Young Architect Conference: Winter Series 2022

The latest season of the Young Architect Conference is fast approaching and we could not be more thrilled for the next leg of the series! Previous blogs have gone over the kinds of seminars and workshops present in the summer series but we are strapped in and ready for the new content in this upcoming winter portion! Last year was the beginning of a different setup when it came time for this event, everything became digital and the seminars now took place in the comforts of our own homes!

Some of us even got creative with having a remote workshop and faced challenges in being productive and focused in the comfort of our homes. Our very own Caitlin Morgan, co-creator of Emerge Construction cracked the code to make sure she was engaged every day of the series. By rearranging her at-home office and clearing out unneeded distractions she was able to achieve her ideal study space (Amazing what the power of design can do for your behavior). A surprising benefit that accompanied this change is the ease of networking, thanks to the digital realm it has become far easier for architects throughout the country to connect and stay connected during and after the conference.

The series begins on January 21st and will go through the 25th, it will be featuring several different field experts along with engaging workshops and note-worthy lectures, our very own Charles Hendricks will be giving a lecturing on Empathetic Design; Serve Your Clients While Serving Your Community – we hope to see you there!

Do You Want a Custom Home or Just a New Home?

If you have never built a new home, you most likely don’t know where to start. You have probably heard that you can find plans online. You have probably heard you should talk to a builder. You have probably heard you need to be careful because you might get taken advantage of in the process. There are a lot of questions and you really do have to trust a lot of people to give you good answers. So what questions should you ask when getting started? Who should you trust?

Custom home

Harrisonburg farmhouse

I realize I am biased in this, but you should talk to an architect first. Call or email me your questions, seriously. Everyday we guide people through the process in an organized fashion to help you know who to trust, what questions to ask, and how to protect yourself. The most basic and first question that you should ask is – do you want a custom home or just a new home?

Custom home

Soapstone kitchen

Your goals with a custom home should be different than just a new home. A new home is probably designed first with “re-sale value” in mind. A new home probably has a “few features you don’t need, maybe don’t want” but will be marketable in the future. A new home probably is not designed specifically for you with your life goals, habits, and preferences in mind. A custom home however, has specific features, room sizes, and layouts that you need to enhance your way of life. Rooms are right sized for how you live. Conversations during design for a custom home revolve around your life, not just how big, how much, what color. A custom home will cost you less to build per square-foot than a new home of equal quality. A custom home is adapted to your needs, budget, habits, goals, and future.

Custom home

Harrisonburg farmhouse

If you are thinking about building and you are searching online for a plan, perhaps take a step back and decide if you want just a new home or if you want a custom home. Don’t spend money on “less design” to save money, it only costs you more during construction. Spend time planning out exactly what you want, in other words – Design Matters.

Renovation Project: Finding Treasures Inside Walls

Check out this cool find inside a wall on a renovation project

You never know what to expect in the walls of a renovation project. There are always things hiding from the construction process in the past. From coke bottles to beer bottles things get tossed inside of walls and sit there for years waiting to be exposed again. On a recent project in downtown Harrisonburg, this cool find was inside a wall. The date on the newspaper is April 18, 1973 about two months before I was born. The contractor found it as he was doing demo and it was just left on the floor in the pile of trash.


The biggest competition in the architectural profession is “no design.”

The architectural industry is an interesting one (and the only one I really know, so probably not unlike any others) in that as architects we compete for a very small pool of projects against each other, but we all rely on each other to promote the industry as a whole. The biggest competition for an architect is “no design” and boy does that happen a lot! Many don’t know what we (architects) do, don’t understand our value, or simply think they cannot afford to hire an architect.


I spend a lot of time promoting the idea of design. I know it brings me opportunities, because my clients have told me they want good design. I know it benefits our industry because it brings awareness to the idea of design and therefore it helps other architects. It is important to me that everyone understand the value added to having good design for the built environment as it impacts our community, our daily life, and our future. Here are some folks in our industry that are doing way more than I could ever do and having a tremendous impact on our world.

Studio MM promotes good design by promoting other architects. Marica posts a different architect’s work on her social media pages every week showing off design that she loves that is done by others. This is an incredibly generous gift to give that other architect, but also a wonderful way to share her love of design with her potential clients.


I am forever grateful to Cherise Schacter for her constant and overwhelming support of our industry on social media. Cherise is an incredible person / professional / Kraken that tirelessly promotes excellence in the design industry. I am not sure how she manages to keep up with all of the relationships she has built on SM and in person, but she does it with passion. Her work to promote the design industry is helping us all.


Joshua Lloyd works hard to teach others about sustainable residential design. This is a huge help to those of us focused on green design. First his work helps me know better the right solutions for my clients and second he is promoting a similar message so potential clients hear it from multiple sources. I have heard from many other design firms that don’t believe SM is important for our industry, I think Joshua is showing that it is very important.


Bob Borson created a series that is geared to show what we do as architects. The #ArchiTalks series includes some of the best architectural thinkers of our time! I know I have learned from these posts and it is certainly promoting our industry in a positive manner. Bob specifically brings the profession down to a human scale by showing the life of an architect from Christmas lists, to moving into a new office, to helping the next generation understand the industry.His approach to outreach is informal, fun, and inviting. This is how you promote an industry in a positive manner.


What are All Those Certifications, and Do They Add Value to Your Project?

In the construction industry, like many others, there are many certifications, professional designations, and credentials. So does it add value to you for your project? How do you know it shows added expertise? Should I hire someone who does not have a particular certification? Learning more about what the initials stand for will help you evaluate what matters to you. Looking for someone who has gone through the added training that will benefit your project is a key to selecting the right team.

So let me define some of the more common letters you see after the names of prominent architects:

RA (often not used if a member of AIA) – Registered Architect – this means you are legally empowered to practice architecture. You can start your own firm, seal, stamp, or sign your own drawings, and turn your client’s ideas into reality. For a design project this is the base level designation that shows the person has achieved a certain level of education, experience, and knowledge. Without it, you have no way of knowing if the ‘designer’ has achieved any level of competence in design as measured by testing. Architects are responsible for protecting the public’s health, safety, and welfare, so earning the license is not an easy task. Hiring someone to design your home or business with this designation will give you peace of mind. This is the designation that holds an architect accountable for their actions.


Certifications demonstrate knowledge of the construction process, contractual relationships, and construction contract administration procedures.

AIA – indicates you are an RA and a member in good standing with the American Institute of Architects. You can be an “Assoc. AIA” without being an RA. Certifications

CSI – indicates you are a member in good standing with the Construction Specifications Institute.

NCARB – indicates you hold a National Council of Architectural Review Board certificate which speeds the reciprocity process. Most don’t add this to their signature unless soliciting work that might require licensure in another State in the future.

CDT – The Construction Documents Technology (CDT) Program provides a comprehensive overview for anyone who writes, interprets, enforces, or manages construction documents. By being able to understand and interpret written construction documents, CDTs perform their jobs more effectively. By understanding the roles and relationships of all participants, CDTs improve communication among all members of the construction team.

CCS – A Certified Construction Specifier (CCS) is a skilled product researcher who knows how to investigate and identify cost-effective, efficient solutions, and then communicate those solutions through the specifications. CCS certifications demonstrate advanced knowledge in all aspects of specifications development, including contractual relationships, organization, preparation and enforcement.

CCCA – Certified Construction Contract Administration (CCCA) certification teaches you to develop, administer and enforce construction documentation. CCCA c

LEED AP – The LEED AP credential affirms your advanced knowledge in green building as well as expertise in a particular LEED rating system. The LEED AP BD+C credential suits professionals with expertise in the design and construction phases of green buildings serving the commercial, residential, education and healthcare sectors.

LEED GA – This in an entry-level certification that is required to achieve the LEED AP once you have more experience in green building. The LEED Green Associate credential demonstrates a solid and current foundation in green building principles and practices. From marketers to lawyers, landscape architects to education professionals, and product manufacturers to policymakers, LEED Green Associates enjoy a broad understanding of sustainability that bolsters their careers.Certifications

CAPS – The Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation program teaches the technical, business management, and customer service skills essential to competing in the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry: home modifications for the aging-in-place. CAPS professionals have the answers to your questions. They have been taught the strategies and techniques for designing and building aesthetically enriching, barrier-free living environments. The CAPS program goes beyond design to address the codes and standards, common remodeling expenditures and projects, product ideas, and resources needed to provide comprehensive and practical aging-in-place solutions. CAPS graduates pledge to uphold a code of ethics and are required to maintain their designation by attending continuing education programs and participating in community service.

CGP – The Certified Green Professional designation recognizes builders, remodelers and other industry professionals who incorporate green building principles into homes— without driving up the cost of construction. Classwork leading to the designation provides a solid background in green building methods, as well as the tools to reach consumers, from the organization leading the charge to provide market-driven green building solutions to the home building industry.

What other certifications do you think add value to your architect? Let me know – I am always looking for a new challenge. Next up for me is the CCCA.