One of the things you have to really consider when you're building your home is the climate in that area, or at least, how much rain or sun it gets each year. It is very common to see steel buildings in really cold places like Baguio and Sagada (especially those which are literally situated on mountains) because the steel sheets keep the cold out.
Wooden everything in a beach house is really great, because you get to take advantage of the ocean breeze. However, if you can't afford the upkeep (for such homes are prone to termite infestation), settle on concrete instead.
And if your area gets much sun, it might do well to take advantage of that for more natural lighting in the home. That will save big bucks in the long run. Just make sure you also make sure that you get the light without the heat, otherwise your furnitures might cook when they're hit directly everyday. Sometimes, it's just a matter of drawing curtains everyday, but in this heat, who'd do that? The best thing probably is to have extended roofing that will provide shade but still allow illumination in. Also consider where the sun rises/sets and where its rays hit so you can adjust window placements accordingly. Same considerations apply for where breezes come and go.
One should also avoid a lot of wood in wet areas, as wood usually end up decaying. Again, this would eat up a lot of maintenance costs.
If you're new to the area, maybe staying there for an entire day will do you and your architect good. And then consult the locals to get valuable feedback before finalizing on a home design.