The typical project starts with a preliminary design and feasibility phase. During this phase we work with the client to understand their needs and aspirations – to help develop a “wish list.” We then gather information about the property including photos, floor plans, zoning restrictions, etc. We can then quickly develop several possible alternatives, usually ranging from a more restrained economical approach to a best case, “blue sky” approach. We develop budgets for each alternative. This phase takes three to six weeks and is concluded with a meeting to review the options and determine which approach best meets the client’s needs and budget.
Once the design approach and budget are determined, we provide a proposal for the remainder of the project. For most projects the next steps are design development, contract documents*, bidding and permitting, and contract administration (construction).
*About half of the architectural time required for a project is devoted to the contract documents. These typically contain all the plans and details required for construction, plus schedules and specifications for lighting, plumbing fixtures, and all materials. In many cases we also review and certify compliance with the state energy code.
Our fees are based on the type of project, the size and complexity, but are generally proportional to the construction cost. In the industry, architect’s fees are typically 8-15% of construction costs. We always provide a fee proposal at the start of a project so that there are no unexpected fees.
Our inclination is towards a warm modern design vocabulary that feels clean and relaxing and incorporates natural materials. However we have done projects in many styles from minimalist modern to New England traditional- including western rustic, mission, arts and crafts, shaker, and colonial. All of these can be really interesting and fun when appropriate for the setting. In each case, we apply the details in a consistent and intentional manner to support the over-all vision for the project.
In many cases, “good design” is less about a particular style and more about organization and simplification. Especially today, residential clients have multiple interests and a lot of “stuff.” We design living spaces that allow clients to have clean and organized homes and this helps provide a feeling of comfort and control.
If your renovation project is small and does not involve moving plumbing fixtures or moving structural walls you may not need permits and you may be able to get by without an architect. On the other hand, it could benefit you to have the project organized and documented clearly so you can get competitive bids. Contractors usually prefer to have an architect involved because the project is easier to estimate, conflicts are avoided ahead of time, and the decisions for fixtures and finishes are made in advance, so the work proceeds more smoothly. The architect will also be your advocate in making sure that the contractor meets their obligations for the project.
Joseph grew up spending summers at a tiny bay house on a marshy island off of Long Island that could only be reached by boat, had no electricity, and limited fresh water. He learned a lot about conserving the limited supplies available, respecting the vast ecosystem and being conscious of waste.
In our design work we always look for ways to create spaces that are healthy, efficient, durable, and easy to maintain. We reuse what we can, look for ways to use local low impact materials, build simply and efficiently, take advantage of natural light and conserve energy with the best insulation and most efficient windows, fixtures and appliances.
Joseph is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional, allowing him to design LEED certified buildings.