If Architects Had to Work Like Web Designers

Please design and build me a house. I am not quite sure of what I need, so you should use your discretion. My house should have somewhere between two and forty-five bedrooms. Just make sure the plans are such that the bedrooms can be easily added or deleted. When you bring the blueprints to me, I will make the final decision of what I want. Also, bring me the cost breakdown for each configuration so that I can arbitrarily pick one.

Keep in mind that the house I ultimately choose must cost less than the one I am currently living in. Make sure, however, that you correct all the deficiencies that exist in my current house (the floor of my kitchen vibrates when I walk across it, and the walls don’t have nearly enough insulation in them).

As you design, also keep in mind that I want to keep yearly maintenance costs as low as possible. This should mean the incorporation of extra-cost features like aluminum, vinyl, or composite siding. (If you choose not to specify aluminum, be prepared to explain your decision in detail.)

Please take care that modern design practices and the latest materials are used in construction of the house, as I want it to be a showplace for the most up-to-date ideas and methods. Be alerted, however, that kitchen should be designed to accommodate, among other things, my 1952 Gibson refrigerator.

To insure that you are building the correct house for our entire family, make certain that you contact each of our children, and also our in-laws. My mother-in-law will have very strong feelings about how the house should be designed, since she visits us at least once a year.

Make sure that you weigh all of these options carefully and come to the right decision. I, however, retain the right to overrule any choices that you make.

Please don’t bother me with small details right now. Your job is to develop the overall plans for the house: Get the big picture. At this time, for example, it is not appropriate to be choosing the color of the carpet. However, keep in mind that my wife likes blue.

Also, do not worry at this time about acquiring the resources to build the house itself. Your first priority is to develop detailed plans and specifications. Once I approve these plans, however, I would expect the house to be under roof within 48 hours.

While you are designing this house specifically for me, keep in mind that sooner or later I will have to sell it to someone else. It therefore should have appeal to a wide variety of potential buyers.

Please make sure before you finalize the plans that there is a consensus of the population in my area that they like the features this house has. I advise you to run up and look at my neighbor’s house that he constructed last year. We like it a great deal. It has many features that we would also like in our new home, particularly the 75-foot swimming pool. With careful engineering, I believe that you can design this into our new house without impacting the final cost.

Please prepare a complete set of blueprints. It is not necessary at this time to do the real design, since they will be used only for construction bids. Be advised, however, that you will be held accountable for any increase of construction costs as a result of later design changes.

You must be thrilled to be working on as an interesting project as this! To be able to use the latest techniques and materials and to be given such freedom in your designs is something that can’t happen very often.

Contact me as soon as possible with your complete ideas and plans.

PS: My wife has just told me that she disagrees with many of the instructions I’ve given you in this letter. As architect, it is your responsibility to resolve these differences. I have tried in the past and have been unable to accomplish this. If you can’t handle this responsibility, I will have to find another architect.

PPS: Perhaps what I need is not a house at all, but a travel trailer. Please advise me as soon as possible if this is the case.


Suggested additions

“Make sure your estimate for this plan is no more than $2000. I have a 15 year old nephew who designs houses and he say he can build it for me for $1000.”



Please also create this house so that my disfunctional part-time neice (sister to the nephew) can maintain the “content” of the Kitchen, Den and Play Room. But, create a admin shed containing a swiss army tool that will magically clean, press and freshen the rest of the house when you flick its switch. If we do not have time this year for the tool, we’ll re-approach the design in phase two with next years budget.

After the house has been completed, I will more than likely want you to tear part of it down and rebuild it a couple of inches to the left… for no additional cost.



Have I mentioned that I’m not approved for loans or building permits. Go ahead anyway and we will deal with them when the time comes. Did I mention that you will turn over all plans to me and I’ll take the credit of the project when its a sucess?

Oh, by the way … if I’m carrying groceries, I want the front door to lead to the kitchen, but if I’m coming home from work, I want the front door to lead to the living room. If I’m coming home from work AND carrying groceries, ask me before I come in the front door which one I prefer.



My mother-in law should not be able to go into the bedrooms unless my wife specifically gives her permission. Then, she is permitted to see what is in the bedrooms but not change anything. My wife is permitted to see or change anything in the bedrooms, but not in my workshop or the garage. Unless I say she can.

The floors must be level to within a tolerance of +/- 0.00001%. Of course, I don’t know where the floors will be yet.

Very often, I will want to replace everything in my garage with exactly the same stuff from my neighbor’s garage. Unfortunately, my neighbor and I are not always on speaking terms. You will have to figure out how to make sure that our garages always contain the same stuff, even when we’re not speaking to each other.

I will be giving my keys to about a hundred people. Some of them will be helping me on this dinner party I give every so often. I want to collaborate with them. The other people are free to do what they like in the other rooms, but I don’t want to see or hear them.

Did I mention that your boss promised me you’d be finished by Wednesday?



Did I mention that I need to have the plans ready for review by next week and the implementation of my new home will have to be completed within one months time…never mind, make that two weeks, my clients have to be able to come inside and see how it is doing now…

PS-I also reserve the right to not get back to you when you have any questions and then blame you for not designing my home fast enough…and may then have to report you to the BBB, and did I mention that I have several more things to add within that two weeks…so I hope that the scope is not too large because I want it by the deadline…even if the overtime kills you in the process.


Oh, and I forgot to add that there’s no deadline pressure at all — take your time to make it right, because I understand this sort of project takes time — except that the dining room and kitchen-management-system needs to be fully functional in a week for the big birthday party. Since that’s the smallest part of the house, it should be easy enough to get done in time. Then you can do the rest of the stuff afterwards. Don’t bother me with any approvals or questions that don’t have to do with the dining room or kitchen until after the birthday. You got to keep your eye on the ball.


Thank you for the proposal! My first inclination was to say no, but my nephew has a CounterStrike LAN party this weekend and cannot complete my project,. Luck you, It’s a go. I expect stringent adherence to the the 48 hour completion clause starting… NOW! Since I’ll be supplying the images and content, I’ll be back with that tomorrow… or the next day.


I will require free training as well. As I am very familiar with homes I am sure I will understand everything immediately, but I need you to show me how to walk through the back door. If I don’t get it, I will assume that it is your fault and poor design regardless of what I approved.

Also, since I am the only person who has ever used the Internet, I will inform you when you ideas on hyperlinks and buttons make no sense to anybody on the entire planet besides you.


I realize that although your estimate for this project is budgeted for a week’s worth of your time, I will respond to your initial design sometime next week, or month… or year… (yep seriously..) Please keep your schedule exclusively open so my whole family can review your specs at their leisure and reject your initial design. Once your design has been rejected we will expect 10 more designs to arbitrarily pick from. I expect that the costs for these 10 more designs shall not exceed the initial estimate. Since the initial specs were designed in blue, and it is now a year later, we expect the revised spec to be designed in this year’s colors, which are now pink and black… Also please include at the top some type of logo for our family at no charge….


“I’m going to have the building design and organization go against your better judgement and completely ignore you if you tell me my ideas are a more costly way to go. Later, I reserve the right to blame you for any problems or extra costs that will inevitably arise.”


Hey Buddy!
I have made several attempts to contact you regarding another interesting project for a good charitable cause, however I have yet to hear back from you. I had heard that you lost your home and declaired bancrupcy, so I thought you could use the work. Pleas give me a call.

Linux Xen Notes

Quick and dirty ref sheet for myself 🙂

vgdisplay – this command shows you all the disk space used/free
lvdisplay – this will show you all the partitions that you have running and how big they are etc

lvextend -L +10G /dev/vg00/files – this will increase /dev/vg0/files 10GB
xfs_growfs /dev/vg0/files – this will resize the xfs partition to take into account eh extra 10GB

lvcreate /dev/vg0 -n mail1 -L 10G # create a partition 10GB called mail1
lvcreate /dev/vg0 -n mail1-swap -L 1G # create a partition 1GB called mail1-swap
mkswap /dev/vg0/mail1-swap
xen-create-image --dist=sarge --debootstrap --hostname=mail1 --force --passwd --size=10G --swap=1G --lvm=vg00   --mirror=http://ftp.nz.debian.org/debian/ --mem=200 --gateway=192.168.10.2 --netmask=255.255.255.0 --ip=192.168.10.81
cd /etc/xen/ # make a config/copy one from elsewhere and edit it
sudo ln -s /etc/xen/mail1.cfg /etc/xen/auto/
xm create -c mail1.cfg
xm console mail1

Terminology: In xen, everything runs as a virtual machine, even the ‘host operating system’ ( called dom0 ) is just the virtual machine from which you control all the others. The ‘virtual machines’ themselves are called ‘domU’ virtual machines & the only difference is their absence of this admin capability.

To do anything with Xen, ssh to the dom0 on which your xen domU runs and run the ‘xm’ xommand

xm #Lists xm subcommands
xm list # lists xen domUs
xm top # Show xen CPU usage
xm reboot xxxxx #Reboot xen nodes
xm shutdown xxxx # shutdown xen node
xm destry xxxx # equivalent of pulling power cable
xm create xxxx.cfg #Boot a xen node (note the cfg)
xm console xxx # Attach to the console of a xen node, press CTRL-] to exit

To create a xen machine try a shell script similar to this

hostname=test
dist=sarge # Or etch for a new system
ipaddress=192.168.10.161
mem=2000
xen-create-image --dist=$dist --debootstrap --hostname=$hostname --force --passwd --size=5G --swap=1G --lvm=vg00   --mirror=http://debian.orcon.net.nz/debian --mem=$mem --gateway=192.168.10.2 --netmask=255.255.255.0 --fs=xfs --ip=$ipaddress