Our primary focus is single-family residential remodels, additions and custom homes. We also undertake certain commercial projects such as office remodels and restaurant tenant improvements.
We work on the simple premise that no job is too small or too big. Over the years we have designed projects as simple as interior kitchen and bath remodels to complete custom homes. The largest custom home we have designed was approximately 14,000 sf. However, the vast majority of our projects fall between these two extremes.
Over the years, we have produced designs that cover a variety of styles from Craftsman and Prairie style to Mid-Century and California Ranch to name a few. However, it is our practice that the designs we produce always match our client's style, personalities and lifestyles.
With that being said, however, if the proposed design will change the exterior appearance of the front of the existing house, it is best to design to a specific architectural style that will please the property owner while still staying within the "character" of the surrounding neighborhood. A Craftsman, Tudor, or Mediterranean style home may be better suited in these situations and should employ context sensitive elements and materials that will not be a jarring departure from its surroundings. As opposed to say a post-modern design that may stick out like a sore thumb. In general, a creatively designed addition should be compatible with the neighborhood but still have the confidence to tastefully depart from the ordinary.
Our fees are never based on a percentage of the construction costs, and for most typical jobs we will usually charge a fixed fee. Since each project is unique (each design must meet the needs of the client as well as comply with the existing property constraints, budget and local governing agency requirements), our fees are based on the amount of work involved with each particular project. Also, the portion of larger or extremely challenging projects that involve special agency approvals such as Planning may be charged on an hourly basis. However, as a general rule of thumb, our fee usually equals out to about 5% of the project's total construction cost. The larger the project (typically additions over 1000 sf. or new custom homes) the lower the percentage may be.
If a client desires only to utilize our pre-construction or other stand alone consultation services, these services will typically be provided on an hourly basis or under contract.
In general, Yes. Changes can be made at any time. However, the point at which a particular change is requested will determine whether or not the change can be accommodated without any additional cost. Prior to preliminary design approval, any changes desired by the client can be made without any additional charge. Once the design has been approved and the construction document phase has begun, changes can still be made, but the client may incur additional fees. Although, our process is optimized to minimize the need to make modifications after design development approval, since all of our projects are implemented using CAD many small non-structural changes can still be made during the construction drawing phase at no additional charge. Just remember, changes should be made as early as possible in the design or drawing phases because once construction has begun any changes will be costly.
In general, second story additions are more expensive than ground level additions because of all the structural retro-fit work that usually has to be done to the existing house in order to accommodate the new addition. Also, many cities have specific requirements and regulations governing the design, size and placement of a second story addition.
Basements can be as costly as second story additions if not more costly. A significant advantage to a basement is that it preserves precious rear yard space on small lots, and most cities don't count the new basement living space as additional "floor area" or "lot coverage". However, access to the site for the required heavy excavation equipment may be an issue. Also, the new basement requires stairs from inside the house, exit windows (possibly with window wells) from any sleeping rooms and may require exterior exit stairs to the outside.
Local construction costs can vary greatly. We have all heard about extreme cases where a contractor was charging perhaps $400 per square foot or more. However, these figures are all just generalizations and are only helpful to determine basic construction costs for a given period of time, in a specific area. Although, a more typical and customary range for current construction costs is approximately $250 per square foot. Square footage pricing for second story additions is typically higher. These square footage prices should never be relied upon for any final decision making process.
Any reliable and competent contractor will tell you the only way to get specific construction costs is to provide complete information to them in the form of accurate and detailed construction plans. This is where we come in and why professionally prepared construction documents are so important.
Once the design development process is complete, there is enough information for a contractor to review and provide a rough estimate. If your proposed budget is extremely tight, we recommend contacting several contractors, so that they can provide you with cursory bids. Preliminary review by a contractor allows the client to determine if a proposed design will be too costly to stay within budget before completing the detailed construction plans. It also allows the client to begin interviewing contractors without the pressure of competitive bidding. These estimates will not be 100% accurate until the completed construction drawings can be given to your contractor for final analysis. However, this is the best time to see what different contractors have to offer, check references, get to know them as individuals and let final project pricing become more of a secondary concern.
The initial consultation meeting gives us the opportunity to discuss your proposed project requirements, feasibility, budget, and time frame in more detail. Our general impressions and suggestions will be given regarding feasibility and budget expectations during our initial meeting.
Generally, there is no charge for the initial consultation. An exception to this might be, for example, if the potential client is not yet the actual property owner and is considering making a purchase based on project feasibility. In that situation a consultation fee would apply.
If you are prepared for an initial consultation, please call or email our office and we will set up an appointment to fit everyone's schedule.