The process of architecture is long and personal. Forming strong relationships is important from the outset. The initial meeting is a time to express goals and aspirations, to discuss budget and constraints, but above all a time to get acquainted. Our goal is to establish good teamwork and communication in the very first meeting.
We emphasize an iterative process of design wherein we share with the client as often as possible. The client is a critical part of the design team. We try to foster a climate of open communication that gives the client a free hand in influencing and determining design directions from the outset. This iterative approach takes the form of early and frequent communications that begin with rough floor plans. When the plan direction is looking promising to the whole team, we move into 3d renderings. All of our projects are rendered in 3d and this proves an invaluable design tool for both our studio and the clients.
Towards the end of the schematic design stage we typically do a budget check on the project by sending out a set of plans, renderings, and an outline specification to a selected builder. The process of this initial estimate normally takes about three weeks and gives us a good estimate of projected budget, but is still early enough in the process to allow changes in both scope and materials as needed to bring the project into conformance with the target budget.
As we move into design development, we begin finalizing the building mechanical systems, materials, and finishes. We are committed to sustainable design, and from the outset of each project we have solar orientation, shading and daylighting in mind. However, it is in this phase that many of the active elements of sustainable design are introduced, such as solar panels, heating systems, and material choices.
At this stage we collaborate with consultants, subcontractors, and fabricators to refine details and specifications. In the construction industry today with rapidly changing resources, it is the consultants, subcontractors, and suppliers that often have the most up to date information and expertise.
We are general contractors ( and built many projects ourselves in the past ) as well as architects, and this expertise proves very useful as we enter the construction phase. We understand the build-ability of the design and the methods that will be used. For most projects we recommend the standard approach of requesting bids from two or three contractors to arrive at a guaranteed maximum price.
Our involvement in the construction phase varies from project to project. On the smaller projects, especially where the details are relatively simple, we may need only a few site visits during the course of construction. On larger projects we typically schedule a recurring weekly site visit with the client and builder.
Project completion typically involves a series of punch lists and the collection of final inspection documents. For larger projects we also provide documentation of the completed work in the form of a project binder. This binder includes: copies of all final sign offs from public agencies, the contact info for all contractors, subcontractors and consultants that worked on the job, the location of key building elements including shut off valves, transformers, and access panels, and key specifications for project specific materials and methods.The goal of the binder is essentially to create a long term memory for the project
Typically we charge on an hourly basis. We prefer this as it allows the client to change the scope of our services without additional agreements. For instance, the client can decide to increase our services by having us do the landscape design. Alternately, they can decide to take on part of the planning process themselves, thereby reducing our services. We are also open to a fixed fee that is determined once the scope of the work is clearly established, normally at the completion of schematic design