An Overview of Architectural Services
At Windy Hill Associates, we believe in client-centered design. We begin the process by exploring how you live, and how you would live if your home supported your lifestyle. We use a unique process of archtyping to identify what resonates as home for each member of your family. We incorporate the principles of feng shui into all of our designs.
We provide architectural services in phases: Programming, Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, Contractor Selection, and Construction Administration. The level of design work required is specific to each project based on several considerations such as the size of the home, your ability to visualize the finished project, your experience with the construction process, the level of custom interior work, the method of contracting, the contractor’s experience and the source of funds to pay for your home. Clients can choose Schematic Design only, opt for the greater detail provided in Design Development or complete the Construction Documents phase needed for most competitive bidding and financing approaches. We can discuss the options with you in detail at our first meeting. The following sections describe the design process:
Predesign Counseling and Programming
During this phase we gather information and assemble the design team. To start, we need to know details about the site. We will need a detailed site plan showing contours, driveway, boundaries, solar north arrow, building setbacks, and other pertinent features. We will do a site evaluation to familiarize ourselves with the site. We also need to understand deed restrictions and covenants. We will need copies of any relevant documents. We will review zoning regulations as they pertain to your site.
Next, we need to know exactly what you expect from your home. We will meet to discuss your wants and needs. This will be an in-depth meeting. We ordinarily like to meet at your existing residence to get a feel for your lifestyle, furniture, and artwork. We have two questionnaires which will inform us about your lifestyle and personalities. The Lifestyle Questionnaire tells us a lot about how you live. The feng shui elemental analysis tells us about your individual preferences to help us understand what aspects of the built environment resonate with you.
In addition to gathering information, we like to manage expectations. We will talk with you about your budget, the current construction market, and timing. We will discuss your attitudes about sustainable design, energy efficiency or other green building practices. There are many options for today’s consumers. It is very important for each client to decide the guiding principles and how the choices will impact their budget. Some components of environmental design increase the cost of construction, and offset the initial expense by lower operating costs. Some green materials increase costs but are worth it to achieve indoor air quality goals or support sustainable production practices. Our goal is to help you to align the options with your values.
We can provide a written report with our understanding of your lifestyle and reiteration of your priorities for the design. We will ask you to review this report and give us feedback to be sure that we are on the right track for the next phase, Schematic Design.
We will prepare a schematic design which fits the site and supports your lifestyle. This will be the big picture without specific details. The presentation will include a site plan, one or two exterior views to show character, and floor plans to show function. The most important part of this phase is your careful consideration of the scheme. Your response to this presentation will be the basis for the next phase, Design Development.
We will give you a chance to live into the scheme, and meet again to get your feedback. We will make revisions, start to develop details and begin selecting materials based on your comments. This presentation will include a site plan, all exterior elevations, selected interior elevations, floor plans and preliminary sections. The presentation can also include a scale model of the home and immediate site as an additional service.
Material selections, casework details, finishes, and color palette can begin in Design Development or Construction Documentation. Fabric selections, window treatments, area rugs and furniture selections are added services which we can also provide. We can estimate a fee for these services based on your guidance as to the extent of assistance that you desire and your budget considerations. In this phase, we begin working with consultants that you have requested such as a landscape designer, kitchen designer or lighting designer.
We prefer to involve the contractor early in the design process to get feedback on the methods and materials. We have found that they appreciate being part of the team, especially when we are going beyond the energy code requirements for thermal efficiency. The contractor can review the drawings, provide input and prepare a preliminary cost estimate based on quantities take-offs as well as methods and materials which we have identified. There will still be many unknowns which will be delineated in construction documents.
Based on your comments from Design Development and the consultants’ input, we will make final revisions to the plans and prepare working drawings to bid, permit and construct the project. Drawings will include site plan, all floor plans, all exterior elevations, selected interior elevations, details, sections, door schedule, window schedule, room finish schedule, and framing plans. Specifications will be in note format on the drawings. We will go over these plans with you and the contractor. At this point, the contractor should be able to provide an accurate cost of construction with a 10% contingency.
Contractor Selection, Cost Estimate Review and Bid Documents
We can assist you in locating, interviewing and selecting a contractor. This can be done early, during Schematic Design or Design Development, if you are hiring the contractor through a cost plus bid process. Contractor selection is usually done later in the project if you are hiring the contractor with a stipulated sum bid process. Both approaches allow for competitive bidding and market testing of prices. Cost plus allows you to hire the contractor earlier, with a guaranteed maximum price based on less developed design document, whereas stipulated sum bidding is a fixed budget based on more highly developed construction documents and it allows the general contractor to keep any money that is saved on the base construction.
We can coordinate interviews, check credit references and check performance references. We can coordinate meetings with the selected contractor to review drawings, cost estimates and allowances. We can suggest contracts for construction, and review them with you.
We can act as your representative through the construction process. We can observe construction to ensure compliance with the drawings, clarify details, review shop drawings, process change orders, process pay requisitions, and administer project close-out including punch list, warranty initiation, and final payment. Some level of construction administration is recommended for project continuity, but it is optional. It’s important for the architect to be involved at specific points in construction such as siting the home and approving the foundation. It improves the quality of the finished project to carry architectural review through materials choices to be made during construction. A good relationship between the general contractor and the owner reduces the time needed for construction administration services.
Additional Optional Services
We highly recommend having the lighting designed by a professional. Most electricians will walk you through as they start their work, and ask you where you want switches, outlets, and lights. A lighting designer will understand the scheme, and work with you to specify fixtures and placements which will compliment the architecture and your lifestyle. They will provide a lighting plan from which the electrician can work. Some are lighting designers are affiliated with suppliers and will deduct their design fees when you order fixtures.
In residential construction, mechanical systems are most often designed by the mechanical sub-contractor. A home with special construction methods may warrant review and recommendations from a building scientist, or mechanical engineer. Examples of alternative approaches to construction include carbon neutral homes, active solar homes and wind powered homes.
Landscape Design is another service we highly recommend be provided by a professional. Properly designed site features such as flower and vegetable gardens, hardscapes (walkways, patios, etc), greatly enhance the beauty and value of the home. We have seen increases in appraised value with well-designed landscaping installations because it changes the homes chosen as comparable sales.
A scale model of the home can help you to visualize the design. This can be requested during any phase, but is most helpful during Design Development.
3rd Party Certification
In order to verify the energy efficiency of the home, you may want to consider Energy Star certification. Energy Star rates the efficiency of the doors, windows, insulation, and mechanical equipment. A blower door test is done after construction to verify acceptable air infiltration rate. Appraisers may soon have a system in place to place higher value on an Energy Star home. If there is to be a ground-source heat pump HVAC system there may be a rebate available from the public utility. In order to qualify for this rebate, it is required that the home be Energy Star certified. To accomplish Energy Star certification an independent rating specialist will be retained.
A higher level of sustainable certification available from the U.S. Green Building Council is known as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). In addition to rating the energy efficiency of the building envelope and mechanical systems, it rates the sustainability of many more aspects of the project. These considerations include integrated planning with all disciplines starting with programming, durability, regional planning, site selection, open space planning, surface water management, infrastructure, community resources, landscaping, water use and re-use, energy performance, advanced framing techniques, construction waste management, ventilation, air quality, radon protection, and more. To obtain this certification a LEED provider must be involved in documentation beginning with the programming phase. Various levels of certification are available.
We will discuss these optional services with you and can perform these services on an hourly basis, or for a fixed fee.