November 4, 2013

Meeting the Architect

Nature walk on the lot this afternoon
We interviewed a small architectural firm this morning to learn more about the costs and process of hiring comprehensive design services. This firm's portfolio includes a wide variety of projects ranging from historical adaptive reuse to all types of new construction, which fits our needs really well. We have a connection with one of the architects, Scott, and feel really good about hiring him.

At his request, prior to our meeting, we shared our Houzz ideabooks, which we continue to add to and refine, a written Program (or list and description of the spaces we want to design), and images of the original sketches we drafted mid-Summer. (We have since backed off from the literal barn translation, but the concept and floor plan still reflect our basic vision.) 

The Program list we shared included:
-House that ages gracefully
-Simplest necessary form
-High quality, durable materials that underscore comfort and luxury
-Designed for efficiency in construction methods and materials, and functionality for daily living
-Encourages intimate family interaction
-Accommodates large gatherings for entertaining
-Natural, rustic feel paired with industrial elements
-Lets the site in (outdoors can be seen and experienced from inside through the hours of the day and seasons of the year)
-Designed for outdoor living

-3 family bedrooms
-Guest bunks/area
-Shed for storage
-Workshop outbuilding
-Fenced in garden
When Scott arrived we discussed our goals and values for our future home, received some good feedback about some of the more "out there" ideas we've had, and asked a lot of questions. The most pressing and curious of which, were the costs for services and structure of payment.

We learned that the architectural design process happens in two phases: 
Phase 1: Drafting the Schematic Drawing, to include a final floor plan and elevation. This phase takes about 6 weeks, depending on how decisive and quick Andy and I can be, and is billed by the hour. Cost estimate: ~$4,500.
Phase 2: Design Development, to draft construction documents that specify all details like building materials, finishes, paint selections, etc. This phase takes about 10 weeks and is billed in monthly installments. Estimated cost $10,000-$15,000.

Somewhere in there we may have to pay a structural engineer ($3,000) to review our final plans.

We are pleased with these numbers as many firms base their fees on a percentage of construction costs, and these estimates are considerably lower than we expected.

We're still waiting on the Seller who owes us a county Certification Letter for the septic system, which is way, way, overdue. After that, we will check in with the County about progress related to abandonment of the Henrico owned land, then broach the subject with the Seller to request additional time before closing.

Next Steps: 
  1. Close on the property, and buy back the land owned by Henrico County (Eek, so many fingers crossed on this one!)
  2. Walk the property with our architect, to consider the best way to site the house
  3. Begin the first phase of the design process: Schematic Drawing


  1. Wow so interesting to hear how this works...very excited for you!

  2. Eagerly waiting to see what happens! Never knew the complexity of property buying and building from scratch!

  3. So fun to hear where you are in the process!!

  4. One thing on which I can bet is that It will be a great experience for you. Architects are fun talking to. They share their ideas and plans which is exciting in itself.


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