Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need design plans?
A well thought out design provides the following:
- an accurate representation of what is going to be built (your vision)
- a document which is used for accurate pricing of your project and what items are included or excluded
- a document which becomes part of our Agreement (along with the Construction Estimate)
- a set of construction documents with which a building permit is obtained
Design-Build - What does this mean?
Design-Build means that one company handles your design & building needs. It is our team that helps you develop your wish list and ideas, convert them to sketches, working drawings and finally construction documents that are used to build your project. Our in-house construction team then turns your ideas into reality by providing highly supervised project management of your project to ensure the highest level of quality, continuous monitoring of the schedule and ensuring your original vision.
For this to happen, your budget must be discussed up front so that our designs and construction costs reflect the agreed budget. If our designs start to veer off of your construction budget, we can adjust the designs or product selections to stay on track. Any changes that you decide to make during the design process may affect 1) the design costs, 2) the design time and 3) the construction costs. Because we build our own designs, we know how much things cost. So as changes are made, you have a realistic and honest sense of what your project will cost will be.
Why is Design-Build better?
Traditional Architect vs. Builder vs. Owner relationships have several disadvantages including:
- Increased design time due to much more detail required in the plans and time allowances for price checking
- Increased design costs due to more time and detail required
- Construction cost overages and redesign work due to designs coming in over budget
- Working with unknown builders with whom you're relying on dismantling your home (usually at the recommendation of the architect) who is charged with providing safety for your family and protection of your investment and
- The disadvantage of working with multiple entities with different agendas.
By working with us through the design process, we'll get to know each other. We will have a common goal which is to develop and produce your vision into a product that you can afford and that we all can be proud of. Most importantly, you'll have the peace of mind of knowing who the individuals are that are working on your home and becoming part of your extended family for a period of time.
Will the design of my project suffer by not hiring an architectural firm?
Not in the least. Our award winning staff has not only years of design experience but also an extensive amount of field experience and first-hand practical knowledge. This comes in handy by having seen and built countless design ideas originating from many different design sources. Experience benefits our clients in that our designs are buildable, they're not just concepts and they meet or exceed building code requirements. As a Company, all of our employees participate in continuing education, advanced degrees and attendance at trade seminars and shows to be up on all of the latest industry developments.
How do I know I'm getting a fair price without competitive bidding?
Welcome to Design-Build! For many companies discussing money is taboo. We feel costs and budgets are an essential component to discuss prior to starting any design project. One quick and easy way to get a sense of a project's cost is to use common square footage costs for similar projects that we've completed.
In addition, we perform several conceptual pricing alternatives to analyze the cost benefits of different solutions and let you choose which is best for you.
Our reputation and past clients are testimonials to our fairness and quality of services that we provide. Our thoughts on "bidding" are that ultimately it is a disservice to consumers because of the following:
- Bids reflect only initial lowest price and not value.
- Bids potentially say more about a contractor's desire to sign more work rather than their integrity, character, skills and value provided.
- Bids naturally set up an adversarial relationship where the contractor is forced to cut corners and keep his costs low because he was the lowest bidder rather than focusing on value and what's best for the client.
- Bidding reduces the time that the contractor has to get acquainted with the project and therefore may not include all elements that are required. In addition, the contractor may not fully understand the key elements that are driving the designs of the project.
If you required brain surgery you wouldn't seek the lowest price would you? Lowest price also does not make sense when attempting to increase the value of what is probably one of your largest investments, your home.
Where do I start?
Call us to schedule a 1 hour appointment in your home. We will discuss your ideas and see the physical space that you have to work with. Be prepared to spend 15-20 minutes with us on the phone before we agree to a meeting to make sure our Services are right for you.
Budget Review: What do you expect to spend for the work that you want accomplished? We will review the scope of work, compare it to your budget and give you our feedback. It benefits no one to agree to an unrealistic budget so you'll get our honest opinion.
Design-Build Agreement: Once the scope of work and budget are identified and agreed upon, you'll sign our Design Concept Agreement and return it with a non-refundable design retainer fee (approx. 3% of estimated budget) that pays for our initial conceptual planning stage. Now we're underway!
Once our Concept plans are completed and agreed upon we'll check the construction budget again. If the Concept plans meet your budget we'll proceed with the next step of design drawings and schedule a start date for construction. If the budget is off course, we modify the conceptual plans to best meet the budget.
Before proceeding with the design drawings we will ask for a non-refundable construction deposit of approximately 15% of the agreed upon Construction Costs. This deposit does two things. It authorizes us to finalize the construction documents and it holds a place in our construction schedule to start once the drawings have been completed.
Once the final construction documents and final price are agreed upon, the building permit can be obtained and the work may begin.
What if the final price exceeds our original or modified budget?
Upon completion of the full-scale design and construction drawings we will do a final price check. We will factor any agreed design changes that may have caused a modification in the agreed budget and compare that to our final pricing. If the final price is within 5% of the final adjusted budget we ask you to sign off on the final price. If the final price is not within 5% we may work together to revise the plans to better meet the budget. If the final price cannot meet the final budget, our Agreement can be terminated. 3% of the agreed adjusted budget (in addition to the Concept Agreement amount, a total of approximately 6%) will be retained as a design fee and the remainder of your deposit will be returned.
What if I'm not happy with the conceptual plans?
If we cannot satisfy your design or budget requirements or if you're not happy in any way, our Agreement can be terminated (see above for terms).
Can I hire someone else to build from your plans?
Upon payment in full, the Concept plans are yours to keep. However, the working drawings, construction drawings and specifications are for our own use only. They may not be used by any third party in any way.