Custom Residential: Project Definition Service/Consulting
Are you contemplating your next moves, and unsure where to start? Are you trying to figure out who you even need to talk to – contractor, architect, realtor, lawyer, your friend who did a renovation last year? Are you overwhelmed by the variables and factors, and need some help getting to some decisions?
Knowing what to do when considering a renovation, home purchase, new build, or some combination of the above is…really tough. Google and HGTV are fun, but not specifically helpful to you and your situation, and there are so many terms, concepts, legalities, and realities that it’s hard to navigate much less make any decisions.
This unique, stand-alone service means you don’t have to commit to a full design project, to us as an Architect, or even to doing a project at all!
As an Architect, former general contractor, property investor, and home owner myself, I have been in the trenches with clients for the last 15 years grappling with these very questions. I love helping people strategize around their hopes and dreams for how they live, how they can align those hopes and dreams with the realities of their current or future home.Marilyn
We get it. We’ve talked to thousands of people over the years, and we recognized a need for a service that helps people figure out what they need, helps them navigate the somewhat daunting learning curve of the design and construction industry. If you have any of the following questions, we can help!
- Should I stay, renovate, move, build new?
- Do I need an Architect? What does an Architect do?
- Do I need a General Contractor? What does a General Contractor do?
- How do I know what the project might cost? How do I set a budget?
- How long do construction projects take?
- Can I, or should I, do my project in phases/stages?
- What are some ways I can save money in a construction project?
- What is building code? What is zoning? How will these affect my project?
- What is possible at my current house – can I add on?
- How do I find an Architect or Contractor? How do I choose one?
- What are the phases of a project?
- What if I already know what I want, do I need an Architect or designer?
- What permits do I need?
- Anything related to design, construction, building, etc!
Consider how much you’ve spent on purchasing your home, and how much you’re contemplating spending on a renovation – our consulting service is a drop in the bucket. Feel more confident in making decisions about which direction to take your project, and get some peace of mind that you’re taking smart steps with your biggest investment!
We hope you’ll let us help you! Contact us to get started >>>
Custom Residential: Full Architectural Services + Interior Design
Full Architectural Services means we’re with you and your project from the earliest moments of design and visioning all the way through construction. We don’t do drawings only, or leave interior design to others, or disappear once construction starts. After many years of experience, this has proven to be the best way to deliver a complete, quality project for our residential renovation and new build clients. If this isn’t the right fit for you, that’s fine, we understand – but we are committed to offering the best bang for our clients’ buck, and we believe this is the way to do it. Our clients are busy people who don’t have time, or expertise, to do what we do, and we’re happy to work as hard as we do to make the process as smooth as possible for our clients!
We break the project down into phases:
- Existing Conditions: We measure out the existing space, and create digital drawings [2D and sometimes 3D], mapping out everything we can see—including electrical, HVAC, and plumbing locations, structure, windows, doors, fixtures, etc. We do this ourselves, to learn about the building and get our heads into the project; not everyone does, but it’s integral to our process, and cuts down on surprises later.
- Schematic Design: We work through several iterations of the project, figuring out the layout of all spaces, including kitchens and bathrooms, and create a set of schematic drawings that are detailed enough to get some “ballpark” pricing from contractors.
- Bid Coordination: We provide a walkthrough for contractors to see the space and ask us questions, and then we help you review the bids that contractors submit. Our prior experience in contracting and as construction estimators really help here!
- Construction Documents and Interior Design: Now that we know the basic layout of the project and we have assurance that we’re in your budget ballpark, we create in-depth construction documents [plans, sections, interior and exterior elevations, electrical/HVAC plans, fixture schedules, etc] which also include all fixture and finish selections—everything from paint colors, kitchen cabinets, tile, grout, sinks, faucets, floor materials, and everything in between! We’ll even help you with furniture selections and arranging your new space. These drawings are called the “construction set”, and they are also what we’ll use to apply for building permits, zoning variances if needed, and the like. Depending on the size and type of project, engineers may be engaged to help with structure, mechanical, plumbing, facade, etc.; generally, residential projects don’t require much engineering, while commercial and industrial projects do require an engineering team.
- Construction Administration: During construction, we’re there through every phase, from demo through finishes. We attend meetings with the contractor, answer questions that come up along the way, and deal with all the surprises that come up. We also review the contractor’s invoices, suggest substitutions for materials and fixtures if needed, and help resolve all issues that come up during construction. Contractor calls you saying the tile we chose is suddenly not available and they need a new selection right now? We’re on it. Contractor opens a wall and discovers a bunch of pipes that can’t be moved, and the design needs to change, but the cabinets have already been ordered? Been there, done that – we’ve got it! At the end of the project, we prepare a punchlist of items for the contractor to correct before they receive their final payment. In short, we’re your agent onsite, answering 95% of the questions that come up day-to-day, while only bringing you the ones we know you’ll want to weigh in on. And then, the building is yours!
More questions? Check out our FAQ page >>>
Looking for some help with your floorplans, either for your personal residence or your multifamily development? Even if you have an Architect, sometimes you just need a second opinion. Marilyn has been drawing floorplans since she was about seven years old, when she’d get one of those floorplan magazines from the grocery store, white out all the walls, and redraw them where she thought they should be. Now 18 years later, with experience as a contractor and architect on a wide variety of projects, she can spot the issues in a floorplan in no time, and come up with creative and practical ideas to make them better, often right there on the spot.
Imagine if you could make half of your 1 bedroom apartments into 1 beds + den? Or if you could find space for a half bath in your 2 bed/2bath units? And what if it could be done with no additional square footage added, with clever, practical, and actionable moves that consider structure, MEP, existing layout, and code? We can help you unlock potential in your square footage and your units, especially those awkward units that don’t quite work yet…
We have two primary ways we engage in consulting for floorplans:
- 1 hour Zoom call, which involves live sketching, looking at as many units as we can, and you asking me whatever questions you’d like. We can workshop a single unit, or look at several; we can address a specific question you have or discuss general things related to floorplans and how to balance the conversations you’re having with your architect, engineers, and other consultants. This is often enough to get folks moving in a good direction, using the principles we discussed to go back to their team with clear ideas and a list of changes and strategies they’d like to deploy through the building.
- Consulting package. We can start with this right away, or move to this after our one hour call. This can be tailored to your needs, but generally includes a longer collaborative sketching session or two via Zoom, some sketches from Marilyn, and the opportunity to follow up throughout the design phases of the project. These packages start around $5000 and are based on number of units and of course, the scope of our work.
What is a service like this worth? Well, what what is the value of being able to charge more per unit because we were able to find room for a den without increasing construction costs? Or we were able to find an extra unit per floor, increasing your unit count? Or we were able to suggest a structural alignment that you could take back to your engineer, or an MEP adjacency that saved on construction costs? Value is hidden in plain sight, and we geek out on finding it!
Marilyn regularly demonstrates this ability on Twitter, where she’s a regular at posting floorplan corrections, advice, and rules of thumb – and lots of quick sketches!
Ready to get started? Drop us a line >>>
NOTE: These consulting services are NOT architectural services. We do that too, but only in the states we’re licensed to practice in. Architecture practice law is pretty strict, so we need to be clear on that. What we offer here is consulting, suggestions, and sketches for our clients. Should a consulting relationship develop into working more formally together and/or our providing architectural services, we’ll make sure all the proper paperwork is in order! We are also not here to steal work from other Architects. We’re here as a sounding board and a fresh and experienced second set of eyes.
Multifamily Residential/Mixed Use: Architectural Services
We work with developers on all aspects of projects, including feasibility studies, project definition, and test fits; schematic design, permitting, zoning, and other regulatory processes; and full architectural/interior design services through construction documents and construction administration. We understand developers’ need to balance a beautiful, marketable project with community support with costs, efficiencies, and sensible approaches. We nerd out on floorplans, we are deeply familiar with the initial drivers of feasibility like egress, parking, net-to-gross, and zoning. We’ve regularly teamed up with other firms like BOS|UA, StudioDRAW, and Joy Street Design to take on larger projects, or functioned as utility players for larger firms like ISA to lend a hand on large projects.
We’ve done many feasibility studies that we can’t show on our website, we’ve got our own projects in the works, and we’re delighted to work with developers who share our passion for great housing that has a positive impact on the urban environment.
We’ve also got established relationships with the consultants needed to make complex projects work – structural, civil, MEP/FP engineers, landscape architects, lighting designers, envelope consultants, code consultants, etc.
Want to see more? Check out our multifamily projects here >>>
And here are some developers sharing thoughts on working with us >>>
Our commercial and industrial clients range from brewery and distillery projects to unique education spaces [a circus school, and outdoor school] to cannabis dispensaries to more speculative projects like a drone delivery facility or a vertical boat storage facility. Leading with equal parts creativity and pragmatism, we’re able to help clients think through not only their projects, but also their unique production needs – can’t shut down the rest of the brewery while we’re working on expanding it!
Our services for our commercial range from consulting to project feasibility to full services [including engineer coordination].
With our established relationships with the consultants needed to make complex projects work – structural, civil, MEP/FP engineers, landscape architects, lighting designers, envelope consultants, code consultants, etc -we’re able to help our clients figure out the right way to do their projects, balancing efficiency, cost, and creativity.
We fit best with commercial/industrial clients that, like us, are passionate small businesses or organizations that are dedicated to their communities and to creating great products and spaces. We know firsthand what it’s like to be small business operators, so we know how hard it can be to juggle everything – and we love nothing better than supporting our commercial and industrial clients in making their businesses better, more sustainable, and more aligned with their vision.
Not sure what your next steps are, if you need an Architect, or how we could help? Just reach out. Even if we aren’t the right fit for you, we’re happy to chat and help you figure out your next steps!
Want to see more? Check out our commercial/industrial projects here >>>
Consulting, Education, Speaking
We are available for a wide variety of consulting related to the built environment, in addition to our stand-alone Residential Project Definition Service listed above. Interested in getting our brains working with you on your project? Just reach out!
Marilyn is also available for education and speaking engagements; an adjunct professor since 2010, and a spirited, passionate, and engaging speaker, Marilyn is a regular guest lecturer, speaker, and podcast guest. To hear more of Marilyn’s voice, check out her Twitter feed, and also our press page.