What do Architects do?

Believe it or not, this is a very common question!

The American Institute of Architects has a clear and easy explanation of what Architects do. Visit  http://howdesignworks.aia.org/faq.cfm  to read their description.

What is our process?

  1. At the first meeting, we will sit down and discuss the scope of the project and an anticipated budget. The client should put together a detailed "Wish List" of items hoped for and/or expected in the final product.
  2. Once the Agreement between the Architect and Owner has been signed and a retainer fee received by the Architect, the Architect will schedule a time to come out and take detailed measurements of your home. (This step many times has been done at the first meeting).
  3. With the detailed measurements the Architect will prepare "As-Built" drawings which reflect the current floor plans.
  4. The as-built drawings are then transformed into a preliminary design based on the client's wish list. At times, the Architect may also suggest other options to improve the value and comfort of your home.
  5. Once the preliminary design is laid out, we will set up another meeting to discuss the design and make any modifications. This process may take one or more meetings depending on the size and scope of the project.
  6. Once the Owner approves a final design, the Architect will prepare detailed construction drawings that will be used for bidding, obtaining building permits and general construction.
  7. At some point while the Architect is preparing the construction documents, another meeting will be set up with the Client to discuss detailed information, such as finishes and other detailed expectations that will need to be part of these drawings.
  8. Once these drawings are completed, usually seven sets will be given to the client. Three sets will be signed and have the Architect's raised seal; these will be turned into the building department for permits. Additional sets will be given to contractors for detailed bid costs for completing the project.
  9. The client will then hire a contractor and establish a construction schedule with the contractor.
  10. Once construction starts, the Architect will visit the site at select times to make sure work is being completed according to plans.

What is our billing policy?

There are four common ways Architects charge clients:

  1. A percentage of total construction cost. With this method, the more the client spends, the more the Architect gets paid.
  2. A lump sum. With a lump sum the Architect locks himself into a fixed fee that may not reflect the many unknowns within the course of the project. These unknowns will cause the architect to want to renegotiate the fee with the client.
  3. A fee per square foot. This arrangement is usually made with new construction.
  4. An hourly rate with an anticipated project cost.

We use an hourly rate and give the client a cost range for the anticipated total Architectural fee. This, I believe, is the fairest and most cost efficient way to satisfy the needs of both the Client and the Architect. This way, the client only pays the Architect for his/her actual work. The other methods of payment inflate or deflate the Architect's fee based on construction variables.

What is our design philosophy?

Architecture is the type of profession that requires both a strong technical and creative base. Some are able to do the engineering and technical production, while others have the creative flair needed to give each building character. I feel that I am an Architect that is a balance of the two. This flexibility allows me to find creative solutions for various design problems while working within the technical constraints. My approach always keeps economy of design a priority.

When designing, I am always sensitive to the context. For instance, if the project is an addition to an existing building, I strive to make the addition look as if it was always part of the building. The context in relation to the site is also important. Some considerations are passive solar design and orientation to maximize natural lighting, as well as other site characteristics, such as slopes, trees, and views. Buildings and their construction should have minimal negative impact on our environment.

Architecture is a fundamental art. Buildings make up a large portion of our environment, and are a very important aspect of life. They must be as practical as a car, while communicating a wide range of expressions. Buildings must be functional, and their design should not stop short of nobility.

Can I see a sample contract?

Absolutely. Click here to see a PDF document of a sample contract.