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Designing Your Dream Home: An Interview with Jason Hart, AIA of CUBE design + research

By Jason Hart, AIA

Tell us a little bit about your company and the most popular services you offer.

CUBE design + research is an award-winning architecture firm focused on modern residential, small commercial, and building reuse projects. With each project we work to meet client needs and craft an inspiring human experience for the daily routines and rituals that take place inside and outside. We're a full-service architecture firm. We help clients assess budgets and property before design begins, and lead them through construction after design ends.

How would you suggest that people approach designing their dream home?

We recommend keeping an open mind and seeking out expert guidance early to help craft a design vision and lead you through the complex process. There is sometimes a lot to learn upfront, but the end result is well worth it. We will soon be releasing a free modern home planning guide to help people understand the process before they begin.

What are some of the most popular features that people in North Carolina want in a new home?

We have beautiful weather in North Carolina and many people here desire to have strong connections from the inside to the outside. Imagine a kitchen along side a porch with a pass-through window and bar seating outside, a shower open to the sky, or a garden view from the living room. North Carolinians want to be connected to nature while enjoying the comforts of home. We are also environmentally conscious. Two of the least expensive things you can do for the greatest payback are increase wall and roof insulation to offset your energy usage, and harvest rainwater to reduce your city or well-water consumption.

When should the budget be set and how is that typically done?

A budget for your home should be set before design begins. Your full budget should take into account costs for property, bank financing, realtors, architecture and engineering fees, local impact fees, typical construction cost for your type of project, furniture, and a contingency for unknowns. We recommend consulting your design professional for a range of typical construction costs based on your type of project. Don't break the bank, be reasonable and leave yourself some leeway for unknowns and a rainy day. We also recommend checking the design against the budget midway through the design phase with a contractor to help revise accordingly and keep costs on track.

What options do people have if they're working with an existing home/layout?

There is a lot you can do with an existing home, from small interior tweaks to a big exterior facelift. If you own your home, love your neighborhood, and plan to stay long-term, a renovation might be a good option. You can increase your energy and water efficiency, plan for aging-in-place, better use existing space, add new space, and enliven your daily routines and experience.

What are the most common mistakes that homeowners make during the building process and how can they be avoided?

The three most common mistakes are not planning enough, trying to rush the drawing phase, and not setting a realistic budget. All of these lead to quality issues and unnecessary cost overruns during construction. A good game plan and time allowed for a thorough set of drawings is vital. It's cheaper to make changes on paper than it is during construction. Communication and teamwork trumps everything.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

Contact our Chapel Hill office at 919-371-0721, email us at office-nc (at) or check us out on the web at". We offer a number of helpful planning resources and free initial consultations.

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