The relationship between designer and engineer is an important one. As a designer we need to have an understanding of how homes are built, and this plays a big role in the design process. Clients want to remove walls, vault ceilings, change windows, add on square footage, and even add a second story to their home.
Structural design is something that as a designer can be just as much fun as the finishes, and it adds an enjoyable challenge to the design process. When a wall is going to be removed first thing we need to explore is, “Is it load-bearing?”. Even if it is typically it can still be removed, and a structural engineer plays a big role in determining what can be done. Do we need a header, and can it be flush in the attic? Is it beneficial to leave it dropped and can we make it a decorative feature? How much concrete work will need to be done under the home to make it happen? There is a plethora of questions to be discussed to get to the final design.
Sometimes structural elements that are required can be used in decorative ways, like an exposed beam or post, or hardware that can be visible and used as a decorative element like on a porch or roof gable.