If Architects Had to Work Like Programmers

Please design and build me a house. I am not sure of what I need; you should use your discretion. My house should have between two and forty-five bedrooms. Just make sure the plans are such that the bedrooms can be easily added or deleted. When you bring the blueprints to me, I will make the final decision of what I want. Also bring me the cost breakdown for each configuration so I can arbitrarily pick one. Keep in mind that the house I ultimately choose must cost less than the one I am currently living in. Make sure, however, that you correct all the deficiencies that exist in my current house (the floor of my kitchen vibrates when I walk across it and the walls don't have nearly enough insulation in them.)

As you design, also keep in mind that I want to keep yearly maintenance cost as low as possible. This should mean the incorporation of extra-cost features like aluminum, vinyl, or composite siding. (If you chose not to specify aluminum, be prepared to explain your decision in detail.)

Please take care that the modern design practices and the latest materials are used in the construction of the house, as I want it to be a showplace for the most up-to-date ideas and methods. Be alerted however, that the kitchen should be designed to accommodate, among other things, my 1952 Gibson refrigerator.

To insure that you are building the correct house for my entire family, make certain that you contact each of my children and also my in-laws. My mother-in-law will have very strong feelings about how the house should be designed, since she visits us at least once a year. Make sure that you weigh all these options carefully and come to the right decision. I, however, retain the right to overrule any choices you make.

Please don't bother me with small details right now. Your job is to develop the overall plans for the house, get the big picture. At this time, for example, it is not appropriate to be choosing the color of the carpet. Keep in mind, however that my wife likes blue.

Also do not worry at this time about acquiring the resources to build the house itself. Your first priority is to develop detailed plans and specifications. Once I approve these plans, however, I would expect the house to be under construction within 48 hours.

While you are designing this house specifically for me, keep in mind that sooner or later I will have to sell it to someone else. It therefore should appeal to a wide variety of potential buyers. Please make sure before you finalize the plans that there is a consensus of the population in my area that they like the features this house has.

I can advise you to run up and look at my neighbor's house he constructed last year. We like it a great deal. It has many of the features that we would also like in our new home, particularly the 75-foot swimming pool. With careful engineering, I believe that you can design this into our new house without impacting the final cost.

Please prepare a complete set of blueprints. It is not necessary at this time to do the real design, since they will be used for construction bids. Be advised, however, that you will be held accountable for any increase of construction costs as a result of later design changes.

You must be thrilled to be working on as interesting a project as this! To be able to use the latest techniques and materials and to be given such freedom in your designs is something that can't happen very often. Contact me as soon as possible with your complete ideas and plans.

PS My wife has just told me that she disagrees with many of the instructions I've given you in this letter. As architect, it is your responsibility to resolve these differences. I have tried in the past and have been unable to accomplish this. If you can't handle the responsibility, I will have to find another architect.

PPS Perhaps what I need is not a house at all, but a travel trailer. Please advise me as soon as possible if this is the case.

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