When is the best time to engage an Architect?
The best time to bring an architect on board for your project would be as soon as you are ready to start investing - when you are ready to take your first step. We can help you figure out the types and sizes of spaces, the ideal configuration of those spaces and walk you through each design and construction step, even long after you've moved in.
How do Architectural
We typically work on what we call a 'fixed-fee' basis. Once we understand the full scope of your project, we put together a phased contract that outlines all the work we see as required to design, acquire permit approval and help you through construction. We assign either an hourly rate (commercial projects) or a percentage of construction cost (residential projects) to each phase, which totals to our 'fixed-fee' to complete your project. We then invoice a portion of that fee in advance, and the remainder either on a monthly basis or prior to submittal to the local agency.
On which project types do I need an Architect?
All commercial (offices, restaurants, etc.), multi-family residential, industrial and institutional projects require a licensed architect. Single-family residential projects do not require an architect, however, we highly recommended you work with an architect on homes that are 'unconventional', or where you are looking for accountability, follow-through, and a truly unique and functional home.
What kind of time frames can I expect on a project?
This is an impossible question. Construction of any kind is a big investment, and rushing it generally leads to disappointment on all sides. There is a natural progression from one phase of a project to the next. We strongly discourage projects that have an unreasonable schedule, and are always open to discussing the reasonable expectations when it comes to our design and production timelines, as well as those of our consultant engineers based on experience. That being said, every project is defined by it's unique parameters and constraints, and we are always up to a challenge, but remember that old saying - 'You can have it Fast, Cheap or Good, choose two' - it is true now more than ever.
What other costs can I expect beyond the Architectural Fee?
Architecture is only one of what are called 'Soft Costs' in a construction project. Soft Costs can include design fees (architect and engineers - structural, mechanical, electrical, civil, geotechnical, energy, etc.), permitting fees and impact fees. These costs, plus your construction (material and labor) together equal your 'Project Cost'. When putting together your overall project budget, ensure that both your soft costs and construction costs are accounted for. Also, be aware of any contract exclusions, as those would be considered 'Additional Services' if/when they become applicable to your project.
How do I go about getting an estimate for your services?
We usually begin with a phone or email conversation to wrap our heads around your project type and scope of work. Next we will meet you on site for a walk-through and further discussion of how the project should move forward. After that we will put together a contract outlining the services and phases we are proposing to complete your project. The contract will also outline the time we estimate each portion of the work will take. If this meets with your approval, we will issue the initial invoice and the project will move forward.
What is the relationship between an Architect and a Contractor?
This depends on the type of project. In traditional design-bid-build and negotiated projects, there is no contractual relationship between the contractor and the architect - each has their own contract with the project owner. However, in a design-build project, the two may be either the same entity, or have some form of contractual relationship as a team with the project owner. If there is no contract between the architect and contractor (most common), then each party generally communicates all decisions and negotiations through the project owner.
What are the common financial expectations?
We invoice for our services in increments. Most projects have an initial deposit of 50% due prior to starting the work, followed by the remaining 50% due prior to submitting for plan review. On larger projects with multiple phases, we may invoice for phases on a monthly basis after the initial deposit. In addition to our fixed fee, if we are providing any printing or other reimbursable expenses, or have approval for additional services, we will bill those once complete or on a monthly basis with the next phase-based invoice.
What all does 'getting a permit' entail?
This is a question we wish more people asked, and earlier in the process. 'Getting a permit', simply put, is a big deal. It isn't a matter of 'I just need a plan', as many potential clients say when they first come to us. Getting a permit is the one of the last things we do for our clients, and only comes after a design process where we iteratively come to a conceptual form and arrangement of spaces that best suite our client's needs, and a production process where we develop that concept into a reality of details, plans, elevations, sections and well coordinated engineering drawings and calculations - all required by our local agencies for a permit. Then, and only after all that work, do we submit our document package for a building permit. Then comes plan review, which is a conversation with the building department where they can ask for clarification on portions of the project and we respond. Once all concerns have been clarified, then a project permit is approved and we move into construction.
What is the typical design process I should expect?
While every project is unique, most will follow the following phases to some extent:
1. Pre-Design - Researching all the applicable regulations as well as site and project-type constraints, existing conditions, and accessibility, and developing a Program (type and # of spaces)
2. Schematic Design - Conceptual solution to the project - Presentation of the proposed form and massing, materiality, and plan arrangement.
3. Design Development - Vetting the conceptual solution with real world systems, materials, and initial engineering
4. Construction Documents - Production of comprehensive architectural drawings as well as coordination of engineering drawings and calculations.
5. Plan Review - Submittal and Response to local agencies for project permitting
6. Bidding / Negotiation - Assisting our client acquire general contracting services. This phase can occur much earlier in the process for negotiated projects.
7. Construction Administration or Observation - Tasks may vary, but generally assisting or being available for questions throughout the construction process.