Questions & Answers

What We Do

Why do I need to hire an architect?

You don't. Buildings are built every day all across the country without an architect. But if you hire us, your project will most certainly be better on every level. It's really about 2 things: managing your risk through a complex construction project, and increasing the quality of your experience for the life of your building.

We thrive on complex problems: if you have a site that is tricky to build on, or if you dream of living in a space that suits you exactly, or if you have reached the end of your rope trying to figure out how to reconfigure your house to your family's specific wants and desires, then it's smart money to bring an architect on board for a custom solution. 

If your design budget is limited, we have some excellent low-cost solutions available - call us and ask about our Stock Plans and how we can modify them to suit your plans.

Are you expensive?

Good question! You mean compared to other architects? Or compared to not using an architect at all?

We make sure to be very competitive for our region, which often translates to a real bargain when we work out of state (we currently have projects up and down the East Coast). It's always a great idea to look around though, we welcome the chance to prove our worth.

We also know our services can save you money. We build buildings that consistently cost less money to run than standard practice, year after year after year. With the current costs of fuel, we're confident you will save more money operating your building than you spent on our fees.

And what about compared to spending stacks of money - possibly your life savings - on a building you will spend many years in, but might be built or designed poorly? Compared to the regrets of not building the very best, architects are cheap, in our humble opinion. When you come to terms with the true scale of your undertaking, we provide cheap insurance, and the potential for enormous joy and satisfaction. But what did you think we'd say?

What do I get for my money?

A lot! We're quite sure that if we hadn't been able to provide great value to all kinds of clients for all our years, we wouldn't still be in business.

Creative processes tend by nature to feel a bit mysterious, and some of that is the nature of the work. Still, we've been doing this long enough to make pretty good estimates as to where we'll end up. You should always know what you're paying for. Here is what we typically deliver for each phase of your project, knowing that the total number of phases we work on is always up to you.

If this is still out of your range, call us! We have many of ways to get you great design for a price you can afford:

I. Schematic Design: establish the scope of design brief, create initial design concepts & style, allocation of spaces, general appearance, interior and exterior materials as appropriate.

(approx. fee: 2-3% of residential construction costs, 1-2% of commercial construction costs)

II. Design Development: revisions to preliminary design, hard-line plans, sections, basic dimensions, selection of doors, windows, mechanical systems, initial structural system.

(approx. fee: 3-4% of residential construction costs, 2-3% of commercial construction costs)

III. Construction Documents: fully dimensioned floor plans, elevations, building and wall sections; foundation and framing plans; door, window, and hardware schedules; electrical and lighting plans; construction details for the builder; interior & exterior finish notes.

(approx. fee: 3-4% of residential construction costs, 2-3% of commercial construction costs)

IV. Construction Phase: We act as a representative of the owner during construction; we meet with the owner, general contractor and any subcontractors on site as needed to assist with interpreting the drawings and design concepts and to assist with any changes or problems that arise.

(approx. fee: 1-2% of residential construction costs, 1% of commercial construction costs)

What size of projects do you take on?

We design projects of all sizes, from remodels that might have a total construction budget of $100,000 to larger commercial projects with budgets in the millions.

For those people unsure if hiring an architect is right for your needs we are always available to talk over the phone, by email, or meet at our office, your home or building site to help you evaluate whether your remodel or new project makes sense, both in terms of design and budget. Our first meetings are at no cost or risk to you.

For those people who aren't ready for a full design contract we offer a DESIGN TEST. This includes a site visit in our local area to your home, business, or building site, a 2 hour consultation, and a follow-up evaluation with sketches and recommendations. This process, is affordable - only $500 - and is an excellent way to evaluate risks and begin the design process, especially if you've never worked with an architect before.

What types of projects do you take on?

We love any project that improves our larger world, and we love a new challenge. We always hope to work with people who are open to exploring new ways of building high quality, low impact buildings.  

We are designers first and foremost, dedicated to solving the complex problems people bring us regardless of size, be it residential single family homes, multi-family buildings, or mixed use. We've done retail, commercial - including restaurants - and institutional buildings. We also perform carbon neutrality studies for organizations looking to move in that direction.

We've yet to do a high-rise, but try us! We love challenges, and know that in terms of low-energy buildings regardless of building type, we're tops in the region. We're also not above doing bathroom remodels. That's where we started and as part of our firm's mission, we strive to continue to serve all people who endeavor to add good design to their lives.

How far away do you work?

There's no Wi-Fi on the moon yet, much less atmosphere, so we'd draw a hard line there. Otherwise, we've gotten very good at working far from home. We design out of state on a daily basis, perhaps because our skills are still rare in many parts of the country, perhaps because our rates are very competitive compared to much of the country and perhaps because our in-house communications systems have gotten quite good at working with clients without having to be in the same room.

When it comes to communication, we have seamless, hi-quality video conferences with live fly-throughs of your design on a moment's notice. Get a good internet connection (and maybe a site web-cam) on your end and we'll do the rest. If we use all our tech-powers, just a few site visits throughout the process can sometimes be sufficient.

We've also found out that designing low-energy buildings for Maine climates is like swinging 2 bats in the on deck circle. Unless you're in Reykjavik, bring it on!

What's a Design Test?

It's a preliminary design session on-site at your project that would give you approximately two (2) hours consultation time with a licensed architect, travel time, and documentation and recommendations that follow from the on-site design work prepared back in our office.

In that time we would discuss design possibilities, technical sustainability strategies and floor plan options of your existing home. Often we're able to make strong recommendations about whether or not a structure is worth renovating, or whether the structure you're looking to build is feasible given the budget.

We charge $500 for this service. This provides you with rather immediate "deliverables" that you can take away from our meeting.

If this type of session works is successful, we then talk about what further services could entail, whether that might be further hourly services, permitting or construction documents or other specific design tasks. Or maybe a quick reality check is all you need.

Who will work on my project?

We work as a team in our office. We are a group with a diverse skill set, and we try to use those skills to their fullest. We have different costs, specialties and availability, and we try to use that diversity to full advantage.

Every project starts with a Principal in charge, who guides the project through to completion. We don't believe in handing off clients - we're too dedicated to providing great service for the life of the project. The size of your team will depend greatly on the size of the project. A typical residential project has two people on the team; a commercial project might have three or four, depending on scale and need for speed.

We get to know you and your project a bit, and decide internally on the best fit, based on personality, energy, style, etc. If a person with who we think you'll work with the best isn't available, sometimes we'll suggest that you wait a bit till they become available. And sometimes, if it fits both principals, it honestly just depends on who takes the call.