Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t Chris tell me how much my project will cost to build?

Often, cost estimations can be determined by the end of phase 2 of the design process. Costs cannot be accurately determined until a contractor has priced the scope of work. There are many costs that only the person who is going to construct the project can account for. Some of these include the cost of labor, who they will hire, and how much they will be paid. The contractor also adds on a mark-up for overseeing the subcontractors and for the cost of materials. Overhead and profit is also taken into consideration.

How can Christopher control costs?

The architect does have the ability to influence cost through design, the design process and alternates. When a budget is clearly defined up front, a design can be fashioned to fit within an acceptable range of costs. Through the design process and in conjunction with a contractor, estimates of preliminary designs can be made to ascertain the need to scale down a design to lessen the cost. Contained within the final drawing set, alternate design features can be established to provide ways of either adding or subtracting from the overall cost once the final pricing is known.

I saw it done on TV (HGTV and Houzz)?

Like many people, Christopher also watches these shows, but solely for the purpose of entertainment! Programs such as HGTV are designed to increase ratings and sell advertising. They do not have a responsibility to represent design or construction accurately or true to life. View with caution, and popcorn! These types of projects in real life cannot be done in a matter of days and inevitably cost more than what is represented on television.

How do you charge?

Christopher finds that the most cost-effective approach for clients is a combination of hourly rates and estimated fees. In the early stages of a project, when parameters are unknown, hourly rates can be appropriate for both parties. Once a good relationship and a more clearly-defined scope have been established, Christopher and his clients often switch to compensation based on an estimated or fixed fee. Both clients and projects have their own unique situations. Christopher looks at the whole picture when estimating a fee for his services and provides free estimates of the design fees as part of a proposal.

Why do I need drawings?

Properly prepared drawings are the basis for the relationship between you, the owner, and the chosen contractor. They can be used as a means to solicit bids from several contractors allowing comparative pricing to be of equal terms. They are also required by the building department as a condition of obtaining a permit. Once construction begins, they became part of the written documents that make up the contract between you and the builder. The contract, including the drawings, serves as a reference as to what amount of work is to be done, in what way, and for how much money. Without this documentation, there is no basis for your wishes to be executed in a manner consistent with your intentions. Having poor documentation–or worse–none at all–typically leads to larger problems as construction unfolds. The undefined project is one of the leading causes of cost overruns.

How long will it take to design and build?

An early start to design, six-to-nine months before the proposed construction date, is a fair amount of time. This time estimation allows not only for research, but also for time to contemplate decisions and navigate the permitting process. A concerted effort to make sound decisions should be a priority as changes during construction can be very expensive. Take time to consider your options in the design phase and be certain of these decisions before construction begins. Construction can take an additional three-to-nine months, depending on the size of the project.

As the client, what are my responsibilities?

As your architect, Christopher is your partner. A successful relationship between architect, owner, contractor, or builder comes from a willingness of all of these parties to understand and accept their responsibilities to realize a successful project. As the client, you will have many tasks to complete. Some of the work you take on will save you money in architectural fees, while other tasks will require your personal attention because they affect the final aesthetics of the home. Christopher tries to structure the tasks so that you can participate based on your financial and personal taste. Any design project will require you to set aside time from your daily life to participate in the process. The amount of time you have to contribute should be discussed at the project onset.

Who else is involved in the process?

The architect and builder are not alone. Many other people are part of the process. Christopher helps coordinate other design professionals required to meet the technical aspects of your project. Other professionals may include structural engineers, mechanical engineers, site surveyors, soils engineers, lighting consultants, and possibly more based on the project parameters and your wishes.

How does Green building affect me?

​While going Green in every manner that you can is generally a good thing, keep a few things in mind before proceeding with your building project. Embodied energy is contained in all products around us and in the effort to position those products in place. By removing an old structure or excavating land to build a new one, you are consuming embodied energy, which is consuming natural resources. Disposal of old, unwanted materials and the consumption of new materials is generally not a Green process. If you make the decision to dispose of the old and consume the new, it becomes your Green responsibility to do so wisely.

There are many Green products and procedures you can engage when designing, and Christopher is happy to discuss this topic at length in person. The most important thing you can do is to save energy over the long term–although not the most exciting–is the building envelope (foundation, walls, roofs, windows, and doors). By making the envelope of your home air-tight and super-insulated, you will save tremendous amounts of energy over the lifespan of the house. These issues are also regulated by code and is the single most important, easiest and least expensive way to go Green. After you have addressed these aspects of construction should you then consider all the other available components of designing a greener home. Christophers most trusted Green resource is: