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A very long time ago in the 1st century B.C. a Roman architect named Vitruvius, wrote that there were three elements necessary for a well-designed building: firmitas, utilitas, and venustas. What do those Latin terms mean and why should we pay attention to some ancient dude? Well, it turns out Vitruvius was right about firmitas (strength), utilitas (functionality) and venustas (beauty) being essential to good building design, and all three must work together. When you are looking at a house or studying a stock plan, consider these points:

Functionality (utilitas)

Since the pandemic, a healthy house has become an important functional factor in addition to the usual criteria of space planning and interior features.
• Are materials and finishes as free as possible of formaldehyde and other toxins or irritants?
• With houses built so tightly these days, will the house have a whole house ventilation system?
• Natural light is an important health factor – will the windows capture plenty of daylight?
• Are rooms the right size, is circulation efficient, is there enough storage, is no space wasted?
• How user-friendly are the kitchen, the bathrooms, and the laundry space?
• Does the house suit the activities, lifestyles and needs of the people likely to live there?

Strength (firmitas)

The durability of a house is not visible from the outside or from looking at a floor plan. But if you dig a little deeper you can find answers to these questions:
• Will the house be built with construction methods and materials that make it strong enough to withstand the ravages of time and weather?
• Does the design take advantage of the latest knowledge in the field of building science?
• Does the design make the most efficient use of building materials, construction labor, and energy resources?
• Do the design and construction methods support conservation and sustainability?

Beauty (venustas)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there are inherent qualities that make a house more attractive, no matter its style.
• Are the various parts that make up the sum of the exterior of the house balanced and in proportion? You will notice if not, even if you may not know why.
• Are rooflines, windows and other features consistent, not a mish-mash of elements?
• Is the style of the house interpreted correctly? Will it look just as attractive decades from now?
• Does the front entrance welcome you?
• If this is a built house, does it fit well on its site? Does it take advantage of views, the sun, and the land features?