Designing and Building My Family’s New Custom Home

By Mark E. Sultana, AIA, NCARB

Most architects – no matter how skilled on the drawing board – have never picked up a hammer. Their model might well have been Frank Lloyd Wright, whose work-famous residential designs were notorious for their practical defects, like flat roofs that constantly leaked.

I enjoy both the design and construction aspects, because that gives me a hands-on perspective on building residential and commercial projects. I know what materials cost, how change orders can delay the work, and how to finish a well- designed project, on time and on budget.

Right now, I’m building my fourth house, and looking forward to its completion in November. Located in the City of Sarasota, our family-oriented 2,200 square-foot modern custom home incorporates numerous “smart design” features. For example, we’re using attractive but inexpensive finishes, and high-quality cabinetry and appliances that cost less than the European imported brands. It also has hurricane-resistant impact glass, spray foam insulation and other energy-saving and “green” features. I expect the final cost to be less than $100 a square foot, giving us the best of both worlds: a beautiful modern home at a very affordable price.

That approach resonates with many of today’s residential clients who want a one-of-a-kind home or condominium for approximately the same price as a “me-too” production home. From sleek modern to comfortable traditional to elegant Mediterranean, every home I design is meticulously detailed to stand out from the rest, at the right price for today’s market.

Mark Sultana, AIA, NCARB, is an award-winning architect and partner at DSDG, Inc. Architects, Sarasota. The firm’s services include architecture, planning, interior design and construction management. For more information: