AxD Always by Design How We are Different

HOW we're different

It’s likely that you’re busy and perhaps also feeling somewhat daunted about what architect to choose to work with. To help you determine if AxD might offer the right fit for you, here are five key characteristics of the Always by Design practice:


The sole focus of Always by Design is designing contemporary single-family homes — directly for owners. Every project is custom-designed to the specifics of each homeowner’s goals and resources, seeking to achieve the best value using contemporary materials and practices.

Within the overall category of “single-family homes”, we do:

  • New Primary Residences — in rural, suburban and urban communities
  • Vacation Houses – in coastal, lakefront, mountainside and forest environments
  • Building Conversions to homes, from earlier uses for worship or business
  • Additions – either vertically or horizontally to create more livable space
  • Renovations – to re-vitalize homes for new owners or new stages of their lives


You (and the contractor) will have a single point-of-contact for your entire project – Ed Barnhart, AIA, principal of Always by Design. Ed found it to be of greater value to his clients to apply his thirty-plus years of experience to working directly for owners — rather than indirectly, mentoring a staff of lesser experience. Now, as a sole practitioner, he is able to provide exceptional single-source continuity for every project– from conception to completion. For owners, working with Ed means holistic involvement in their project from a “high altitude” level down to the smallest of details.


Ed began his career in Upstate NY, working for a custom home builder and forming his own construction business prior to becoming a registered architect. Ed practiced for over twenty years in internationally recognized architectural firms, with projects on three continents, before founding Always by Design in 2005. Since then, in addition to extensive travel, he has renovated and designed houses for his own family. It has been the culmination of these experiences that enables Ed to be incomparably knowledgeable and empathetic to the needs of owners, contractors, engineers and approval agency officials.


The core passion behind AxD is in crafting contemporary homes from the particulars of place, people and purpose. The search is to understand the unique circumstances and essential nature underlying each project, and apply them as the basis for creating inspired work that is authentic to our time. Ed works to make every relationship a success and the basis of a long-term relationship. The results are evidenced by the high proportion of repeat clients and contractor referrals AxD receives on an on-going basis.


All AxD projects start with a free initial consultation. Having the opportunity to meet an owner face-to-face and visit a property firsthand is well worth a few hours of time invested up front. After getting a sense of who I’ll be working with, the goals they are trying to achieve, and the relevant constraints and resources, I typically develop a fixed fee proposal, outlining step-by-step the tasks I see as necessary to get to the desired outcome. I don’t charge hourly or to a percentage of construction cost. I’d much rather focus on the project itself rather than risk a client’s confidence that I’m padding hourly invoices or adding project complexity (construction costs) to increase my profits. I want owners to have the confidence from the outset of understanding what they are getting.