Who came First?

In the 11 year history of Custom Design Services and in the accumulation of years of our experience, we are often asked by new clients to share our education and skills. In those early discussions we talk about our education and experience leading up to working for our clients through CDS and we always explain that we are not architects, but building designers. Some people have never heard of a building designer and some have specifically come to us because we are not architects.

In 1857 a group of architects formed the American Institute of Architects in order to prevent masons, carpenters and other craftsmen from calling them selves architects. News of the organization spread rapidly and only 30 years later, there were chapters in 11 other cities. In 1886, Louise Bethune became the first woman member of AIA! In 1897 Illinois began licensing their architects and it was more than 50 years before all other states were also licensing architects. Frank Lloyd Wright chose not to be licensed until he was in his 70’s and in which prior to that time he designed and built over 300 homes.

Today there are thousands of building designers, like Wright, practicing with out an architectural license. The difference between an architect and a building designer is simply….well there’s actually not much difference in residential design. We design homes and provide construction documents for permitting, bidding and construction. If the city or neighborhood requires it; certified designers can seal the plans as well. Just like architects, designers must follow all the building codes and deed restrictions. The difference is that you are likely to find a great value in the services of a building designer because the fees are generally lower. Designers are also limited to designing homes less than 30,000 square feet, but I am sure that would not be a problem for most people.

One thing to be certain of is that designers and architects alike are suitable and capable of designing beautiful, functional and sustainable homes and either has different levels of talents. The difference for homeowners will be to find the personality and talent that fits their project.

Many designers are certified! Look for the C.P.B.D. (Certified Professional Building Designer) after their name. We are tested in an intensive 20 hour nine part exam on design, code, structure, and architectural history to name a few, by NCBDC, a national, private and independent testing agency. At Custom Design Services, we are proud to have 4 certified designers on staff and we are all members of TIBD and AIBD as well.

Cammi Klier; C.P.B.D. Founder
I am the founder of CDS 11 years ago next month! I have 18 years of experience in the residential home design field and worked for both an architectural firm and a national home building company leading up to the start of CDS in 1997. My degree from Texas State University is a BS in Interior design with masters’ level course work in Landscape Architecture.

Debra Blessman; C.P.B.D. Partner
I have 28 years of experience in the residential home design field. I have worked for a home builder as well as two architectural firms in that time. At the beginning of 2007 I joined CDS as Cammi’s partner. My degree is a five year BS program in Housing and Interior Design that I received at Colorado State University.

Carter Shackelford; C.P.B.D. our resident expert on permitting
I began my career in Pasadena, CA under the watchful eyes of an A.I.A. Architect and Seismic Engineer. I recently returned to Austin, where I graduated from the University of Texas in 1997.

Rob Smith; C.P.B.D. a master of details and construction documents

My 18 yrs in the Land Development Industry gives the team at CDS a unique perspective in site planning on environmentally sensitive and difficult lots. I pay close attention to integrating your residence w/ the natural conditions of the property. I am a conservationist and I believe we should live with our environment instead of restructuring it.

You will have an opportunity to visit with us at the Austin Green Living Home Products Expo on April 18 – 20. Please come by our booth and say Hi, we would love to meet you!

I would like to express sincere gratitude for all those who have enjoyed reading and given us such wonderful feedback about our newsletter. We love to hear from you! Since 2006, I have been the sole writer, but in the coming months you will hear from our other designers and their specific expertise.

In the words of my partner, Debra; “I really think the level of personal service we give is the most critical and striking difference. I really want people to understand about the importance of the orientation of their home and how they are going to live in it and how they will use that home, or why it will be a problem that they want to have vaulted ceilings thru-out the entire house or why they can’t put an HVAC unit under the stairs……and it just goes on from there. It’s not just a design; it’s kind of an enclosed ecosystem! Yes, it should be pleasing to the eye and follow design theories but most importantly it must function for the inhabitants and be a place they love to be in and grow in.”