Needs vs Wants
There has been much talk here, especially lately, about making pre-architect or pre-design lists, dividing the list into "priority needs" and "desirable wants." I've read the design and architecture books; I've searched and read dozens of related forum threads going back 3-4 years, yet I haven't found a good answer to this.
How exactly do you determine what is a "need" vs what is a "want"? Sure, no one needs a gold-plated toilet or flying squirrels carved into their roof or the like. Those are clearly wants. Do you actually "need" storage? Do you "need" central vac or do you just need a closet to store a vacuum cleaner? Maybe you only really "need" a nail on the wall to hang a broom, and all the rest is superfluous.
One could argue the points endlessly, and I've seen it done here many times where one poster adamantly claims another poster doesn't "need" such extravagance, so much space, so many toilets, or they say someone absolutely "needs" more than one bathroom, etc. In fact, when you come right down to it, all anyone really needs is basic shelter that provides one with the ability to maintain good hygiene and stay safe from the elements. Just because you have 10 kids doesn't mean you "need" 10 or 12 or even 5 bedrooms. My grandmother raised 10 kids in a 2 bedroom house. Really. Some people even live in tents. Or igloos. And use an outhouse. But that's not the point here, although I sometimes feel certain people on this forum take the question to this extreme.
For us, on this forum, people with the means to build a new, often custom, house, how should we be dividing this building list? I suppose "needs" could be classified as minimum code requirements, site limitations and orientation, local setback distances and height requirements, deed restrictions, etc. While that is a useful list to make and entirely necessary before designing any house, is this all that a "needs" list encompasses? Or does it include the more intangible things that apply to your personal goal of building a house?
And if so, where, how, do you draw the line between needs and wants, when making a list that will be useful to your design team? It's a grey area, and I'm certain it will differ between individuals. Is it dependent upon location? Family size? Budget? What?
Per the books and advice, I too made similar lists before starting, including a list of "what I don't like about my current house," and gave them to my architect, and while I got some very nice plans, it ultimately didn't get me the dream home I was seeking. Clearly I did something wrong. Starting over, I don't want to make the same mistake.
So, a penny for your thoughts...