Ring’s End went “on the record” with Michael McKinley & Associates of Stonington, CT about how to avoid common pitfalls when coordinating the design of your custom home. Here’s some sound advice to consider before you begin the process of working with an Architect:


Occasionally, a potential client will call and ask, “How much does a set of drawings cost?” It’s often followed up with, “We know exactly what we want on the interior,” or “We’ve done this before.” Here’s what we tell them: The cost of your custom home will break down to approximately 50% for the exterior and 50% for the interior. Your set of drawings should include all interior elevations (not just a few); finishes, kitchen cabinets, built-ins, stair detail and lighting. The absence of these leaves too much room for runaway cost extras, uncoordinated design and rocky relations with both the builder and architect. Remember, the more that can be included in the initial contract price the less you will pay for specific line items. Revisions and change orders during construction can require extensive re-design, re-bidding and re-scheduling.

A successful interior needs detailing, specifications, input from craftsmen and a continuing dialog between the homeowner and the architect. It’s also a discovery process that takes place while the house is being built. There are a lot of elements that need to be balanced to your preferences and budget.


Floor samples in our office

We often joke that our office looks like a wood flooring showroom because we work directly with flooring manufacturers to select and even create custom finishes for our clients. This can be daunting to the uninitiated because the options include: selection of wood, board width, stains, whitewashing, oil and polyurethane finishes, and hand work to create an aged appearance. The flooring is one of the most important decisions on the interior.

Michael McKinley Architect,Bookends, Watch Hill, Rhode Island

Custom Walnut Floor that our firm specified for a home in Watch Hill, RI.

Another critical interior element is lighting. You’ve probably heard it before but it’s worth repeating, lighting can make or break a house. With the rapid development of energy efficient LED light fixtures, it’s difficult for professionals to keep up. As integrated LED lights become more prevalent, deciding which one to select can be challenging. You can’t switch out the bulb because it’s integrated into the fixture. Our firm does both the lighting plan and lighting specification to ensure suitable function and appearance.

A good architect never stops designing until the entire house is finished. The homeowner who takes advantage of this will maximize both quality and aesthetics while saving time and money.