Do I need an architect for my project?
While some folks embrace a DIY spirit, the best results are obtained from the best professionals, particularly with construction projects of any complexity. The American Institute of Architects
(AIA, the professional accreditation agency for architects) explains, “An architect member of AIA can save time and money by making your new spaces more functional, comfortable, efficient and environmentally responsible. An architect has the education, training, experience and vision to guide you through the entire design/construction process and will help you define what you want to build and how to get the most for your constructions dollar. One of the most important services an architect can provide is monitoring construction. They coordinate teams of design, engineering and construction professionals; they sort through the maze of building codes and zoning requirements; they ensure your project is built the way it was intended.”
What do I need to provide?
We’ll need to know your goals, spatial needs, aesthetics, timeline, a site (if preselected) and your program (how the building is going to be used).
What role do you have in construction?
We observe the construction process to ensure compliance with the Construction Documents. Additionally, we:
• Review Shop Drawings (technical drawings submitted by manufacturers prior to fabrication)
• Respond to Requests for Information (RFI’s): Many questions come up during construction. This is the process we use to respond to these questions.
• Review and Approve Change Orders: Not all change orders should be change orders. Sometimes contractors miss things that are on the drawings. We are the first round mediators for conflict resolution with the contractor by interpreting the drawings. We try to maintain good lines of communication throughout the process, as communication breakdowns can lead to legal action.
• Review and Approve Applications for Payment: At certain milestones, a contractor will estimate his progress and request payment be made for work to date. We evaluate the progress of construction and make sure the contractor isn’t overstating his true progress.
• Issue Field Reports: A field report is a written record of progress made at the time of a site visit.
Am I expected to work with the contractor directly?
If you hire us for Construction Administration, we serve as a go between for the you and contractor. We will act as coordinator and you will not need to deal directly with the contractor.
If you decide to forgo Construction Administration services, then you will communicate directly with the contractor. This can be challenging if you are not familiar with building/construction, as you then must rely on the contractor to interpret the drawings, putting you at a disadvantage.
How disruptive will construction be?
Physically, construction will always be disruptive during a renovation if you plan to still occupy the space. What is often forgotten is the emotional toll construction will take on you. Construction is full of emotional highs and lows for owners. We have enough distance to keep decisions from being emotional and can help you keep things in perspective.
How do you establish fees? What is included in your basic services and what incurs extra fees?
Fees are based on the size and complexity of a project. Basic services will be determined based on needs communicated in the initial meeting. We will outline these basic services in our Fee Proposal. A change of scope, or anything not included in your Fee Proposal, can cause additional fees.
What is your track record with completing a project within the original budget?
When we are part of the process of developing a budget, we are always at or below budget. The National average for Change Orders on new construction is 8% and 12% for a renovation. We average 3% or less on all our jobs.
How much do sustainable design technologies affect the construction budget?
Sustainable design has come a long way. Mostly, sustainability can be achieved with products that are readily available on the market and good design practices. If you are looking to excel at being “green,” the design may change and cause additional cost to the job.
Do you design in one particular style?
We are a tool to meet your needs, both spatially and aesthetically. We do not have a preconceived idea that one style is better than another.
What is the process?
Here is a brief overview. For more details see Our Process
• Schematic design: The brainstorming phase. We provide multiple iterations to find a design that works for the client, both aesthetically and functionally.
• Construction Drawings: The technical drawings required for permitting and getting accurate bids.
• Bidding: We help you select Bidders (Contractors) and evaluate the bids for accuracy and completeness.
• Construction Administration: Observation of construction to ensure compliance with Construction Documents.
What sets you apart from other architects?
We care—down to the last detail. We take the time to listen to what your needs truly are and provide the best solution. If something isn’t right, it’s a cause for sleepless nights and we will keep looking for solutions. Regardless of design phase, we’re always looking for ways to improve the design and make a better product for you. Our clients are a long term relationship for us.
What is your design philosophy?
A building needs to respond to the context of the environment it is in and develop its aesthetic, rhythms and patterns from its surrounding environment. Even an ultra-modern building in a historic downtown can fit, if it uses the same proportions, scales and materials of the contextual surroundings.