of the architects and other professionals who are the most capable of helping you realize your Not So Big House dreams.
In addition to the searchable directory, if you scroll down the Home Professionals Directory page, you’ll find further resources to help you with your search, such as questions to ask each architect you interview, and links to helpful books and videos. I very much hope that the Directory helps you connect with the professionals you are looking for.
And architects, I hope the above story will convince you that there really are a lot of people who would hire you in heartbeat, if only they knew you were there. I encourage you to sign up for the Directory to connect with people who really want what you do. Or if you’re a current or past registrant, sign in to edit, renew, or upgrade your listing. I’ve found this group of Not So Big House fans to be the ideal clients, and it is my hope that you will too.
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