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10 Tips for developing a Great Architectural Design

The limits outlined below help focus a project and are fundamental to a great architectural design.

The Client/Architect Relationship

Client and Architect must be a good fit in terms of project outcome and rapport. The Client will initially select an Architect based on a recommendation from a trusted friend or colleague, the Architect’s portfolio, reviews, or having met and felt a good vibe. The Client should come to the relationship clear about their objectives and provide realistic goals and expectations. They should feel good about the professional they are hiring. Reciprocal trust on both sides is paramount to achieving the Clients’ goals.

The Architectural Program

The program is the road map to arriving at a great design. It should identify the project’s overall objective and itemize specific characteristics that contribute to the quality of the objective.

The Building Site

The site is strategic to the outcome of a project. A good site meets the goals of the Client on multiple levels. It must resonate with the Client, not always easy to articulate it should inspire a yearning. The site should carefully evaluate it in a feasibility study where all aspects, including zoning, access, environmental and geologic characteristics, are assessed and weighed against the project’s desired outcome.

The Architectural Team

Architects are among the last generalists. They conceive the overall concept, BUT they rely on a team of engineers, designers such as landscape architects and interior designers, and contractors to help elevate a concept to its full potential. Developing a good team early on saves time and money and contributes to the best outcomes.

Communication Between Client And Architect

Good communication between the Client and Architect is the basis for a good relationship. Communication amongst the team is also crucial to the success of a project. It is the Architect’s responsibility to orchestrate communication between the Client and the team.

The Jurisdiction and Building Codes

Nothing gets built today without a building permit. It is fundamental to understand what is allowed and what isn’t. A building permit encompasses land use, civil and environmental engineering, life safety, and energy requirements. The Architect’s job is to understand the nuances of the codes and what limits they imply. They should, however, not be the defining factor of a great architectural design.

The Money Spent On The Project

A Client must have realistic expectations of their project’s cost. This includes hard and soft costs. Hard costs are the actual costs of construction. These costs include mobilizing the site to apply the last coat of paint. Soft costs are the services and fees required to design, permit, and build the project. They include professional fees, permit fees, finance fees, etc. Soft costs vary based on location and type of project but tend to be reasonably stable. Construction costs are inconsistent and are impacted by many things but are ultimately the purview of the General Contractor. The Architect does not control hard costs but should know what is more or less expensive. The project budget is a critical limit the Architect uses when developing a design.

The Architectural Trends

Trends driving design and construction at a given time are dictated by many factors: Aesthetics; Innovation in construction techniques; Cultural shifts; Climate change and reducing environmental impacts, and so on. Trends evolve, and good architects recognize trending ideas that are solid and have staying power versus those that are fads.

The Architectural Work

A superb architectural design is, as they say, 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. Good architecture takes hard work and time. It is not born in a moment of feverish passion but needs time to simmer and coalesce.

The Test of Time

A genuinely great architectural design remains relevant over time. If you are ready to get started on your next big project, contact Ectypos today!

3 Tips For Hiring An Architect For Your Custom Home

In this article, we will give a few tips to architecture clients on picking an architecture firm and dealing with architects. All right. So the first rule is to choose an architect based on their work, not based on proximity. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because you know somebody or they’re the family friend or your cousin, or she goes to your church, that they’re going to be able to be your architect. Architecture is such a broad field.

There Are Many Types Of Buildings

First of all, there are many different types of buildings. Whether you’re talking about building a custom home or you’re talking about creating something for your business. There’s the expertise somebody might have in designing a home that they won’t have in designing a school or a hospital. Just because you have somebody who’s a friend and maybe plans hotels or hospitals, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can design your house or switch from doing houses to doing your place of business.

It would help if you considered their style as well. There’s a technique and a craft that architects develop over time. If you’re going to pick somebody who does a lot of modern work, then having them do traditional details is not an easy change. Often, it’s hard to get traditional architects to make a house that looks modern.

Quality Is More Important Than Price

Benjamin Franklin said, “The bitterness of low quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” There’s a large window within the process of architecture in which you, the client, may begin to become nervous about the amount of money being spent on a building. I think that this quote is essential to remember. It’s true not only for architecture but really for just about anything.

My third piece of advice for architecture clients dealing with architects is to be as transparent as you can with yourself about what you want. When you know precisely what you want, you also need to be clear with your architect about that idea. If, for example, you find an image of something that you think is cool. You might explain to your architect that you want something designed like what is in the picture. It’s a good idea to take that further and try to identify the thing about the image you like. The more specific you can be when describing what you want, the better your architect will design it. As long as you can be that clear about what you want out of the building, that will make the process a lot smoother.

Come Up With A List Of What You Want

It’s a good idea to come up with a list. You can make a list of what you want out of the design and make it very long. Put in the list every single thing you think you want. Maybe you can’t thread the needle through all of those and hit all of them, but chances are, you’re going to be able to hit a lot of them. So you have to be able, to be honest with yourself about it. It would help if you recognized the fact that you do have a say in the design. Your design is something that is being created to fit your needs. For that reason, you have to be vocal about what your needs are. And so to do that, you have to be in touch with what your needs are.

What To Remember When Hiring An Architect

In the design process and the construction process, there are many people involved. When you consider everything from doing the survey of your site where their building will be built, designing it, coming up with concepts, developing construction documents, and then going into construction, it is a long process that involves a lot of people.

Communicate Your Budget

When you are analyzing your commercial construction project and determining a budget, it is essential to communicate that budget to your architect. Your architect will guide you through the whole process and then ultimately take the drawings they produce out to gather bids when the time arrives. The method of building a custom home requires a professional to guide you.

A residential architect has that kind of training that will walk you successfully through the entire process. There are so many steps that many homeowners don’t think about. Homeowners need to think about getting the funding for their project, or gathering building permits, and ensuring that the site has had proper testing. Testing is critical for your structure to come together correctly. Testing includes having a soils report and a technical report to confirm your soil’s not contaminated.

Get The Right Team

There’s such a long process. It’s essential to have the right team on your side to guide you through the entire process. That is probably the most critical thing to take away.

There are many pieces of advice that we could recommend in considering hiring an architect. There’re so many good architects out there. In a nutshell, the essential part to me is understanding that there needs to be a relationship. You have to be able to get along with that architect. That design professional is going to guide you and spend a lot of time with you. If you don’t have that trust, it’s going to be a nightmare. You have to have that trust.

A Little Patience Goes A Long Way

On top of that, there needs to be mutual patience. It’s a complicated process with many little details. It’s crucial that the architect can be patient with the homeowner and that the homeowner can be patient with the architect.

The design is the inception of the project and should include a robust set of drawings. If those drawings are not completed correctly, the whole project will suffer. So you do have to have a good relationship. The relationship is paramount.

Get The Right Credentials

Understand that your architect has the qualifications or credentials to provide you with what you need. If you address that part, the whole process will go more smoothly. Architects work with so many contractors, and in many ways, the design profession in the construction profession is derived from different backgrounds. The training is entirely different. The education both receive is unique. The culture at the job site versus the design studio is wildly different. For these reasons, a good architect ends up spending a lot of time with the client and the contractors during construction.

A good architect should be able to identify good and bad contractors. It is appropriate to ask an architect to either make a recommendation or give you an opinion on a particular contractor that you may be considering. Your architect should have a wealth of knowledge based on his experience on who the good contractors are out there.

Tips For Hiring An Architect For Real Estate Investors

The difference between being a rehabber and being a real estate developer is the difference between making a couple bucks here and there and having a guaranteed income for life. Whether your next project is a weekend project, maybe a new bathroom, or updating a kitchen or a multilevel new construction, commercial real estate development project. One of the first things you’ve got to know when you’re working with an architect is that your contract with the architect is every bit as important and distinct as your contract to buy the property itself. You’ve got to give it the same level of attention.

What Do You Expect From Your Architect?

First consideration is what exactly do you want from your Seattle architect? There are a number of different architectural drawings that you can get. It’s not just one architectural drawing set. The first type of architectural drawings are called existing conditions drawings. That’s nothing more than a drawing of what is existing at the property. This may include where the walls are and what the measurements are. The next set of drawings are called schematic drawings. These are drawings for the architect. It’s an idea of what the final project will be like. The schematic drawings will turn into the final residential architectural drawings. That has to do with where the stairs are, where the walls are, the height of the ceiling, and more. You’ll have the floor plans, which is a 2d top-down view. You’ll have elevation drawings also, which is a side view.

The architect may also coordinate with an engineer to give you MEP drawings. MEP stands for mechanical electrical and plumbing. Depending on the scope of your repairs, you might need MEP drawings. Also, you have structural drawings. That’s going to come from a structural engineer. The structural drawings will be necessary when you’re changing ceiling heights and dealing with bowed walls and other structural issues. The final type of drawings you’ll have are your construction and permit set. It’s the set that you can take to the city or county and get your permit stamps. Your permit set is going to include your architectural drawings, your MEP drawings, and your structural drawings.

What Are You Negotiating With Your Architect?

When you’re negotiating with your architect, you should to know what exactly it is you’re negotiating for. Are you negotiating for a set that you can take to the municipality and get your stamp? In your contract, be sure your architect is going to deliver a permit set of drawings. Whether the MEP and structural drawings are going to be part of that contract, or separate, that’s up to you. When things are planned, you’re going to save money this way.

Another thing to consider of course, is the bottom line. What is the total price? Is it a flat fee or are there some contingencies, like mileage from the architect driving to your site? You need to know what is a bottom line price. If it costs within that flat number, then at least I know what my number is. Can you meet with the architect freely as needed? A lot of times when you’re doing architectural plans, you go back and forth. You might have an idea. The architect has an idea, things are getting tweaked and changed.

Who Will Own The Final Drawings?

Who will own the final drawings? It’s a good idea to ensure you have ownership and freedom to use your drawings. That means if you go to use those drawings for another project, for marketing purposes, leasing purposes, resale, your able to do that. This is an important thing to negotiate in your contract with your architect.

When are the drawings final? Is it when the architect has done round one or two or three or four? I would recommend in your contract with your architect, to determine when the drawings are finalized so there’s no surprises. You need to be happy, and you should be able to know how much revision and change you should be able to ask for.

Get A Few References

When you’re negotiating your contract with your architect, always in a new relationship, make sure to get a couple of references, I’d say two or three or four, call those references, and learn about their experience working with this person. If possible, visit the architects previous project and take a look. Last thing, how is payment going to be handled? The last thing you want to do is pay money and then receive less than you expected, whether it’s an architect or a contractor. So there you have it, a few tips about how to work with your architect.

Five Questions To Ask Before Hiring An Architect

If you are building a custom home, you’ll have many questions for your Seattle architecture designer? How do you know if the architects and designers you’re interviewing can educate and guide you through the entire building process? It would help if you asked about their specific design process. While there are industry standards, each professional or firm will approach things slightly differently when it comes to design and drawing preparation. These are the top five questions you should ask your architect.

What Is The Design Process Like?

Are the design team’s initial studies all hand-drawn sketches, or did they get into 3d modeling early in the process? How do they collect and incorporate the images that you might’ve pulled from magazines or online websites? What drawings or deliverables do they provide throughout the process? Most importantly, how do they involve you in the design process? Is it all over the phone or email? Is there weekly or monthly meetings in their office? Are there even more frequent meetings online via Skype or Zoom?

What Are Their Relationships With Contractors?

You’ll want to ask about their relationships with local contractors. How do they typically work with these contractors? Do they bring them on early in the process? Do they only work with select contractors, or do they wait till further on down the line? If it is further along in the process, you’re into detailed documents and then begin a more traditional bid process with multiple contractors that they may or may not have worked with before. If they have specific contractors that they like to recommend and work with, that’s a great thing to know.

How Do They Evaluate Your Budget?

You’ll want to ask about their process for evaluating your budgets. Asking “Is our budget realistic?” is an essential one to answer early on in the process. Is your budget review something that happens in-house, or do they farm it out to an outside estimator, or do they bring in a contractor early in the process to evaluate whether you’re on track to get your project done?

How Will You Select Your Materials And Fixtures?

Are they comfortable in going through a complete material and fixture selection process with you? Or if it’s a residential architect that may not have an in-house interior designer, do they have a consultant they like to work with that can help? In landscape design, are they willing to visit and stone yards with you to pick out materials? Or is that something that they would lean on the chosen landscape contractor to help with?

Can They Participate During Construction?

Finally, and I would say most critically, how willing and able are they to participate in the construction process? A good number of commercial architecture firms have construction administration built-in as part of their contract. If and when changes need to be made, you and the contractor could probably work out a solution in a renovation case. Projects often require changes due to materials’ unavailability or when your contractor finds surprises behind the walls. Your architect or designer should be involved to make the right changes to make sure that you get suitable spaces for your family.

You’re relying on your team members for accurate answers. Your architects, landscape architects, interior designer, contractor, landscapers, electricians should all be working as a team after all. This is a significant investment, probably the largest one of your life. When you’re informed about the costs, schedule, implications, and installation constraints of design choices, you’ll ultimately be able to make better choices with your team. This keeps your project process moving along and will keep your budget and your sanity in check. Those are our top five questions to ask a potential architect or designer on your next construction project. It’s essential to see if they’re the right ones to guide you through the entire building process.

Tips For Hiring An Architect For Your Custom Home

Nothing is more exciting than building your own home, but you’ve got to have the right team at the beginning. The architect influences the design and function of your home. There isn’t much that will affect the success of your project more than the right architect. Your architect also can help you with the financial cost involved in construction, as well as the building itself. Your goal is to hire the right architect for you and your project. Use these points to help you analyze the personality design strategy and communication skills of your candidates.

Architecture Is Referral Based

Like many other fields, the architecture runs on referrals. Ask your friends, ask your family for referrals. If you see a particular home in your neighborhood that you like, knock on the door and find out who did it. And once you find this architect, look at their other previous work. Get a feel for what it is that they do. Does their work blend in the neighborhood, or is it about standing out? Which of those works for you? Start a conversation, and make an appointment. Get a consultation before you begin. Meeting face-to-face is essential to help you decide if your personalities match and if your communication styles will match.

The most significant success of an architect and the biggest obstacle is communication. What are their communication skills? This skill is key to the process. Find out how their process works, and will their process work for you? Part of this also is your responsibility to communicate to the architect. Communicate what it is that you’re after so that they can respond appropriately. Maybe what you want is not what they do. It will be vital for you to have some notes and perhaps some images of what you like. Once you determine that their process works and want their portfolio, get some references and check them out. Again, you have to find the right person for you and your project.

What Is Their Signature Style?

Could you find out about their signature style? What is it? And do you want it? Most architects can alter their style to suit most projects. Indeed, green building, land use planning, and sustainable building apply to all projects but find out what kind they like working in. Find out if that style suits you. It may not be the smartest thing to hire an architect that wants modern design or modern architecture or ultra-cool design for your traditional home if that’s what you’re after.

Most architecture firms are not just one-person firms. The person that you meet that you close the deal with may not be your project architect. Ask to meet the person who will be on your project. You want to communicate to the person you’ll be talking to the most and share with the most. So you want to make sure that your style also mixes or also matches with your project architect. Unless, of course, it’s a one-person firm, which in that case, that will be the person that you deal with.

Don’t Forget 3d Modeling

It’s important to know what you’re getting. 3d modeling is critical, whether it’s software or a model that you can hold in your hands. You must be able to see what you’re getting and what your architect has designed. Not everyone can read plans and elevations, and sections. If you don’t understand it, or if you don’t know for sure that you think you do, if you can’t visualize it, ask for more information. Most architects can do 3d modeling on the computer, and you can walk around the building.

Most experienced architects have a list of contractors that they like to work with. Your architect will recommend to you a contractor based on your project or two or three. It’s great to get bids. Those drawings have to be more detailed to get a good apples-to-apples comparison if you can afford those kinds of pictures. You can also hire a general contractor by the hour during the design process to provide cost estimating. And that’s helpful so that you can make sure that you stay within budget.

Good Design is a Good Return on Investment

At Ectypos Architecture, we design for our clients’ unique needs and desires. More often than not, the singularity of a design for a person, couple or family also translates into a great return on investment. For the most part, projects we have designed remain with the people they were intended for. But when they have been sold due to changing lifestyles, moving to sunnier climes or downsizing to travel more for instance, our clients have realized a significant return on their economic investment. The houses have been purchased by new owners, not for the land as a tear-down, but because they are quintessentially livable. They contribute to an improved quality of life for the purchaser and an economic gain for the seller.

There are many factors that go into the resale value of a home: location, market, age, condition and neighborhood are the most common ones that come to mind. Architectural design, however, is the unsung hero of the puzzle. The distinct qualities that you prioritized in the design and construction of your home are the same things that will draw buyers later. The architectural quality will be the deciding factor for most people. When a family finds a house they love because of the design, when they envision themselves in the space of their dreams, they will move heaven and earth to be the next owners of that home.

When people talk about “re-sale value” they often mean lowering their expectations to meet broad market demand. Good architectural design, though, does not cater to the lowest common denominator. On the contrary, good architecture meets and exceeds needs and desires AND is a good return on investment.

The Necessity of the Live/Work Space

The pandemic has brought about a new, yet not so new, phenomenon – working from home. At Ectypos Architecture, we believe functional working space in the home is essential. The shared corporate office space may not entirely be a thing of the past, but people (and the corporations who employ them) are discovering that they can work from without compromising their productivity or the quality of their output. The benefits are immense such as the time and money saved not commuting or leasing oversized office space. Hell with Zoom we only need to be decently dressed from the waist up and make sure the background is moderately respectable.

Live/Work space offers greater flexibility and use of one’s home…if designed properly. In nearly all our projects, clients request a dedicated home office or work area. This is not the left-over bedroom or the garage that no longer parks the car. It is a space that is flexible enough for changing work requirements, allows for easy technological upgrades, has storage, can be private, but also host meetings. Depending on the type of work, means and tastes, it need not necessarily be large. Sometimes the space is designed with a dual intention: as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) when not needed as an office; or perhaps converts to a guest room for the occasional out of town visitor.

Live/Work spaces are not new but they are being rediscovered as a vital need in dwelling. They add personal and economic value to any home and may be the new urban phenomenon that changes the way we inhabit our cities. Instead of silo-izing our communities with residential zones versus office zones, we can live where we work work and work where we play. We can wholly inhabit these spaces rather “9-5” them. We can be present for our families and friends in a different way and on a different schedule. This pandemic is changing the way we, as a society, interact and live and some of it is really positive.