What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?
Pricing varies by project type. It is usually based on a square footage analysis of the project and then converted to fixed fee. However, some projects are of a size and scope that does not convert easily from square footage. Then I will convert an hourly estimate to a fixed fee.
What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
Typically, I meet with the prospective customer for an hour or two to discuss their project. This first meeting is free. If we feel that we are a good match, I will proceed with putting together a proposal that includes getting fee proposals from consultants if the clients don't already have them. Typically, this is structural engineer and surveyor in the case of residential. In commercial new construction, I add in mechanical, plumbing, and electrical engineers. For tenant finish, I usually get pricing for these last three only.
Once the proposal is signed and I've received the retainer, I will receive back ground information such as survey or existing drawings. IN the case of renovations, I will measure the house myself. With the back ground drawings, I create drawings that show the existing conditions. I overlay these drawings with the new design as expressed by the client. I present these designs. The owner usually changes a few things, then accepts the design. With that, I distribute backgrounds to the engineering consultants. After we have all done our work to get the drawings ready to go to the building department, I will do a round of quality control to ensure that the drawings are coordinated. Once coordinated, they are delivered to the building department for approval. At approval the contractor usually takes over the project. During construction, I am available on an as-needed basis or I am contractually obligated to provide construction observation depending on the needs of the client.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I have a master's degree in architecture from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. I trained for 12 years in New York City before moving to Denver in 1993. I have worked for some of the largest firms here in Denver.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
One of my best classes in high school was drafting. When I went to college, architecture seemed a reasonable choice. I pursued it diligently.
What types of customers have you worked with?
I've worked with property managers, single family home owners, developers, contractors, condominium owners, hoteliers, major corporations, and industrial clients. As an architect, I consider myself a generalist who designs a variety of project types.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
I am generally fond of all my projects. The projects can take from 2 weeks in design to 6 months depending on the complexity of the design, the resolve of the owner, and the restraints of the site. Likewise, getting to the building department after design is complete can take a couple of weeks to several months considering scope and complexity. I will share my perception of a projects time frame when we meet the first time.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
I suggest spending time with them. Get to know their work and their attitude. Look for someone who will fit within your demands for your project. For example, if you are contemplating a custom home, don't use an architect whose major experience is in designing casinos.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
There are so many questions and they vary greatly across project types. For example, for a renovation to a single family home in Denver, the zoning code has a whole lot to say about what you can do. That is generally true for any new building in Denver.
Having an understanding of the cost and financing of the project is very helpful. If the project your contemplating in square feet can be multiplied $200 and you are not dismayed at the outcome, then you can probably do the project. Cheaper of course for renovations only or tenant finish.
Have you examined your options in terms of using existing space? Maybe the scope of your project can be reduced or you don't have quite as much space as you will actually need. This question can cut both ways very easily.
Are there special considerations to be tallied? Is someone with special needs to be accommodated, is the soil particularly bad on the site, is there a commercial kitchen to be included, etc. The answers to these questions can impact costs greatly.