At Residential Reflections we believe our most important skill is the ability to listen. We also believe in a team approach to design. The leader of the design team has to be you, the homeowner. You know how you live and how you want to live. Your job is to communicate that to the architect via words, sketches on a napkin, pictures cut out of magazines or photos of your favorite front porch down the street. The more information you provide to us, the better we can design for you. Our job is to listen to what you have told us, see what you have shown us, feel what your house needs and combine all that into a design that is right for you. This starts with listening, defining your wants and needs, communicating practical and beautiful solutions, while keeping your budget in mind, and finally, realizing your completed project.
Our design process actually begins when we have an initial meeting with a potential client. This meeting generally lasts 60 minutes and is free of charge. Usually we will meet at your home, even if you are planning a new home. We like to see the space you currently call home in order to understand what you like and dislike about it. Subsequent meetings can be held at our offices or your home.
At this initial meeting, we will discuss your aesthetic goals, spatial relationships, financial goals and schedule. We will use information to prepare a “Proposal for Design Services” for your project. Once we receive your signed contract, we proceed into Phase 1 services.
During the programming phase, we work with you to help define your needs and desires for the project. It is a time for information gathering. We listen, inquire and investigate. We try to understand your tastes, preferences and dreams. Many people clip pictures from magazines or take photos of houses they like. Some people make a list of likes and dislikes of their existing house, while others make sketches of ideas. We encourage you to take this opportunity to indulge your creative side. Again, the more information you give to us, the better we can design for you.
Phase 1: Documenting Existing Conditions
For new construction projects, documenting existing conditions entails gathering information about your property including a site plan, zoning requirements, HOA restrictions and the surrounding existing buildings.
If you are remodeling or building an addition, a thorough analysis of existing conditions is essential. The entire house must be photo-documented, measured and recorded. Even if you have original plans from when your house was built, verification is always necessary as houses are rarely built exactly to the plans. This information is used to prepare a set of existing condition drawings including floor plans and elevations. It is crucial that this work be accurate, as this is the foundation for our designs.
Phase 2: Schematic Design
Let the design begin! We prepare two to three different schematic ideas based upon your program and existing conditions. We believe that an addition should never feel like an addition. The spaces should flow seamlessly with your original house. We want your neighbors to say “what a fabulous house,” not “what a great addition!”
These ideas will be portrayed in plans, elevations and sections. They communicate the location of walls, windows, doors and built-ins, slopes of roofs and spatial relationships. This is enough information for us to create a preliminary cost estimate based on square footage, but not enough information or detail for construction. Should the schemes not fit into your budget, we will revise the scope of work and go back to the drawing board.
It is crucial that you are pleased with the overall ideas in the schematic design phase. Even if you only like the bathroom from Scheme A, the plan from Scheme B and the elevations from Scheme C, we can combine those elements to make your ideal design. It is important to keep in mind that changes at this stage are much easier to implement. Changes in the later phases – construction drawings or construction – are possible, but may be more difficult and costly.
Phase 3: Design Development
We combine the favored aspects of each design into a final schematic which becomes the basis for Design Development. This phase involves the refinement of the design. We prepare more detailed floor plans, elevations and cross sections to work out precisely how the project is to be built and what materials shall be used. We research materials that will go in and on the house, and whenever possible, work with the selected builder to ensure that selections are within budget.
Almost every decision made has an impact on the design. Likewise, every change that is made causes a ripple effect, requiring adjustments elsewhere. We communicate with you frequently during this phase to make sure each refinement meets with your approval.
Phase 4: Construction Documents
Now that a majority of the design decisions have been made, it is time to record those choices in the construction documents. These are detailed drawings and specifications which the contractor will use to both establish actual construction costs and build the project. Included in the drawings will be foundation, framing and floor plans, elevations, sections, door, window and finish schedules, details, code analysis and specifications. A site plan, energy calculations, lateral bracing calculations and drawings, and HOA or Historic Board submissions also may be required.
These drawings and specifications become part of the legal agreement with your contractor, and as such, establish his contractual obligations. Consequently, anything not contained in the documents is left to the contractor’s discretion and may potentially lead to additional charges for you. Complete documentation means there will be fewer problems and delays during construction, because most decisions have been made before construction begins. The more detailed and complete the construction documents, the more accurate the bid price.
The builders and tradesmen use the documents to supply the materials and construct the project. The local building inspectors will use these documents to issue permits and make inspections. Banks and lenders will use these documents when providing financing. As you can see, these important documents are used by all during the construction of a project. Therefore, it is to your advantage to make sure the drawings are accurate and complete.
Phase 5: Construction Observation
The final step in the process is construction. Here is where all of your decisions and dreams are realized. Normally our involvement does not stop at the completion of construction documents. We act as your representative during construction by monitoring the contractor’s work for conformance with the specifications and drawings. We will visit the site to observe the work in place. We can meet regularly on site with the client and contractor to review any issues. We are available to the contractor and subcontractors during the project to explain or address any questions that may arise during construction. After each site visit, we will prepare a report noting work in progress, our observations and recommendations.
This phase can be challenging and demanding. There are still many decisions that need to be made. Each of them has an impact on the outcome of your project. We will guide you through this process and help the project go smoothly. It is especially important in renovation projects that we provide construction observation services, as there are almost always issues that arise during construction. These difficulties usually are due to an unforeseen condition which is not apparent until demolition and construction begin. For this reason, we recommend our involvement during the construction phase to ensure that any changes do not affect the original design intent. We can ease the way by helping you make good decisions and direct you to solutions you may not have considered. The result is a house in which you are proud to live and enjoy spending quality time.
As architects and homeowners, we are very aware how important a home is to its owners. We understand what a vital role it plays in our lives as a refuge from the rest of the world. One of the most exciting aspects of our work is that we are hired to create wonderful places for your daily living. We do not take that responsibility lightly. We have developed our services to help guide you through the process as seamlessly and stress-free as possible.
We will help you identify your needs and design solutions to satisfy them. Then we develop the documents that will communicate those solutions to the contractors. At Residential Reflections, we understand that a registered architect provides more than “blueprints.” Hiring an architect will save you money by getting you what you want the first time and by helping you make decisions to stay within budget. The value of the services we provide is measured by your happiness with the final product.
We cannot emphasize enough that construction is a team effort consisting of architect, homeowner and contractor. A successful project requires a team that has mutual trust, respect for one another, and good communication.
We hope this has helped to clarify the value that our services would provide to you and your project, and that you will give us the opportunity to help you with your dreams for a custom home, addition or remodel. We look forward to working with you.
What you can expect while working with Transforming Architecture Architects:
- Honesty and Integrity
- Excitement and Enthusiasm
- Patience and Guidance
- Excellent Communication
- Superb Client Service
- Passion for your project