Frequently Asked Questions
I have wanted to be an architect since I was in fifth grade and even did an independent study on residential architecture in my final year of high school. I have been practicing passive and active solar and “green” design full time since 1996; it is my specialty and my passion. This includes everything from lot analysis, natural ventilation, day-lighting and how the immediate environment can benefit the design to choices in insulation and mechanical systems, roofing, windows and doors, xeriscaping, paint selections, cabinetry and countertops, just to start.
I always work with a budget and try to give clients as much information about their choices as I can so that they can make informed decisions that they have to make and therefore get the best value for the money they are spending.
How many residential projects have you completed?
Since starting in Carborro in 1996 I have worked on 160+ home projects of various sizes from small remodels to large total house renovations to complete new homes.
Is there a list of past clients that we can contact and maybe see their homes? Is there a website with pictures of these homes?
Yes, to both questions. Most clients are thrilled to show you their home and talk to you about their project. Usually it is best to meet first and talk about your specific style and project and try to get clients with similar interests to yours. Please explore this website for images of recent projects.
How do you organize the process?
The process is broken into 4 phases; programming and schematic design, design development, construction drawings and architectural supervision.
What is expected from the client?
What I want from you is good, honest interaction, both positive and negative, so we can push the design and make it fit you just right. It is important that we go back and forth throughout the design to make sure you get exactly what you want.
How do you gather information about needs and objectives?
I will ask you to gather pictures and write lists of things that help you to describe what you want in your home. Then we talk through the lists to flush out the ideas so I can better understand your needs. I ask a lot of questions. It is important to get to know each other really well.
Are there builders you prefer to work with, and why?
Yes, there are several builders that I have worked with over the years and I work with them because they do a good job, look after my clients and produce a high quality product. I am happy to provide a list for you if you would like. We usually start talking to builders in the schematic design phase. Although price is always a part of the process, matching you with a builder whose personality compliments yours and who works in a way that facilitates your needs is what I start to look for as we begin to work together. I am also happy to work with your builder if that is your preference. It is always good to make a good new contact.
How do you set your fee, and what services are included in that fee? How deeply can you be involved, if necessary (e.g. help with interior design, choice of fixtures, etc.)?
For new construction, my fee is based on a percent of the cost of construction. Initially fees are based on your budget. They are adjusted when the ballpark and concept design are agreed upon and finalized with a signed contract with the builder. The fees are broken down to 25% for schematic design, 25% for design development, 25% for construction drawings and 25% for architectural supervision. I bill monthly based on how far through each phase we are.
These fees include: site evaluation, programming, schematic design, computer modeling, design development, construction drawings and architectural supervision during construction including site visits and inspections of the quality of work. I help with cabinet and built-in design, materials selection (countertops, tile, appliances, fixtures) and even colors if you need it. I help you with all the pieces that are integral to the house. Although I help with a lot of selections I would also work together with any other professionals that you may decide upon (interior designer, lighting consultant, landscaper) to make sure that it all works together. I am happy to offer an opinion on any element of the design as needed.
Renovations are billed hourly and you will receive an itemized bill each month. I offer the same option of services listed above depending what is best matched to your project.
What scenarios might occur whereby additional fees are required in a new house contract?
My fees do not include other professionals fees including structural engineers, surveyors etc. that are likely to be needed to complete the project. These charges will be itemized in the invoice and I am happy to forward any invoices I get to you for your records.
In new construction the intent is that we are always moving forward, in a linear fashion, towards the goal of completing your house. If for any reason we need to return to an earlier phase, such as redesigning the house once we have started construction drawings, then I bill hourly until we solve the concern and then we return to the contract.
What is your availability (earliest start date)?
It depends on my current workload and I can give you that information when we meet. If I have a short wait period, I would direct you to gather information during this time; we would look at what you should start thinking about, talking about, and looking at as you prepare for the programming meeting. It is nice to do this when you are not pushed to a deadline. I am happy to give you specific things to do including places to visit and the right people to start talking to.
What would be a rough estimated timeline for the project from start (hiring an architect) to finish (move in)?
The design process depends a lot on you; how easily you make decisions, how regularly we can meet etc. But, generally it takes about 6-8 months for the design process. As you can see from what I have described (and I have only touched the surface) there is a lot of work to do. If I had any advice, it would be to spend as much time in design as you can. Although it is exciting to break ground and see your home start being built it will take less time and cost less money if you take the time to plan as much as you can.
Construction time will depend on the extent of the work but we can make a pretty good estimate early on in the process. It is important to try to be realistic at this point and throughout the project. There are lots of things that can speed it up and slow it down, which we can discuss further, but I would like to add that since you are making a huge investment in time, money and in yourselves, it is important to get it right.