~ ADDITIONS / RENOVATIONS ~
Interview - The first step is to meet, see the house, and to get a handle on the scope of work required, including the budget and the time frame. The first meeting is both an interview and a review of the goals of the client. It is standard for me to evaluate the feasibility of the project and discuss construction costs in a general way. This meeting is simply an introduction to the process and rough attempt to review feasibility. It should not be considered a design session. If you wish for me to bring a portfolio, let me know, or please visit our web site at www.petercooperarchitects.com. There is no charge for the interview which typically lasts under an hour. A follow up interview would require a small retainer, and be considered a consultation.
Design Process - A work agreement follows the interview, typically within ten days, which includes a start date. The time allowance for the complete design and finished drawings is roughly 2-3 months, base on the needs of the client. The client should figure about 5 months to be ready to start the project from the time the call is made to the architect, under normal circumstances. This depends on the town's review period, the builder's schedule, and the other circumstances. This time table may change if the project is more difficult or if there is a need to expedite the work.
There are four phases to the design:
Preliminary Design - the architect measures and photographs the house, reviews the zoning, reviews the program with the client and prepares the existing condition base drawings. The zoning has become a major part of the evaluation process in most towns, and can be quite complex. An engineer may be recommended for larger projects, at this time.
Concept Design - The architect evolves the design in rough sketch form, with client meetings as required. It is standard procedure to review the sketches with a builder(s) to verify that the budget factors which may effect decisions on design. During the current difficult economic times, this part has grown to be a major part of the design decision making process.
Final Design - This stage is when the design is refined to its final form. Client provides answers to a product and design questionnaire so that the design can be finalized and proceed to working drawings.
Working Drawings - This phase provides all the information for the town and the builders, as well as all the detail information important to the design. It allows for a "bid set" to be provided so that accurate bid numbers from the builder can be acquired.
Selecting a Builder - The process of selecting a builder requires the client's time. We provide the client with a limited appropriate list of builders, and provide assistance in how to select the right builder. Our 20 years of experience provides a good basis to recommend the right builder. We discuss the issues of builder cost and quality, to determine who is right for you.
The discussion of budget and estimated construction cost happens at the interview, in general form, and again during the sketch phase. In recent years we have incorporated a "pre-bid discussion" for the client with several builders, as a way of clients obtaining advanced understanding of potential construction costs. This process has become extremely valuable to clients not only on figuring if all the program is feasible, but on having advanced understanding about who they may wish to work with, and why.
Since construction costs are market sensitive, only after final bids are received can accurate numbers be expected.
Schedule/Construction Phase - If a new house takes an average of about one year, a client can estimate by comparison how long an addition will take, based on the size of the project. A simple project takes at least 3 months. The involvement of a kitchen or bath may extend the time required. For large projects, it is always preferred for the client to move out of the house. As a rule, I include one visit to the project during construction and one meeting with the builder prior to starting. More involvement in supervision may be desirable for large projects and should be discussed.
Fees/How we work - Our arrangement is based on an allowance of estimated time, based on a fee of $150/hour. The allowance of time is based on projects we have done which are similar. There is a range of time provided for those phases where some flexibility is required, such as the design phase. I often quote a minimum fee, which may be adjusted based on our work load, typically starting around 4K. Moderate size projects typically run about 6-8K. Larger projects need to be assessed on a project by project basis, based on complexity.
There is no charge for the first interview. However, if there is a need for a follow up interview, there would be a consultation fee. Some clients require some zoning review before engaging our services, and we can discuss how this would work.
Summary - A well done set of architectural plans adds value to a project not only for a tasteful design, but a well thought out design. Smart decisions and good plans actually save money. Not only the big decisions- flow, roof lines, materials, and "the look" are at issue, but also the little decisions such as spacing of windows, clearances for trim, providing enough light--they are all important. Issues at stake are those that only become apparent after you live with the finished project. A good design accounts for the proper allocation of the budget. This sets the stage for all other decisions where details and material choices are very cost sensitive.
A good set of drawings allows the process to move smoothly with least stress to all involved. The experience of the architect contributes significantly to the overall value of the house. By planning wisely, the client can put the right team together, and enjoy the benefits a smart investment and improved lifestyle.