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Return on Design Investment: Identify and Value Good Design

My dad founded our firm, and when he passed away suddenly in 1995, the firm fell on my lap at 22 years old. I was still in school, and I took the reins. I’ve been at the firm ever since. Our best clients for years have had one thing in common — the ability to identify and value good design.

Getting a financial, as well as psychological, return on design investment happens through open communication. We take the time to talk with our clients and hear their feedback. This way, they gain clarity. We translate their needs into a design that they weren’t quite expecting … with a balance of surprise and stability. Clients can express desires and needs to us in a way that is clear, in an ethereal conceptual way that gives us room to bring in our creativity.


Saving the turtles with a creative design solution

One of our projects we’re currently working on is located near a national park. Green turtles lay their eggs, and to protect them, many restrictions are in place which affect our design parameters. To build the home, we were restricted to a single-story build, with a low maximum height, and because the clients want a swimming pool, it’s got to be built above ground to protect the baby turtles. Otherwise, the turtles could start going inland and fall into an in-ground pool. What do we do to meet the client’s needs and the turtles’ needs? We talk.

The clients want the biggest home possible. The lot is 1200 square meters, and we can only build on 600. Our solution — place the pool on top of the house, which creates an additional gathering space, a roof terrace with an ocean view. As we presented the design to the client, I wondered, will she understand and envision it?

The owner put the 3D virtual reality goggles on, and she was so engaged in the design, she didn’t even realize there was no pool. Then, at the end, we revealed the staircase leading up to the terrace, opening to the pool. She was blown away. She said it was the best design she’s ever seen. She would have never imagined that we’d have come up with this type of solution with the maximum size that she wanted, complying 100% with the park’s regulations. That’s what we mean by Return on Design Investment — giving the client the best value for their money and a psychological satisfaction. Also, this home will take in the highest rental fee in the entire community.



Without this attention to detail, the result is bad design and that angers the community. Lawyers can get involved, and the client doesn’t always get what they want. The construction site, or even the completed project, can get demolished. What happens to all of the investment? Where’s the financial return? A person in this position could have saved a lot of money if he had hired a capable architect who communicates with everyone involved.

Your luxury vacation home will surely affect your heart just as it will your life and your wallet in both the short term due to ease, being on schedule and being on budget (or the lack of those qualities) and the long term due to happiness and rental value.


The Financial Return on Design Investment in a Luxury Rental Vacation Home

Short term, the clients enjoy an escape to the vacation home in the location of their choice. We deliver our projects keeping in mind that if they decide to put it on a luxury rental website, their home will be rented more often and for the highest price.

Homes we’ve designed, Casa Magayon costs $5,000 – $11,500 / night and CieloMar at $7,143 – $14,286 / night ($14,286/night at Christmas) on Luxury Retreats, and are constantly occupied. Meanwhile, homes that we have not designed in this vicinity only go for $1,100.

Long term, a well-designed home adds tremendous value to the property and prosperity for the owner’s property. I ensure they’ll have a financial gain, as compared to someone else who may not sell the home for full price … some poorly designed houses don’t even sell at all.

When you put money into designing and building your home, you are shifting the form of your wealth; but with good design, that money is not disappearing. Your wealth is growing.



Escaping to Your Favorite Place: The Psychological Return on Design Investment

As we navigate the site and the program, we consider the clients’ financial and psychological well-being. They are busy. Yet they want, need and deserve to disconnect from their business lives at times and just relax. I hear from my previous clients that they enjoy the home, swim in their pool, and also have fun going out to snorkel and kayak in the bay. We keep them happy and healthy.

At the CieloMar home, the clients say they’re awestruck by the sunset. “We just stand there and take it in.”

Our clients who welcome us to stay at Casa Magayon feel at peace and reinvigorated. They find ways to come more often, because they get so much out of the experience.

Positive energy, through solid Return on Design Investment, is worth every penny.


You can also read this article on the Architect News website here:

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