The Challenges of Structural Design of a Luxury House
Updated: Jul 26
Almost everyone loves to live in a luxury house! However, a big part of a luxury house is its unique design that makes it different from other homes, including other luxury homes! So, a key part of designing a luxury home is designing a unique house that is liked by its owner and is not a copy of any other home, which is just the beginning of the challenges a luxury home designer will often face.
The first part of designing a luxury house is to understand the concepts that the homeowner likes, and to use them as a basis to design the home. Some people like more natural lighting, some like more open spaces, some like very modern or classic styles, some like an easy access to the backyard and some love to have a glass roof! The interesting thing is that with today's technology, almost any feature is possible for a home; it is just about making sure that things can be put together with any set budget or timeline of a project project.
One thing that many people don't know, which is a key to designing a safe luxury house, is the challenges that we - structural engineers - often face is designing the structural framing of a custom design home. Well, imagine if someone likes to have a pretty open space with no columns, and then a class roof on the top. Well, if you have not already realized, this would be nearly impossible to design such building because any roof, including glass roofs, needs a structural frame to carry its loads. The structural frame can be load bearing walls or columns. However, a completely open space with no columns and walls is technically as if we are expecting the air in the house to carry the roof loads! So a real house does need columns and walls and in practice, has to have some limitation on the openness it can have. That is a challenge we structural engineers face all the time and we manage to resolve it by finding a creative solution that both meets the client expectations as possible and allows us ensure the structural safety.
Another point to add here is that structural safety is not only about gravity loads. For example, if you live in Houston, TX, you know well about how strong the hurricane winds can be when they hit the city. Those strong winds may not occur frequently or may not hit every single home in Houston, but structural engineers are required by law to consider those possible loads in the design of the structure. This means, if they don't carefully consider all those loads and design your structure to carry gravity and lateral loads and transfer them to the foundation, then it is well possible that a nice and stable house under normal weather conditions becomes severely damaged under an extreme environmental condition. The calculation to verify that the structure can survive both normal and extreme conditions is something only an experienced and educated structural engineer can do, not an architect nor a general contractor or builder. That is why the state has required all public buildings, with some limited exemptions, be certified by a licensed structural engineer. After all, no one likes to see their roof or walls teared apart during the next hurricane!
And that is what we do at Her Luxury House. We are the protectors of you and your family by making sure we design your home safely and inform you about any issues with your structure when you hire us for an inspection. Yes, our slogan is "luxury homes for everyone" but we certainly prioritize your safety over the luxury look of your structure by all means, and only approve a design or recommendation when we have confidence you will be safe.