The following is a general outline of the architectural design process we follow for a new home. We will modify our services as necessary to respond to unique conditions of each project we design. This outline will convey the typical role we can play in helping you to realize your new home.
Phase I: Pre Design: (typically charged at an hourly rate)
Our initial efforts seek to determine the options you have for developing your project under the restrictions imposed by local zoning and other regulatory bodies. We research and document the setbacks, height and area restrictions and any other governing by laws, which may influence the direction of your project. We generate a preliminary building code review and bring to your attention any unusual restrictions you may face. We often coordinate the surveying of your property. If we determine that you should further consult a civil engineer or legal professional, expert in a particular challenge of your project, we can act as your liaison to represent your interests and priorities. Depending on the particular scope of your project, we typically conclude this portion of our services with a written and graphic presentation of our findings.
Once we have determined the site conditions of the project, we begin working with you to develop a program for your new home. In a very general way we discuss the types and sizes of rooms, the style and materials you wish to incorporate, the priority of views and solar access, and any other important aspects you wish to include. We may loan you books, our point you to websites like Houzz or Pinterest and other resources, which will aid in articulating your desires and concerns. We discuss and clarify your budget, and study it in relation to your expectations at this time. We generally go through several iterations of this program, expanding and clarifying it with a set of questions each time. The result is a written document which all agree represents the project's intentions and goals.
Once we have identified the approximate scope of the project, we will enter into a more predictable portion of the design process. For most custom homes we allow a period of 6-9 months to accomplish schematic design, design development, construction documents and bidding and negotiation. This period is adjusted to fit the particular needs of each project, but we find this pace to allow the client to feel in control of the process and have the time necessary to digest the hundreds of decisions, which must be made.
Phase II: Schematic Design (20% of the total fee)
In schematic design your program and vision will evolve into a graphic representation, merged with the influences of your site and local regulations. We begin by meeting you at your site and we further discuss the possibilities of your home as it relates to the unique features of the land. We photograph the site and document any information we need to aid us in the siting of your new home. We synthesize the information generated in pre design into a coherent schematic design, which we present to you using 1/8th scale plans and elevations and a three dimensional computer model representing the scheme. The first presentation is a working meeting that often provokes plenty of discussion and comments from you. The first ideas will remain loose to allow you to participate in the process.
Following this meeting, we reexamine the design, modifying and clarifying it in response to your feedback. We prepare a second set of 1/8th scale plans, elevation and sections. Fee adjust and develop further detail in the computer model, adding fenestration and trim details. We study and represent the project's relationship to the land, its access and any integral outdoor spaces. We discuss and select structural and material systems which are integral to achieving your vision. At the second presentation, we provide you with a written statement of probable construction cost based on a comparable square foot take-off. Depending on the complexity of the project, we may require a third iteration and presentation before proceeding with the design.
Phase III: Design Development (20% of the total fee)
The design development phase serves to take the schematic design and expand upon it to contain all of the details and attributes, which will accommodate your lives. This phase becomes the most demanding on our clients, as many difficult decisions must be made. We develop the scheme into 1/4" per foot plans, elevations and sections. Exterior elevations and principle interior elevations are studied and resolved. We begin to discuss finish materials and look more closely at demanding areas such as the living room, the kitchen and bathrooms. We discuss and assess value to a number of functional issues including heating and cooling options, structural systems, communications cabling, lighting systems, low maintenance materials and site issues. We hold several meetings during this period and call on you often, as questions arise and the project achieves more resolution. We make any necessary presentations to local authorities, and confirm that your project will meet all local regulations. We conclude this period with a revised statement of probable construction cost, which reflects the additional detail and insight we have achieved to date.
Phase IV: Construction Documents (30% of the total fee)
The construction document phase produces a set of drawings and written material which convey the scope of the project in enough detail to have a contractor accurately predict the cost of the construction. We typically include, depending on the scope of your project, a complete set of architectural drawings, a site plan, structural foundation plans, framing plans, structural system coordination drawings, lighting plans and schedules and a written specification with instructions to the bidders. We provide documentation and affidavits as required for permit by the local building official. As we generate this information, we will often call on you for additional clarification. We typically hold two additional meetings to convey our progress and clarify remaining questions.
Phase V: Bidding and Negotiation (5% of the total fee)
There are several ways to approach the bidding of your project for construction. The traditional way is to invite several qualified contractors to price the construction of your home upon the completion of all of the construction documents. The lowest bidder is typically awarded the project. However, we often recommend an alternative approach, which we have used almost exclusively over the past few years. We first bid the job to several qualified contractors requesting a cost range when the construction documents are 70% complete. We then interview each of the contractors and review their proposed cost breakdown. We will choose the contractor on their price, as well as the enthusiasm and insight they express for the project. We can then employ the knowledge and opinions of the contractor and their subcontractors in the final 30% of construction documents. We find that we develop a team relationship with the contractor, which ultimately generates a better quality, more efficient project.
Once we have identified a contractor, we enter the construction phase of the project. We typically estimate the construction period for a custom home to be between 8 to 12 months, depending on the complexity of the project.
Phase VI: Construction Administration (25% of the total fee)
The construction administration phase primarily serves to monitor the construction of the home and assure it is being built to the standards represented in the construction document. However, another very important role we have is to facilitate changes which naturally occur as the project takes shape. Especially in residential design, we find that as the project moves from drawing to building, the client becomes much more comfortable and able to participate in the detail decisions. We can help to foster this participation to assure the client feels ownership of the project, while monitoring the impacts of change on the cost and schedule. Our services during construction include site meetings appropriate to the stage and scale of the job (typically weekly or biweekly.) We document the topics discussed at site meetings with meeting notes. We provide clarification sketches and review payment requisitions. We will provide aid in the selection of colors, lighting fixtures and other finish materials.
Fee for Services:
We primarily work with a combination hourly fee which transitions to a fixed fee, we enter the predesign and schematic design process for an hourly rate with a time estimate covering only that phase. Once we have completed the schematic design, we establish a clear understanding of the scope and expectations of the project, from which we can determine a fixed fee for our services for the remaining phases. This fixed fee, including the hourly fees generally falls in the 10-12% range.
We also work for a percentage of construction fee, which sets our fee as a percentage of gross construction cost, depending on the size and complexity of the project. Generally the smaller the project the higher the fee percentage, since each project, regardless of cost, shares a similar base design requirement. As the project evolves through each of the phases, we monitor the probable construction cost in relation to the scope of services we are providing. Only additions or subtractions in value, which directly change the scope of our services, will initiate a fee adjustment.
The third option is an hourly rate with a time estimate. This method is used primarily for very small projects or portions of a larger project.
Invoicing for Services:
Beginning in pre design, we will send you monthly invoices, which reflect the hours or percentage of work completed to date. The invoices will clearly indicate the work completed within each phase, using the above outline as a reference. Invoice will also include any reimbursable expenses generated during the period. Reimbursable expenses will include out of house printing, plotting and photocopies, long distance phone calls, site photographs, modeling materials, and mileage during construction administration. If any outside consultant services other than structural engineering services are required, we will bill them directly to you as a reimbursable expense.