— What questions to ask an architect? How to hire an architect? Hiring an architect in Boston, New Hampshire, Maine can be challenging, learn the basics so that your next renovation or new build will stay on track.
Q: What exactly is an Architect?
Q: Why is hiring a smaller firm like @BOTTEGAmisc beneficial for my project?
Answer: Ok, so we meet a lot of people each month and this month I spoke with two different potential clients that both asked me, what exactly is an Architect? Each surprisingly followed up to answer their own question. One stating; “is that like a builder or something?” and the other remarking, “oh, wait an Engineer, right?” I answered each of them with a similar response. An Architect is a licensed design professional that specializes in detailing and defining how a building goes together as well as the general coordination of the design team. Then I realized something, this definition or some version of it is exactly why these two (and many others) still don’t know what an Architect does. So I asked myself, how can I better answer this question? Is there a better way to use something familiar, something from another industry, because our industry is anything but familiar to those who don’t build and design everyday. So here goes: An Architect is like a Chef. The Chef creates the recipe but doesn't necessarily cook the food. A really good Chef can oversee the execution of their ideas, and can make sure that each dish is plated correctly and the final product is perfect. So the recipe for me is equivalent to my drawings, details and specifications. And the food, well, that is the actual building. So in other words, I create a set of instructions through drawings, images, details, phrases, notes and specifications all with the hopes to clearly define and communicate how my design will become a built space.
Answer: Many large firms will often start a meeting off with a Principal or two and market the skills of senior people in the organization, but once they land the contract they delegate the work to junior personnel. Don’t get us wrong, we strongly agree with the internship of rising professionals, however, just be sure you understand how much time each member of the design team will actually be spending on your project. This is for two reasons. First, you want to understand what sort of billing rate your project will be pooled from, and also (and more importantly) you want a knowledgeable team working on your project. Here at BOTTEGA miscellanea there are two of us. We do all the work. From start to finish. We are experts in architecture, space planning, construction detailing and interior design. When you hire us you get us doing the work, being held accountable, and making sure things are done to perfection.
Q: I have some ideas for a new project, where do we begin?
Answer: Each Architect might answer this question differently. Some will speak with you over the PHONE to learn more about your project. Others might have a CLIENT SURVEY, like we do. We may do things a little differently than most [but not all] design studios. We begin all of our projects with a free 30 minute phone conversation after which we send you a short document that outlines our process known as the DISCOVERY CONSULTATION. Refer to our Services section to learn more about the value that comes out of these initial meetings and some first steps you can take toward your project’s ultimate success.
Q: How much does it cost to hire an Architect?
Answer: The shortest answer that we could come up with is, “probably more than you think”. A longer answer, and specific to hiring our practice is, we first start with the DISCOVERY CONSULTATION to learn more about your goals and motivations for considering doing a project. The DISCOVERY PROCESS is a flat fee service (download the free resource for pricing). Once we go through the process together and present our conclusions, we meet with you and present our findings. For instance, is this project feasible within your budget? After this, you decide if you would like to proceed into Schematic Design, which is based on our studio hourly rate of $170 per hour (may be subject to change). Once our SD phase is complete, the project fees are based on 13% of construction costs which are broken down by phase and are invoiced as we proceed through the process via incremental billing. Once the project has a contractor signed on, we offer a Construction Administration service. This can be done either hourly, per site visit, or by a monthly rate. Some amount of CA is mandatory on all projects, however we discuss which type of coverage would best suit you and your project. The main takeaway is, our DISCOVERY PROCESS identifies your needs and because each project is unique, each will require various levels of service, care, and coverage.
Q: How long does the process take?
Answer: Each project will have a different answer, but generally speaking, the design process could be anywhere from 1-5 months for a simple design to 6-18 months [depending on the scope] for a more complex design. The more complex a project, the more coordination and time will need to be spent. Also consider that some contractors, cities/towns, regions have different labor work forces so you might expect a bit longer the more urban you get. For example, in a highly populated area with a strong economy, you might be put on a wait-list if you are seeking quality builders in your area. These are all things to consider as you gather information for your project and start to create realistic expectations.
Answer: As the cost of construction rises, the need to employ a design professional becomes more and more important. In simplest terms, an Architect brings tremendous value to most any project. Starting with organizing their Client’s ideas, maintaining dialogue between all the parties involved during the construction process, identifying consultants that are specific to the Client’s project and needs, and coordinating the many details it takes to effectively solve the Client’s project design. Architects are certainly an added cost to any project, but the return a client receives will far outweigh the expense. Unfortunately, some Clients will attempt to take on the role themselves and the project and budget suffer because of it.
Q: Why do I need to hire an Architect?
Answer: We practice architecture and interior design services all across New England. One major factor we like to emphasize is that we focus on connecting with the right projects and Clients, so ultimately we certainly go beyond New England, should the project lead us there. However, being a small practice, our niche areas are coastal and lakes regions throughout New England. If you do not live against a body of water in New England, that’s ok. We would be glad to connect and talk more about how we work and if we would be a good fit for your project.
Q: Where does BOTTEGA miscellanea practice architecture?
Answer: We are hyper-focused on custom residential. We have been practicing custom residential work throughout New England for over 19 years. We bring exceptional design and detailing to all of our projects and focus on the newest building science standards to best execute your project. Around our studio, building codes are the minimum benchmark, because we take each project as our obligation to innovate for our Clients and the building industry. All of our projects are personal to us. They end up lived in and owned by our Clients, but they are all part of our practice. We work closely with Contractors and Clients alike to execute the best possible project our Client’s budget will allow.
Q: What type of work does @BOTTEGAmisc specialize in?
Answer: Not all Clients are the same or have the same understanding [or need] of craftsmanship and quality. So with that in mind, we are going to break this down into 3 tiers that hopefully will be an easy range to understand. [Additionally, we would like to state that these numbers are for custom design and built work]. From GOOD, to BETTER, and finally BEST. Lets begin with GOOD craftsmanship and finishes. For this, start with $300-400 per square foot for new construction. This a good baseline to start. If your project is a renovation with a kitchen or bathroom, or extensive outdoor work or separate structures, this number might not hold accurate. For BETTER craftsmanship and finishes, consider $500-600 per square foot for new construction. This level might have an extended warranty by the contractor, and could include more natural materials like solid woods and stones. It could also be a good number to use for dense urban projects as well as very remote rural projects that involve special care and planning to execute. Now for the BEST craftsmanship and finishes. For the absolute best level, a good starting point would be to begin with $700-800 or even higher per square foot for new construction work. Consider this work to be of extremely high quality, often executed by renowned fine home builders using high quality and long lasting materials. They often include innovative designs, special characteristics, or rare materials. Think of that last full color magazine spread you saw and your jaw dropped, and you said, “ I want to live there”. Likely you were looking at something above the $800 per square foot range. This is clearly a very general takeoff and should be considered as an introduction to creating your project budget. Involving an Architect early certainly helps you make informed decisions and appropriately allocate your budget. For more information on how to begin your next project, head over to our FREE RESOURCES.