We are licensed architects offering more than 20 years of experience, award winning design and careful consideration of design details. We listen to our clients to achieve the best design possible for the site and budget that reflects their unique desires and ambitions. In other words, we believe that the best use of our expertise and skill is to paint our clients image with the design work we do. We are also very passionate about the design and the success of every project whether the project is large or small, traditional or modern.
We enjoy designing projects where the interiors and exteriors work as a whole and bring the outdoors in. We are constantly researching and reading about both new and old, beautiful, green and affordable products that are available. We work closely with the owners to see that the interior finishes, lighting, kitchens, plumbing fixtures are all thoughtfully chosen and consistent with the design intent. We have access to many options and sources for products and ideas that can take an ordinary project and make it special and tailored for our clients. Our best clients appreciate our creativity and are open minded to hearing ideas and exploring options.
We try our best to make the process fun and engage our clients in the process as much as they want to be engaged.
Our typical process involves six standard phases:
During this phase we start with a preliminary meeting to discuss the project objectives & try to define the scope of the project. A proposal is developed from this meeting outlining the schedule, the design fees associated costs with each phase, and what to expect for the rest of the project. At this time we also review the project for local codes including setbacks, green point requirements, the bulk plane limitations, floor area ratios, etc to determine the build-able area and volume. Surveys and soils reports will also be completed during this phase. Information & photographs of the site, solar orientation, views, and other existing conditions are also examined during this phase.
During this phase we develop scheme(s) that satisfy the requirements outlined in the predesign phase and present those designs schemes in plan and three dimensional models.
Once a schematic scheme is chosen it is defined in terms of selection of all materials for both interior and exterior, structural systems and requirements, and mechanical systems. The majority of the design decisions are made during this phase. Preliminary pricing is also advised at this time to define budgets as the selections are being made and while the building is still in the design phases.
When the design decisions have been made then the construction documentation process progresses seamlessly. Plans, sections, elevations, site plans, fixture & material schedules, structural drawings, doors and windows schedules, details are developed in order to submit for permit and to produce a complete set for bidding and construction. Generally, this is the phase that requires the most time.
During bidding, usually three contractors are carefully selected, interviewed and invited to submit bids on the project. Generally there is a site walkthrough and orientation conducted to introduce the contractors to the project. The bids are then analyzed and any design adjustments are made at this time if necessary. Construction schedules are also reviewed and the owner selects the contractor best suited for the project.
During construction, periodic site visits as well as owner, contractor, architect meetings are scheduled regularly to review any questions from the contractor and subcontractors, and refine details that arise during construction. We also work with the contractor, engineers and other consultants to observe that the construction is progressing according to the plans. We answer and document contractors RFI (requests for information ), review submittals, and contractors applications for payment.
Green Philosophy & Process:
We take a holistic approach to green design. We analyze the sun’s path on every project to determine how best to take advantage of the clean and free energy that the sun provides. For instance, in this climate, overhangs are designed to allow the sun in the winter when heat is desirable and exclude the unwanted heat gain in the summer. The type of glass specified is also carefully chosen depending on orientation. Deciduous trees or other shading devices can be placed to shade the West facing facade from the afternoon heat gain in the summer, yet allow the heat gain in the winter.
We prefer projects that are modest in scale and have the least possible impact on the environment. This approach is green on many levels-less resources are consumed in terms of building materials and therefore less energy is used in transporting materials to the site. The scale of materials is taken into account as building dimensions are fixed to reduce waste. Materials that produce no construction waste are also specified when possible. Also, a modest scale or building only what you need reduces the amount of energy required for heating and cooling and can reduce storm water runoff.
Quality materials and timeless design lead to buildings that stand the test of time. Buildings that are around for a long time because they are built from quality materials and are well designed have less impact on the environment than those that end up being demolished or constantly remodeled because they have become outdated or are poorly designed.
Indoor air quality is always very important, especially when the building is constructed tightly. Proper ventilation is required to ensure that enough fresh air is available. Materials & finishes that don’t off gas are carefully selected. Natural materials such as wood and stone, no VOC paints, concrete, icynene & cotton fiber insulation are all examples of materials that will not off gas.
Renewable energy such as photovoltaics are also considered during the design process. The best application of this technology is to reduce the energy consumption using the simple strategies outlined above prior to sizing systems. We believe that it is a better use of resources to design a house that is modest in scale, with proper insulation, windows with a low u-value, efficient mechanical systems, etc. so that an appropriately sized pv system can be used to offset the smaller amount of energy consumed by this type of home.
Energy audits are highly recommended (and often required) for any remodel or addition project as they pinpoint and prioritize energy saving improvements. They are very affordable. The Center for Resource Conservation offers energy audits at reduced costs.
Design fees vary greatly depending on the type of project, but a very general range to consider when budgeting is between 8-15% of construction costs. We find we often fall below our hourly budgets as we charge only for actual time spent with clearly defined goals for each phase of the process. We strive to be efficient, reduce time spent and keep design costs to a minimum, while still achieving graceful solutions. We find that we are very competitively priced when we write a proposal for a project.