You have to admire architects, designers and contractors who can picture 3-dimentional space by looking at a set of blueprints. I'm not among them, and you might not be either. Of course, 3-D renderings on the computer have made it easier to imagine the corner cabinet or island your designer is suggesting.
But for a real sense of what your tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent on, nothing beats a scale model. That's the path Christopher King and Barry Jacobs took when they hired architect/contractor John Sofio to build them a home.
With limited funds, they set out to find a hillside lot on the Eastside of Los Angeles. The lot they found was a challenge to build upon, with 88 steps required to go from the street to what would become the location of the front door. The slope plus power lines precluded the use of large cranes to carry in such building materials as the 42-foot-long laminated beams the house rests upon.
To help picture the eventual house, and to play with the design, it was good that the team spent the money on a scale model, which you can see here at top, before the house was built, as shown in the bottom photo.
Also, you can take a scale model outside to see how the sun's arc across the sky will interact with the windows and overhangs, and where the shadows will fall. Scale models cost from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the complexity, and your architect or designer can surely recommend some companies who offer this service.
Click below to see more pictures of this striking 1,300-square-foot post-and-beam house and its redwood deck.