HOW WE WORK

INTRODUCTION

Over the past twenty years, I have developed an efficient, enjoyable, and collaborative design process that generates outstanding results.  The evidence comes from happy clients living in homes that are well built and timeless in style — many of whom return to work with us again on future projects years later.  

THE GOAL

My goal (and my greatest joy) is to create a beautiful home that will nurture and inspire you.   When a project is complete, my clients can often no longer remember what was once there — whether the starting point was a vacant lot or an existing house — because what’s there now simply “belongs.”  

MY DESIGN PHILOSOPHY

In my designs, vintage and warm modern are comfortable together.  I use materials that have soul — natural wood, metals, plaster, and stone — to create timeless environments.  (Nature never goes out of fashion, after all.)  I use natural light to create a sense of expansiveness even on overcast Pacific Northwest days.

My inspiration is rooted in the traditional elements of historic homes and edited with an eye for modern simplicity.  I believe that while “less can be more,” more can also be “more.”  And, both can be overdone.  Spaces that feel good need to be balanced, much like our lives.

I create spaces that are deceptively simple — unfussy to the eye while being highly functional.  I love to design so that the grand spaces, such as the front entry hall, are enjoyed by everyone on a daily basis.

COMPREHENSIVE SERVICES

Many other firms offer a minimal level of services and charge extra for services that are included in my fee.  Over the past twenty years, I have carefully constructed a comprehensive services package based on feedback from contractors, subcontractors, vendors, plans reviewers, and homeowners just like you.

The builders I work with tell me that my drawings and specifications are the best they’ve seen and a dream to work with.  This translates into more accurate, and often lower, pricing from your builder.  

BEFORE WE START

Detailed information about your property will be needed.  This may include licensed survey, as-built drawings, neighborhood covenants, soils reports, etc. I will let you know which of these will be necessary for your project.

Inspiration photos are a fantastic way to communicate preferences.  I would love to see any magazine clippings, real estate listings, or online images you've collected.  If you use websites like Houzz or Pinterest, be sure to note what you like (or don't like, if that also exists in the same photo) in the comments area below each image.

You will need to summarize your basic requirements for the project including your timeline, budget and scope of work.  I find it helpful to create a list of items in the following categories:  Must Have, Would Be Nice (but could live without), and Don’t Want/Like/Need. 

ASSEMBLING OUR DREAM TEAM

At the end of Schematic Design, you will interview and pre-select your general contractor.  This has many advantages including access to early input on relative costs and construction sequencing.  This is similar to — but far better than — working with a design/build firm because you will have the benefit of your architect and builder working collaboratively while also having the assurance that decisions are being made in your best interest since BOTH of us work directly for YOU.

Another advantage of contractor pre-selection is that you will still be able to get "competitive bids" from multiple subcontractors and vendors.  And, since your contractor will be planning ahead, construction will be able to begin soon after your permit is issued.

I have worked with many talented contractors in the Seattle area, and I am happy to suggest candidates for your project.  For each contractor that I adore, there was once a first time that I worked with them.  If you wish to consider someone I have not worked with before, I will be happy to interview them and check in with any architects listed as references.

My expectation is that the entire team will work collaboratively to find an acceptable solution to any challenges we encounter.  The contractors and tradespersons I work with tend to be like-minded, talented, perfectionistic people who are excellent at solving puzzles and want more than anything to have a happy client at the end of the project.

I will recommend any consultants necessary for your project.  In most cases, you will hire them directly under a separate agreement.  If you prefer, or if the consultant requires, they can contract directly with me.  In that case, I would bill their fees as a reimbursable expense.

If you will be working with a separate interior designer to select furnishings and window coverings (we do our own architectural interiors:  tile, flooring, cabinetry, etc.), we will consult with them beginning early in the design process so that adjustments can be made to accommodate your selections when it is most cost effective and so that the architectural design and furnishings complement each other.   

COMMUNICATION

Office hours are 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Monday through Friday.  The office is closed on New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  

Email is typically the best way to reach me.  You can also reach me by phone during office hours, or we can schedule a virtual meeting.  

Please do not use text for project communication (although a notification that you are stuck in traffic, or something like that, is fine).

MEETINGS

I have implemented some strategies to optimize my availability to clients and minimize travel time charges.  As much as possible, I consolidate in-person meetings to a single day per week.  As a result, I may occasionally need to request that an in-person meeting be rescheduled. 

Alternatively, we can meet virtually via Skype or by phone.  

COMMITMENT

As a small firm, one project at a time receives our highest level of focus and attention.  We have chosen to stay small because we enjoy immersing ourselves in each project and really getting to know our clients. Working together is a two-way commitment, and you will need to make time to fully commit to the process.  My former clients report that 2-4 hours each week would be a minimal investment — although many invested much more than that.  

We expect a 1-2 day turnaround for responses to questions and 1-4 days for feedback on presentations.

Of course, we can work around vacations and business trips with advance notice.  (We need a break every now and then, too!).  However, if the expected response timeframes are simply out-of-reach for you, we will need to talk about that and adjust the expectations before we work together.

Sometimes, life happens and projects go on hold.  We can accommodate a one-time suspension of services for up to two weeks for an emergency situation.

Due to the financial implications of projects being suspended or abandoned, a project termination fee is charged for suspensions longer than two weeks or for terminations.  

COPYRIGHT

Our work is protected by copyright law.  This means that you may not use our designs or drawings if you are not working with us, including cases resulting from your suspension or terminations.

THE DESIGN PROCESS

The steps of the process move from larger decisions, to refinements, to details, then finally to the construction-related phases.  Each step builds upon the previous one, like building blocks.

 

Step 1 - Schematic Design

This step is the "What if..." phase.  After reviewing the restrictions that apply to your lot (setbacks, critical areas, easements, etc.), I will work within those restrictions to find answers to big questions, such as:  What location, shape, and size works best?  What options do we have for driveway and utilities locations?  Would building an addition or adding another story have the best result? Should we lift the house or dig down to make the basement taller?

Typically, my drawings are drafted with computer software during this phase.  Although they look somewhat like "blueprints," it is important to think of them ascomputerized versions of hand sketches.

Simple 3D computer-generated models will be created to help you understand the scale and shape of the proposed design concepts.  We will provide you with either two-dimensional images of key views of the model or a BIMx file which can be navigated using a free app on your desktop or mobile. 

I typically present three options at the first Schematic Design meeting.  Depending on the design constraints for the project, these options may be quite different from each other or variations on a theme.

We will meet in person to review the first round of design concepts.  This meeting typically lasts 1-1.5 hours.  After we meet, you will have time to think through the options and follow up with me to share your thoughts, questions, or comments.  Most clients send this feedback by email.  Typically, this leads into a second round of Schematic Design drawings which may be a blend of the previous concepts or may represent an entirely different design direction.

Once we have reached an overall design concept that you are excited about, you will interview and pre-select a general contractor.  Your contractor will provide a "ballpark guess" of what it would cost to build your project, but keep in mind that it is only a preliminary guess at this point.  Alternatively, you may want to request a more detailed preliminary estimate.  Some builders charge hourly for this and will apply the amount paid toward your contract for construction if they are eventually hired to build the project.  Others will ask you to sign a pre-construction services agreement which states that they will track their pre-construction hours and only charge you for them if they are not eventually hired.

Step 2 - Design Development

Once we are no longer moving rooms around, we have graduated from Schematic Design and moved into the Design Development phase.  We will begin adding another layer of decisions, such as final fixture types (pedestal sink vs. vanity cabinet), door operation (swinging vs. pocket), feature elements (open railings vs. half-height walls), etc.  

At this point, you will need to select your appliances.  You will also need to identify key pieces that you already own or will need to source (antiques, furnishings, re-used vintage doors, art work, etc.) so that they can be accommodated in the design.

Once you finalize decisions that define structural requirements, such as windows and doors (size, brand, configuration), feature elements (exposed beams, timber trusses, etc.), and systems (heating, cooling, ventilation, fire suppression, etc.), I will work with the structural engineer to coordinate these elements and details with the architectural design. 

I recommend that we consult with a landscape architect at this point to develop a cohesive plan for the indoor/outdoor features (hardscaping, planters, retaining walls, etc.).  Depending on the scope of your project, you may also need to engage the landscape architect to produce landscape drawings that would be included in the final set of construction documents.

With my help, you will select plumbing fixtures and interior finishes (tile, countertops, flooring, millwork, etc.).

I recommend that we consult with a lighting designer at this time, in the the same way as the landscape architect.  

After this phase has been completed, you will obtain an updated pricing estimate from your builder.  Keep in mind that this is still a preliminary estimate.  The price is likely to continue to move upward as more detailed information is provided.

Step 3 - Construction Documents

This phase is the most technical and time-consuming portion of the design process.  Additional drawings, including dimensioned plans, sections, and details will be created to communicate the design of the project to the builder.  Interior elevations will be drawn for areas requiring detailed information about finishes, fixtures, and millwork.

Architectural and structural drawings will be cross-checked and coordinated, permit application forms will be completed, and various other documents required for the permit application will be generated.

Depending on your project, you may need to engage additional consultants such as a civil engineer, geotechnical engineer, wildlife biologist, building envelope consultant, or arborist in order to fulfill the building permit application requirements and respond to comments or questions from your local jurisdiction.  

The final Construction Documents package will include written specifications that identify finish levels and reference industry standards for construction and a preliminary line voltage electrical plan (showing outlets, lighting, exhaust fans, smoke detectors, etc.).  

If you are including home automation, a home theater, or other low voltage systems, you will need to engage a low voltage consultant to specify and provide drawings for those.

Step 4 - Construction Contract Negotiation

Drawings and specifications will be issued to your builder who will distribute them to bidders and establish a deadline for bidding.  I will be available to answer questions from subcontractors and vendors who are preparing bids. (Typically, the builder will host an open house style event for the subcontractors that I will attend.)  To ensure consistency, I will document any clarifications and issue them to your builder for distribution.

Once your contractor has arrived at a final bid for your project, I will review the proposal and advise you of any concerns.  If necessary, we will meet with the builder to determine whether clarifications or revisions are required.  

Step 5 - Construction Administration

Before construction begins, a timeline will be established for milestone meetings with your builder.  We will also identify a standing day/time each week when we could meet at the jobsite with advance notice.  We will ask your builder to send a written list of discussion items prior to our meetings so that we can arrive prepared.

During construction, all communication between you and your builder should go through me.  Questions from your builder that are not time-sensitive will be added to the list of discussion items for our next meeting.  I will bring urgent questions to your attention promptly by email or phone.  Also, once your builder's pay requests have been submitted, I will review them and let you know if I have any questions or concerns.    

Changes inevitably happen during construction — whether they are due to unforeseen conditions, upgrades, or a new idea.  I will help design solutions when unforeseen conditions arise and facilitate changes with additional information and/or drawings, as needed.

My favorite day during construction is when we all meet to create a final list of little things that need touch-up or completion (called the “punchlist”).  This happens right before you move into your new home.  It's such a reward to see the pride and excitement in everyone's eyes, and it always reminds me why I chose to become an architect.

FEES

 

 

HOURLY RATES

Principal Architect - $165

Senior Designer - $135

 

ADDITIONAL SERVICES

Upon request, we can provide services beyond those described above.  

Our clients often request:

  • feasibility studies
  • assistance obtaining property information
  • interior design services, such as furniture layouts, selections, and procurement including antiques and made-to-order items

Please let us know how we can help you.