However much we wish it were so, there is no set way of involving an architect in your construction project. We’ve been hired by clients at the earliest daydream stage and have also been brought in by builders after the sawdust has started flying. And you know what? All of those projects were successful. So no matter how you go about your project, we’re sure it will turn out fine (well, provided you use a trusted builder).
It’s All About the Team
Collaboration between builder, architect, designer—and homeowner—is essential in any successful project. Bob Ernst, president at the Builders and Remodelers Association of Greater Boston recently wrote an article “Are You Having Good B/A/D Talks?” We think it's a must read for anyone about to embark on a home project.
Over the years we’ve learned a thing or two about how to make a project not only successful, but also smooth, less stressful—even fun! Drawing from our experience, we’ve come up with our ideal process. Clients who follow this path encounter fewer surprises, maintain steadier pulse rates, have healthier relationships with their builders, and send us more holiday cards.
- Define the Objectives – The project first starts rolling here. We meet with you to gather an understanding of your most basic needs, your wish list, and what you want to spend. Determining priorities becomes very important as the objectives get matched up against the wallet.
- Design – This step is highly iterative as we fold in the project objectives with the characteristics of the existing house (if any), the property, and your lifestyle. Because that last piece is so critical to creating the most satisfying end-product, we really grill you on your habits, your hobbies, and your daily domestic patterns. At the end of this step we have a series of sketches that can be used to get a reality check on cost.
- Estimate Costs – Before becoming too committed to a design, past clients have found it extremely beneficial to obtain a rough cost estimate (we agree!). We can assist you in hiring an estimator who will provide an educated and accurate final project cost based on the sketches.
- Refine the Design – Usually, this cost estimate sends us back to the drawing board to re-examine the objectives and refine the sketches to fit the budget. In rare cases, the estimate actually allows us to expand the scope and incorporate more items from the wish list.
- Pick a Builder – Now that we’re comfortable that the designs meet both the objectives and the budget, it’s time to find a builder. We will gladly recommend some trusted, high-quality builders with whom we’ve worked in the past to supplement your own list. Once you’ve received their estimates, you make your selection.
- Specify Materials & Systems – At this stage in the process, we schedule a series of 3-way meetings to get at the nitty-gritties: mechanical systems; electrical requirements; suppliers; etc. These meetings may uncover things that necessitate adjustments to the design.
- Finalize Drawings for Permitting – Now the project is full steam ahead. We go to work producing the final detailed construction drawings from which the structure will be built. With these drawings your builder can apply for the building permit from your town.
- Select Finishes – This step is strictly optional, but can go a long way to ensuring that the original vision is carried throughout every detail of your home. We can help you select plumbing and lighting fixtures, cabinetry, trim, molding, and more. We really cherish this part of the process, as it represents the final step in transforming your house into a home.