Lean Design Blog: Elevations – what's in a name?

March 21, 2012

Why bother naming your houses? It would be a whole lot easier and more efficient to identify your homes by their square footage. It could be argued that the Saddlebrook should be called the 2429 plan. It makes perfect sense, the plan is 2429 square feet, so let's call it what it is. The purchasing manager, field supervisor, estimator and trades would love it. A simple designation for the plan that is clearly communicated and understood by all.

So why go to all the trouble to give the design a name that will cause confusion. The reason is obvious: customers will have a harder time falling in love with a 2429 plan than they would a Saddlebrook. They want to tell their friends and family that they live in a Saddlebrook at Copper Ridge. Emotion wins over logic, again - mystery solved.

So why is it as an industry we continue to label our elevations as A, B, C, etc.? Why not design an elevation that is true to a period or a style and name it appropriately? Let your customers tell their family and friends that they live in a Saddlebrook English Tudor or a Chesterfield Eastern Seaboard. There are several advantages to this:

  • Designing authentic elevations will help you stand out amongst your competition.
  • Creating a name that reflects the elevation style will emotionally appeal to your customers.
  • Your elevations will never go out of style. Twenty years from now you can drive through one of your developments and be assured that your work will never be dated.

Here are the steps to create an unbeatable lineup:

  1. Design plans that meet the needs of your current buyer.
  2. Pay attention to trends.
  3. Design the plans with Lean in mind, optimizing material usage.
  4. Design authentic elevations and name them appropriately.

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? I suppose. Would an elevation by any other name sell as well? Nope.


Todd Hallett, AIA, president of TK Design & Associates has been designing award-winning homes for more than 20 years. He spent 15 of those years working for a $50 million production building company. Todd designed all of its homes but also worked in every other aspect of the company including purchasing, development, land acquisition, product development, and operations, and was president of the company for three years. Equipped with his vast building experience and fueled by his love for architecture he left to form an architecture firm that is second to none in working cohesively with builders. Todd specializes in Lean Design and works, alongside Scott Sedam of TrueNorth Development, in the trenches with builders, suppliers, and trade contractors. Todd welcomes your feedback at thallett@tkhomedesign.com or 248.446.1960.


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