Arcbazar recently spoke with Touyer Lee, who is based out of Sacremento, CA. In addition to describing his career trajectory, Touyer lends his advice to homeowners and sheds light on a few common mistakes made by those remodeling their homes. You can see Touyer’s Arcbazar.com portfolio here.
Where are you from and how long have you been workign in the field?
I live and work in Sacramento California and have been here since 1989. I first got interested in Architecture after I saw a set of house plans in a drafting class at Precision Technical Institute. After receiving my AutoCAD certificate from Precision in 2006 I was hired on by B-Line Construction a small Remodeling firm to work as their primary draftsman. My main duties their were to take field measurements of existing homes, draw plans, and expedite permits. I was mentored there by my general manager, a civil engineer from the Philippines.
From there I went back to school part time and I studied Architecture for 2 years from Consumes River College and 2 years of Design and Interior Architecture from UC Davis where I received my B.A. in Design in 2009.
What keeps you excited about your field?
What keeps me excited in the design field is creative process. I enjoy doodling on tracing paper to come up with solutions that my clients never thought of. I enjoy drawing before going to CAD to keep my mind working and to keep my drawing hand sharp. I continue to study Architecture though books and magazines as well as the internet. I love going through other websites and looking at other designers work. I have discovered that through the work of others I find many of the solutions that I’m looking for and in that way design is a very collaborative field.
Would you say that you have a specialty?
My specialty is remodeling. We do a lot of additions, kitchens, and bathrooms at B-Line. Mostly residential though we have done some light commercial work such as tenant improvements. I would love to see us do more commercial work as that is something would like to gain more experience in.
Do you have a favorite type of project?
I enjoy working on Veteran’s projects. I myself am a Veteran (Marine Corps) and these gentlemen have a special place in my heart. Many of them return home without the use of all their limbs and they find it very difficult to maneuver in their current homes. When I am asked to come in, I am usually asked to make their bathrooms more accessible. Typically that means designing a shower that has a 5 x 5 diameter, a water closet with a 3 foot transferable space, and a vanity with accessible space below the vanity. The requirements for this type of remodel are very stringent, but the constraints give me a challenge that I really enjoy.
Is there any specific advice that you would give to homeowners relating to your expertise or past experiences?
Budget! Budget! Budget! Although I really enjoy Arcbazar as a place to find creative design solutions I find many clients choose a design that is unbuildable. Working for a general contractor has taught me that I have a responsibility to come up with a design that will work for my client at the same time come within budget. I would recommend to all clients on Arcbazar that they have a local builder review their plans to make sure it can actually be built before making a decision.
Are there any tips or tricks that you would lend to our readers?
Budget! Budget! Budget! Remodeling can be a nightmare, especially if you plan to live in the house while the work is being done. Choose a builder who is experience and can get the job done on time. This may mean going with the more expensive contractor- but it will give you piece of mind. If you have trouble finding a good builder or designer, go to the National Association of the Remodelers Institute (NARI) website http://www.nari.org/ to find a builder in your area. NARI is a good organization and they have a good reputation for having good builders.
Why do you enjoy using Arcbazar?
I enjoy using Arcbazar because I have more leeway on design. Working for a contractor means I have budget constraints and the contractor likes to control a lot of the design. It is a give and take relationship.
I also enjoy Arcbazar because I enjoy seeing others’ work. I think there are so many creative people here and they teach me a lot. In many ways Arcbazar has been an informal education for me and I think many other designers would agree with me.
How can readers find more of your work?
Visit my company website to see some of my projects I have done for the company.