Jeff Day is the founder of Jeff Day & Associates, a Manchester-based architecture firm specialized in beautiful, sustainable design. Jeff and his team have been our partners in many of our residential construction projects, including our Active House USA project - the first Active House in North America. We sat down with Jeff to learn what sets his firm apart.
Q: One of the reasons, we've partnered with you on so many projects is your expertise in sustainability. Can you share more about your decision to focus on sustainable design?
A: As a company, sustainable design is at the core of what we do because we do believe in reducing negative impact on the environment - but also because it really makes the most financial sense for our clients. Building a green home or a high performance home provides real value in a client's investment from day one. When we design a high performance home, a client's home has lower operating costs, less maintenance, and lower utilities each month.
Q: What do you feel is your firm's greatest area of expertise?
A: People come to us because we understand sustainable design. What they don't know until we talk is that one of the most important elements of sustainable design is daylighting - and we are truly experts. We know which windows are best for your home and where to place them. We know how to control natural light and to put it to work for you.
Q: Why is solar orientation so important in the design of a new construction home?
A: Daylighting reduces energy costs by reducing the need for artificial lighting, but it also makes the home a generally more pleasant and comfortable place to be.
Building a home without consideration of solar orientation and daylighting, can lead to a beautiful home that's unbearably uncomfortable. For example, if your dining room has the heat of the setting sun streaming in each night at dinner time, you won't want to use that space. Not only will it be overheating the space, but the light will be glaring, and the sun will be fading your furniture.
When you buy a cookie cutter home on a cookie cutter lot, you often don't have the option to consider solar orientation - so you end up with a home that has inconvenient and impractical light - or sometimes no natural light at all. When you're building a custom home, you have the opportunity to make everything about the home better - and elements like natural lighting, when incorporated properly into your design, can make a home a true joy to live in.
Q: What is your design process like? How do you work with clients to help them realize a design that's right for them?
A: One of the things that sets us apart from other architects is that our design process is highly collaborative. When our clients leave a meeting with us, they feel like they've really had an active hand in designing their home. First, we learn about how they will live in the home - and then we design a space that will fit their needs.
In our meetings, we help them clarify their thoughts and to visualize what's possible through with high tech renderings and computer programs - and with old fashioned paper and pen. Many times, we'll pull out our drafting paper, hand everyone a marker and begin daydreaming and sketching together.
As an architect that works very closely with local builders and suppliers, I know what it costs to build a home - and that's another important part of our design process - guiding people to achieve as much of their wish list within their budget.
In the end, our hope is that our clients have a home that really aligns with their priorities and that will serve them well in their day to day life.
Q: If you had one piece of advice to give clients designing their first custom home, what would it be?
A: Once you begin the design process, quit Pinterest and Houzz cold turkey. These are incredible tools up front to help you research ideas and clarify your vision, but once design is underway, they can confuse the design process causing redos and major changes that will drive up your design costs. Use them up front, then forget your login while design is underway.
Examples of Jeff's Design:
About Jeff Day & Associates
Jeff Day has studied architecture under some of St. Louis' most recognized architects. His years of practical experience, coupled with his artistic talent, provide a solid base for the work he produces. He has worked with many of St. Louis' established builders and developers throughout the years, and has designed several award-winning homes along the way.
His firm, Jeff Day & Associates launched in 2006. Since opening their doors, the team has grown to include a team of ten professionals with more than 100 years of collective design experience. To learn more about Jeff Day & Associates, visit www.jeffdayhomes.com.