I recently spent three weeks on the island of Kaua‘i. I shot a lot of photographs of small homes that seemed simple, well-designed, and suitable for the climate. In general I thought that construction on Kaua‘i was of pretty good quality: good carpentry. I’m going to put up photographs as I get the time. Some of these are more upscale than others, but overall, the shapes seem functional.
When people ask me what I think they should build, I generally suggest that they look around at what’s been built in the neighborhood (or surroundings). I think this is generally a better place to start than with an architect.