FAQ

  1. what is the difference between an architect and a designer?
  2. how much does it cost to build per square foot?
  3. how long does the design process take?
  4. how much does it cost to hire an architect?
  5. why should i hire an architect?
  6. i’ve  heard an architect’s fee is typically based on a percentage of the cost of construction. does that mean if, during construction, the cost of construction goes up, the architect’s fee also goes up?
  7. so, your fee is based upon a fixed fee? how does that work?
  8. how long will construction take?
  9. can you help us plan a budget for our project?
  10. I’ve heard of the term “cost of construction” and “project budget”. what is the difference between the two?
  11. is it possible to add a second story to our house? can we live there during construction?
  12. we just found out we’re newly pregnant. we’d like to add a second story to our home and have it completed before the new baby arrives. is this possible?
  13. we would like to add a second story to our house and have a budget of $250,000. Is that possible?
  14. my neighbor just down the street built a new house for $200 per square foot. can you design a house for us for $200 a square foot.
  15. my brother-in-law is a contractor and we just need a set of plans to get a permit. he said we don’t need an architect to be involved during construction because he can take care of it all. can you provide the plans for us?
  16. we would like to build green but think it’s going to be a lot more expensive. can you help us monitor the budget?
  17. we would like to do something to our house but we’re not sure what. can you help us decide?

Answers

  1. what is the difference between an architect and a designer?
    an architect is someone who is licensed by the california architects board to practice architecture in the state of california. in order to become licensed, an architect must complete a rigorous course of study at an accredited architecture school as well as work several years under a licensed architect.  an architect is not only trained in design, scale, and spatial relationships, but has a working knowledge of structural considerations as well as a knowledge of the systems found in today’s home, such as heating and ventilation, plumbing, and electrical. an architect is also well-versed with local building codes and the permitting process and knows how to navigate the city process. a designer is a generic term that can be applied to an interior designer, landscape designer, graphic designer, or web designer to name a few. designers, in general, do not possess a license to practice in their field.  whether you hire an architect or designer really depends on the needs and requirements of your project.
  2. how much does it cost to build per square foot?
    there is not a simple answer to this question. it depends on the site, the existing conditions, and scope of work of the project. in the los angeles area, a range would be between $250 and $750 per square foot depending on the complexity of the project. a “normal project” (if there is such a thing) might fit into the $250 – $400 range. we are speaking about the “cost of construction here” (see question #10).
  3. how long does the design process take?
    it depends on the needs of the client and how quickly a client can make decisions. in general, the design process might take 3 to 6 months before drawings are ready to be submitted to the local building department. smaller projects may take less time, larger projects will take longer.
  4. how much does it cost to hire an architect?
    architects in the los angeles area typically charge between 10% and 15% of the cost of construction.
  5. why should i hire an architect?
    bobvilla.com gives a great explanation of why you should hire an architect for your home remodelling project, click on the following link  http://www.bobvila.com/
  6. i’ve heard an architect’s fee is typically based on a percentage of the cost of construction? does that mean if, during the construction, the cost of construction goes up, the architect’s fee also goes up?
    yes. many architect’s fee structure is based upon this method of compensation and it is a very common method in the industry. we used to utilize this method but we have recently adopted using a fixed fee compensation method instead.
  7. so, your fee is based upon a fixed fee? how does that work?
    yes, our method of compensation is based upon a fixed fee. we feel our clients are more comfortable knowing  exactly what their architectural fee will be from the beginning and that it won’t be going up (unless the scope of work changes). we base our fee on a percentage of an agreed upon construction budget that we develop with the client early in the process. for more information about our services, please click scope of basic services.
  8. how long will construction take?
    for a major remodel/new construction, including a second story addition, the construction process may take 6 – 12 months to complete. a more complex project will take longer.
  9. can you help us plan a budget for our project?
    we have plenty of experience working with actual construction numbers and deal with contractors frequently to keep abreast of current prices in the marketplace. we are able to put together a working budget during the design process.
  10. I’ve heard of the term “cost of construction” and “project budget”. what is the difference between the two?
    it’s extremely important to realize the distinction of these terms. “cost of construction” or as we like to refer to it, the construction budget, is concerned with the actual cost paid to the general contractor for labor, materials, overhead, and profit, i.e. the cost to physically construct the project. “project budget” is concerned with the actual cost of the entire project, including the total cost of construction, architectural fees, structural engineering fees, city plan check and permit fees, and any other fees related to a project. the project budget is typically 15% to 20% above the construction budget.
  11. is it possible to add a second story to our house? can we live there during construction?
    it is very likely you would be able to add a second story to your home. we have a lot of experience in designing second stories and the nuances that must be considered. whether you would be able to live there during construction depends on several factors, but in general, the answer would be no. much of the first floor will be affected/disturbed by adding the second floor, including adding additional structural supports in the walls and building a new stair (we have to get up there, right?). in general, the whole house becomes a big construction site.
  12. we just found out we’re newly pregnant. we’d like to add a second story to our home and have it completed before the new baby arrives. is this possible?
    if you’ve read these questions & answers from the beginning, you’re probably already realizing the answer would be no. if you just jumped here from the top, the answer would still be no. for a second story addition, you’re going to need to allow about 4 months for design (fast pace & quick decisions), at least 2 months for the plan check process, possibly more depending on the local jurisdiction.  then you would need to add another 6-8 months for construction so you’re really looking at a minimum time of 14 months. once you find out you’re pregnant, you’ve got about 8 months before the little bambino arrives.
  13. we would like to add a second story to our house and have a budget of $250,000. is that possible?
    the short answer is no. if you’re thinking of adding a second story, you’re probably thinking of adding at least 1000 square feet of space to the second floor. if you multiply that X $250 per square foot (lower end number)  that comes out to $250,000. you also need to figure in a number for addressing the construction in the downstairs area and add another 15% to 20% on top of all that to arrive at your project budget (see question #9). in our estimation, you’re project budget should be at least $500,000 before seriously contemplating a second story addition.
  14. my neighbor just down the street built a new house for $200 per square foot. can you design a house for us for $200 a square foot?
    we hear about those stories too. the real answer is that $200 per square foot is an unrealistic budget to plan for your project as you should at least figure $250 for the construction budget (within the los angeles area). your neighbor may have had unlicensed contractors working on the job or used some other means to do things on the cheap. while we are mindful of budgets and expectations, we are also very realistic and upfront with our clients.
  15. my brother-in-law is a contractor and we just need a set of plans to get a permit. he said we don’t need an architect to be involved during construction because he can take care of it all. can you provide the plans for us?
    the short answer is no. part of our philosophy at reside architecture, inc. is to take care of our clients from the very beginning to the very end. that means being involved throughout the whole process from initial design to completion of construction. we like to babysit our projects and really enjoy the construction phase of the project.
  16. we would like to build green but think it’s going to be a lot more expensive. can you help us monitor the budget?
    yes. we are very familiar with “green building” and have made that an integral part of our philosophy. we currently have a project under construction that is designed to qualify for the leed for homes program. click to see the westbourne project.
  17. we would like to do something to our house but we’re not sure what. can you help us decide?
    yes, we can. we have worked with a lot of different types of clients and personalites and know the questions to ask in order to help our clients figure out their objectives and goals. oftentimes, projects start out small and once we get in there producing drawings and discussing the design, the clients’ excitement grows as does there vision for the project.
  18. we would interested in having you come take a look at our house. what do we need to do?
    the first thing for you to do is contact us via phone or email. we’d set up  a phone call and we’d ask you several questions to see if your project could be a good fit for both of us. if so, we’d set up a meeting at no obligation to you, to come to your home to discuss the project in more detail. it is best that you review our website to get a feel for our design and philosophy before making an appointment.