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"Getting Started"

Steven Clipp, Architect | September 2014 Issue

Would you believe your home can increase the joy in your life, strengthen your family bonds and even deepen the romance with your partner.  Architect Steven Clipp has spent 30 years exploring the psychology of how we live.  He knows he can do all this and more.

"More" includes creating visually striking homes, in many styles but subtly standing out from their neighbors.  He has won Home Book Publishers gold award for Best Home Design in North Carolina and twice won Governors Club’s award for Best Home Design.  He approaches every home he designs as an individual, handcrafted masterpiece.

In addition to his architectural practice, Clipp hosts a call-in radio show, “Making Your Home Great,” on Thursday mornings at 9 on WPTK (850-AM). Each week features a co-host and a lively discussion; the first Thursday of the month focuses on additions / porches, the second on interior design, the third on kitchen and bath, and the last week on energy solutions.  You can call in for answers to your specific home design questions.

On the internet station ‘Voice America’, he has also recorded hour-long monologues on how to achieve your Dream Home.  These are archived in podcast form at Titles include: 

  • Creating Romance in the Home

  • Preparing Your Home for the Teenage Years

  • Hiring a Contractor

  • Why Hire an Architect?

In fact, why hire an Architect?  Why not save a fee and go straight to the Contractor?


Better spaces/function/looks: The Contractor has spent his career figuring how to construct that wall and stop that roof from leaking.  The Architect has spent his thinking about what is the most pleasing arrangement of windows and what is the optimum screen porch for your home; exploring the full range of design options and developing the best solution – not a repeat of his last job.


Less cost and better cost control:  One aspect of design is optimizing the benefit for the money spent, such as reallocating space within your home rather than building additional space.  Another is gaining two or three benefits for any action.  Further, the cost of any renovation project will vary widely by Contractor.  If you have a good set of plans you can competitively price the work with several companies.  The difference in their prices for the same work will almost always exceed the Architect’s fee.  If you get only one price it is rarely the best price.

More control and assurance:  Knowledge is power, in any negotiation the party with more knowledge has the upper hand.  The Architect is your advisor, he has a professional duty to act in your interest.  The Contractor acts in his own interest and his interest is often in conflict with the Owner’s.  The Architect’s knowledge at least equals the Contractor’s, so the power is balanced.  Plus,a good set of documents eliminates a lot of potential conflict.  The Architect’s role during construction is to head off conflict and smooth the path to completion.

Well what about using a Residential Designer?

Choosing a Residential Designer rather than an Architect is akin to choosing a Scrub Nurse rather than a Surgeon to do your operation. A designer usually starts off as a draftsman, picking up what knowledge of design he can as he does routine drawing tasks.  The Licensed Architect has five or six years of college, followed by three years of internship and a licensing exam which only 25% pass in any given year.  Further there is so much to learn in this craft that it takes twenty years after college to truly become proficient.

If the Residential Designer is hired by or recommended through the Contractor, his client is really the Contractor and he will look out for the Contractor’s interests.  However the Architect is referred, if he is hired by the Owner he is required by his license to represent the Owner’s interests.

Steve Clipp believes everyone should use an Architect on all sizes of projects.  Dream Homes come in all price ranges and he has done cost effective work on $150K homes as well as $1.5M homes.  Whether you desire a new deck, a rejuvenated master bath, a sunroom addition or a stunning castle on the hill – it makes sense to get the best design and have the work done at the best price with the least hassle.

To this end, he charges only $95 for an initial consult.  For some people that is all they need, an idea of what is possible.  Beyond this, he charges a below market $95 an hour for his time.  Often this works out to less than 5% of the cost of the work.  A great idea is to have him look at a house you are thinking of making an offer on before you buy.

Wait – You lead off this article talking about enhancing romance in the home?

Go to and listen to the podcast, or look for a future column.   

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