Custom Residential: Consulting Services

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!

One of the unanticipated benefits of having worked with Marilyn is that she really helped us to define what our overall values and priorities are in relation to living and being home. Marilyn got us to consider deeper questions than ever anticipated and it was always a joy to follow her design process. Marilyn is wonderfully knowledgeable, thorough and organized and no stone gets left unturned when it comes to the options she presented. She is full of enthusiasm and expertise and my husband and I could not have been more pleased with the work she did for us. I feel like Marilyn joined our family in meaningful ways.

Lisa and Ian

Homeowners, Consulting Clients

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, and/or provides a resource for questions and advice along the way. 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?
  • I have “plans” from a builder, a plan service, or another Architect – can I get a second opinion?
  • 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!

This is not a sales call…this is about helping you strategize about getting the best version of your project for you and your family, goals, dreams…and of course, with a healthy dose of practicality!

If you’ve already got plans, we’re also happy to provide a “second set of eyes” – most people who renovate their homes or build new *don’t* work with an Architect, and that’s ok! We’re here to provide thoughts, guidance, and ideas to help you align your vision with the realities of the project and your goals.

No matter what, we’re excited to help you get the best version of your project – whether we talk for an hour, or whether we’re with you every step of the way!

Working with Marilyn is a dream. Her visit to our home was one of the most illuminating conversations my wife and I have ever had when it comes to how we think about our home and our strategy for investing in improvements over time and within our budget. Marilyn is patient and wise and brings an extremely high level of construction, real estate, and architectural knowledge. She’s able to envision design opportunities that we, after living in our space for years, could not. She asks questions we wouldn’t know to ask ourselves and she truly listens. She’s a fantastic design partner and on top of all this, is one of the kindest people I know.

Caleb Dean

Homeowner, Consulting Client

We have two introductory consulting packages for homeowners:

25 Minute Quick Take

Let’s have a quick Zoom chat about whatever is on your mind – a specific problem you’re trying to solve, some questions you have from that big list above – bring whatever you have, and let’s talk!

90 Minute Deeper Dive with Worksheets + Follow-up

Ready for a more in-depth Zoom session, where we sketch over your plans, go deeper into all your questions, strategize your next steps, and get you going in a productive direction? Let’s talk!

With this package, you’ll also get Marilyn’s 32 page set of worksheets included free, covering everything from visioning to budgeting to interviewing contractors and architects to managing a project.

And, you’ll get a 15 minute check in via Zoom with Marilyn a few weeks after your initial meeting, to see how you’re doing and answer other questions that have come up in the meantime!

[Note: We also do these sessions in person, in the Boston area, the Lancaster/Philadelphia area, and beyond. Contact us for more information if you’re interested!]

Or…work at your own pace, with our Project Planning Workbook

30+ pages of actionable worksheets to help you get your new home or renovation project going, and running smoothly!

Developed over Marilyn’s years of experience as both a general contractor and architect, as well as investment property owner and with a major renovation of her own home recently completed, these worksheets will help you cut through the hours of Googling and circular conversations to some action!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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, or get in touch:

Consulting for Developers, Business Owners, and Property Owners

Want to learn more about how we can help you find value hidden in plain sight?

Visit our consulting page >>>

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 in the Boston area to take on larger projects, or functioned as utility players for larger firms like ISA and SgRA in Philadelphia 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.

Marilyn is currently licensed to practice Architecture in MA, PA, and ME; she holds an NCARB certificate which expedites reciprocal licensure in other states.

Want to see more? Check out our multifamily projects, or contact us:

Commercial / Industrial

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, or contact us:

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 and Developer Consulting Services listed above. Interested in getting our brains working with you on your project? Just reach out, or visit our dedicated consulting page.

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.