First Steps

I believe architecture’s role is the setting of our lives. The reason people hire me is to help them go beyond what they can imagine.. How I help my clients before they are my clients is by offering a low commitment consultation I call a needs and options review. I believe this is helpful because most people don’t know the process to get great results.

I would like to outline how I help people who are in the early stages of investigating their renovation and building options.

I ask a few general questions to understand what they want and where are in the building process. If I think I can help them I give a brief rundown on me and the needs and options review. If we are both ready to move forward we arrange to meet for the review.

My questions for them include

  • have you built before?
  • Who else needs to part of this discussion?
  • When would you like to start? and when would you like to finish?
  • Do you have a budget?
  • What is the driving need for the project?
  • What are the obstacles stopping you from moving ahead once you have a clear picture and it fits in your budget?
  • Do you have a site already? Where is it? Constraints?

But in my phone call I also want them to understand how I can help them to bring clarity and certainty to the project.

So I ask them out of ten:

  • How clear are you on exactly what you need?
  • How aware are you of all the various options your site will accommodate?
  • How confident are you that you are aware of all legal requirements?
  • How aware are you of the process you will need to have in place to get the project completed on time and on budget?
  • How confident are you that your budget will achieve your needs?
  • Will you need to phase your project?

And my last questions:

  • Is there anything else I should know?
  • Out of 100 how important is this project to you?
  • What are the consequences of not doing this renovation?

Now I know where I can help them fill in the gaps of their knowledge before they move to the design process.

There are 3 important steps before building starts: 1. The needs and options review. 2. The design process from concept design to design development, and 3. The documentation phase in which I produce documents for contracts, bidding, permits and construction.
During the building phase is the Contract Administration where I will assist them to make sure that what was designed gets built.

My options and needs review is the foundational step of the project. To do the review I visit the site, document my findings and make a report. The valuable insights gained from this initial phase can be used by me during the next phase or any other architect and will ultimately produce a better result. The get an expert opinion on the feasibility of their project, an outline detailing rooms, sizes, orientation, challenges, etc., a discussion of potential solutions in outline form, a discussion of the look and feel of a potential; scheme, and the viability of the project and ideas and budget, an outline of the requirements for building regulations, and proposal of next steps including a schedule of services and fees that I provide.

This is a process I have designed over the years to help people before they start on construction, before they get invested I the wrong solution, before they have considered all of the alternatives. This step is building a solid foundation based on research and knowledge. The foundation is the most important part of the whole house. Everything else is build, on top. It is very expensive to change the foundation once you have started to build but very easy to change if they are simply lines on a plan. I spend more time of the initial research before beginning the design phase. This step helps me help my clients avoid costly overruns later.

I want to stress that the RIGHT INFORMATION AT THE RIGHT TIME IS EVERYTHING. Highly successful projects are all about having access to information early. But when projects are rushed and short cuts are taken people do not discover all the options until the concrete is poured- literally. late discovery of real needs or options leaves them crying “If only I had known”. At some point they will discover a way to make their project better. It could be a design change, a window or door change, or a better layout of a bathroom. Sooner or later they will want to make a change. There are two times to discover you have a better option: during my needs and options review and design phase, or in the building phase. If you discover it during the design phase the changes can be made effortlessly. Discover better options or unaddressed needs late and you pay exponentially more or worse live in a house where you settled for a lesser option. We started offering this essential service because we want everyone to have a better design or a better setting for their lives which they can have by taking the time to discover their options in greater detail upfront.

I can help them get the best outcome possible because I use my extensive knowledge of hundreds of previous jobs successfully completed bringing the best ideas to their job helping them to imagine their future. I have dedicated my life to the medium of architecture. I want to share that with my clients.