The Clients


We started searching before our house sold and of course, we found a GREAT opportunity but we agreed that two mortgages were not what we wanted with no guarantee we could sell.  (Though we had already discussed updates for the house we found, a master suite addition, and I developed a 3D study model…  cart, meet horse and lead the way?)

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s take a look at the clients and find out what they were looking for.  The interesting thing about home searches or design is that it brings out major priority differences between partners.  When designing homes, I’m frequently asked if I also offer marriage counseling!  I could become a double threat, though not as impressive as Tobias Funke.

The clients are young creative professionals—Steve is an architect and Melissa is a technical writer with a lot of experience in interactive and information design and project management.  Pretty much yuppies.  Yuppies with puppies (rescues, of course).

My (Steve’s) goal is to find a great opportunity—either an existing house that I could completely remodel or cheap land to build on.  It’s cheaper to buy an existing house, and in a hippy feel-good way is recycling.  But new land would offer a blank canvas!  In either case, my major goal was to find something that could become modestly significant architecture.  And I’m hell bent on a modern style.

For the kind of overhaul in my mind, a house has to be completely outdated and in need of love.  After all, I’d hate to have a place where the seller just installed new carpet and granite countertops only to demolish them so I could rearrange the floor plan in an effort  to ‘capture the right views’.  (That’s archy speak.  Though more often than not, existing homes need changed for better room adjacencies.) I’d have to pay for new countertops and carpet twice.  That’s dumb.

More importantly, I wanted to be closer to downtown to minimize both of our commutes, and preferably be some place with visibility—for exposure of my grand architectural masterpiece!

Melissa was leery of an overhaul process that could leave us bathroom-less (or kitchen-less, or bedroom-less, etc.) for any extended length of time.  She was okay with a major remodel, but kept an eye out for opportunities where phased construction could keep us fully functional.

The major difference is that she wanted more permanence, a traditional cottage or craftsman style with a contemporary feel, privacy, and a wooded lot that provided a retreat from the metropolitan environment where we both work.

Since architecture is my passion, she’s willing to relent on style (especially after a tour of our friends home proved that modern can also be warm and inviting).  But we had a lot of frustration compromising on whether this place would be a stepping stone or our 30 year home, an infill lot or in an idyllic countryside with a monster commute etc.

All things compromised, this is what our search criteria looked like:


  • minimum 2 bd / 2 bath
  • no major updates already in place
  • must have homes valued $95k above asking price or greater within a 2 block radius
  • is not restricted in architectural style by association covenants or design review opinions
  • must be inside I-465 loop
  • preference given to ~.5 acre or greater lot sizes
  • preference given to Washington township
  • preference given to existing, unfinished basements
  • preference given to wooded lot


  • ~.5 acres or greater
  • must have homes of a target value or greater within a 2 block radius
  • is not restricted in architectural style by association covenants or design review opinions
  • preference given to wooded lot

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