Helen Thompson 2017-12-04 05:10:06
Simply Savvy Sketch by Kristina Leigh Wiggins Building a house? A new book and companion app from Kristina Leigh Wiggins tells you how to get the job done right. IT IS POSSIBLE that the urge to build a home is deeply embedded in our DNA, or so it seems given the gazillion articles, television shows, YouTube videos and magazines dedicated to the subject. And yet, despite all the insightful commentary and sassy DIY advice, there is one area that goes relatively unplumbed outside the construction trade manuals: the unsexy basic how-to of building a house. That could be because the nuts and bolts of house building aren’t all that much fun, and — gasp — some of the details are boring. Obviously, most of us search out contractors and builders to do the heavy lifting, but what if you want to gain more insight into the process or even (admit it) exert more control? For such people, Kristina Leigh Wiggins rides to the rescue. The architect and former project manager (she started her own architectural design company at age 24) has written a book about how to build your dream home. She has a lot of answers, but, even better, Wiggins has the questions for everyone involved in the project that you might never think to ask. The energetic 38-year-old, a graduate of Texas A&M’s College of Architecture, worked as an architect and project manager for a decade in Houston and in Midland, where she now lives. During a career break after her two daughters were born, Wiggins developed LIL&TESS a line of mosquito-repellent children’s clothing, snagging an hour-and-a-half mentoring session with Shark Tank’s Daymond John in the process. “His book The Power of Broke was a big influence on how I start a project,” the entrepreneur says. “Beginning a business with limited funding can actually be a huge competitive asset.” That awareness empowers her savvy views on home building: “If you know exactly what you want,” she says, “you will be able to stay on budget.” “I try to help my readers know that construction is a long process, and things go wrong. Don’t panic. That is part of the deal, not a sign that the entire process is compromised.” — Kristina Leigh Wiggins The reason Wiggins was attracted to architecture is a variant on the usual default that architects like to design buildings. Being at the drawing board is the romantic version of architecture. Confirming a predilection for the unglamorous, the former building code enforcement specialist says, “My happy place is on the job site.” That’s where she best employs her particular skill: “I am a problem solver.” That superpower is a boon to the followers who learn how to actively confront a truth that catches many aspiring homeowners off guard: Building a home is a series of problems. “I try to help my readers know that construction is a long process, and things go wrong,” she says. “Don’t panic,” the author advises. “That is part of the deal, not a sign that the entire process is compromised.” Wiggins is at her problem-solving best in Building Your Home: A Simple Guide to Making Good Decisions, a step-by-step exercise in getting things right the first time. The 10 chapter titles are as straightforward as her approach: “Selecting the Lot,” “Determine Your Style” and “Starting the Plans.” The final chapter is “The Construction Begins.” By that time — if readers have done the homework — there is a solid foundation for proceeding. Her sketches, including door styles and window types, are icing on the cake, but make no mistake, the book is a deliberate exercise in discernment via lots of fill-in-the-blank exercises. Three trips to a building site, for instance, allow you to record your impressions on different days, at varying times and in changing weather. “Simpleigh Done,” the app she created as a companion to the book, is intended to act as a realtime spec sheet and archive where you can store images and notes about materials and ideas, print them out and share with professionals on your team who have the app. The photogenic Wiggins is already being crowned the next Martha Stewart or Joanna Gaines, although she notes that she is very different from the design and decor divas. She acknowledges that they’ve made good design accessible, but similarities stop there. Martha Stewart reveres perfection. Joanna Gaines’ following was built on the promise of a big reveal, with clients kept in the dark until she and husband Chip unveil their renovated house. Wiggins, on the other hand, is ever realistic and always practical. “I want to tell people how to do things for themselves,” she says. Hers is a philosophy of personal involvement. “Don’t hire someone to give you the house they want you to have,” she says. “This is your house, and it should reflect who you are.” Helen Thompson writes about architecture and interior design on her blog SeenInHouse.com. THE DETAILS Building Your Home: A Simple Guide to Making Good Decisions (Brown Books Publishing Group, $24.95) is available at amazon.com. Download “Simpleigh Done” from the App Store, $4.99. Find more info at simplykristinaleigh.com.
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