1. I want to build [BLANK]. Where do I start?
Whether you have an idea of what you want or if you require some exploration to know what you need, an architect will be able assist you from beginning to end not only with your design options, but also with coordinating the activities and making sure that all milestones are being checked.
If your project's circumstance requires investigation to help you understand what you require and can afford, Habanero Architecture will be able to help you conduct a feasibility study as part of a pre-design arrangement. During this phase you will be able to understand your opportunities and constraints for your project. Information such as spaces (program), code research, zoning research, site analysis (what fits in your property), pro-forma (how viable economically your project can be), and more will be covered during this study.
2. How much will the project cost?
This answer varies, and the best way of answering it is knowing the following parameters: How much area (square-footage) do you require? What type of finishes would you like to use (basic range, mid-range, high-range, specialty-custom solutions)? Where will the project will be located (urban vs. rural - markets will determine labor and material costs)?
Typically Habanero Architecture recommends calculating a minimum of $250.00 dollars (in the North Carolina Triangle area) per square foot for projects that are custom-modern. A more comfortable range would be $300.00 per square-foot. This is a minimum and should always be checked and balanced during the design process.
As this year continues (2020), labor and material costs are still on the rise. Please be aware of this. There are many websites, T.V. shows, blogs, and family and friends that often will misinform the public. When talking to these sources ask them when the project was completed (to get a reference in time), what type of finishes did you use (i.e.. Lowes vs. a custom manufacturer), who was your builder (does he/she have a good reputation, status, good client ratings, years of experience, etc.), where did you build your project (Raleigh, Durham, Asheville, Alabama, New York)?
3. I just want a simple and small project. How much will it cost?
Just like the previous answer, Habanero will recommend a minimum of $250.00 - $300.00 dollars per square-foot (in the North Carolina Triangle Area.)
Economy of scale is a term used in the industry that refers to labor and material costs gained by increasing the volume of the scope of work. In other words, the bigger your house is, the better price per square foot you will get. However, the fact remains that you will still pay more.
With this in mind, a smart and creative design will help you control costs. Examples of this can be: building efficiently with repeating details, combining and maximizing spaces, building with regular shapes, limiting your finish palette (think elegant and simple), using local sourced materials, etc.
4. I want to make a small addition and remodel some parts of my house, how much will it cost?
Additions and remodeling jobs have hidden conditions (buried in walls, floors, ceiling and even within the property) that an architect and/or builder do not have control over (because it is built already.) Sometimes you even need to bring your existing property "up-to code" with certain elements of the project that do not meet the current standards.
When working with a project with inhabitants, the sequence of construction events that is required to renovate a space need to be considered. Therefore the builder needs to charge a fee for these extra steps to ensure that activities will be developed accordingly. This is another reason that pricing may increase.
Habanero recommends comparing the prices of these projects as if they were new construction projects in order to have a successful experience. As mentioned in answer number two, the quality of craftsmanship and materials will affect the price.
5. I will be my own general contractor, therefore I will be saving money, correct?
Overhead and profit would be the margin that you will be saving. That is anywhere from 15 to 25% of the overall construction cost. A word of advice is that acting as your own general contractor is not a simple task. A missed sequence, miscalculation on required materials order, materials not showing up on time, a "surprise" site condition, redoing work not done property, misinterpretation of code standards, hiring cheap sub-contractors, etc. All of these are reasons that might make the percentage savings not be worthy.
6. What is the benefit of hiring an architect if I can get a design-build company?
Habanero Architecture does not build. We design beautifully crafted projects tailored to exceed clients’ expectations. We firmly believe that avoiding conflicts of interest helps us represent your vision better by acting as your agent during the design and building process.
Whether a design-build company or a separate building entity, both will have to bid your project to local subcontractors, so prices will be relatively comparable. The appealing aspect of design-build is the "turn-key" experience, which can lead to following a specific agenda and a limited range of possibilities for your design. The usual design-bid build process might seem slower, but for projects that require a certain level of customization and attention, this delivery remains the most popular option.
There is not a right or wrong, as long as the client is being served, but we encourage our prospect clients to understand this difference.
7. How soon should I start looking for an architect, and/or property, and/or builder?
It is never too early. Habanero Architecture offers design consultation which is like going to the doctor for preventive care. During the consultation we will run a simple analysis where you will be able to understand which options are best to accommodate your future lifestyle. In order to further investigate the specifics of your project, we can offer you a pre-design package that will allow you to explore your possibilities. Whether a couple of months or a year before design commencement, the value of getting a report that will map out the necessary steps to undertake your project will give you tools to make educated decisions and maximize your dream of building your own project.
8. I want to design a [BLANK] SF home in 1 months and move in in 6 months.
Fast-tracking a project is never recommended. There are certain exceptions where fast-tracking can be utilized as a tool to deliver a project, such as a developer building a fast food restaurant to start earning money as soon as possible. However, when fast tracking a project, the quality suffers.
Habanero architecture recommends allocating a minimum of five to six months to design residential and commercial projects of over 1,200 to 10,000 SF. Note that this is just an approximation based on Habanero's historical data. A specific timeline shall be assigned for your project.
Based on Habanero's historical data, typically a residential project would be built in nine to twelve months while commercial projects usually take six to eight months, depending on scope of work and complexity of the project.
Regardless of project scope, design quality and creativity takes time. Things that usually consume the most time are: decisions and commitments (by owners and stakeholders); design bid processes (usually three weeks to a month); bank loan and appraisal process (usually one and a half months); reconciling design features after a bid (Value Engineering); Permitting process (usually one month, but this depends on the size of project and jurisdiction timelines.) Architects are only subject to coordinate efforts among all parties, however he or she is dependent on peoples’ responses and actions.
9. Why should I hire an architect? "I think it would only be an additional expense."
We would recommend you to read our "Value of Architecture" Handbook. It is available on the Free Resources page among other helpful publications.
In short, an architect adds value to your project simply by designing something unique that is tangible and intangible. Although not a guarantee (because of many other factors), if you finish your project using an architect and wait two to five years to sell your property, chances are that your equity is going to be higher than a project not done by one. The design adds value as our professional eyes and minds are trained to interpret your needs and coordination efforts to deliver something beyond what you expected. The intangible value of using an architect is that your daily routine will flow and work better for you. At Habanero, we think that designing places that make our lifestyles better is our mission. "A better architecture for a better you."
The expense of hiring an architect in the great scheme of things is little, compared to the livelong value that you will get in return.
10. How does Habanero Architecture determines its fees?
Our firm offers competitive pricing in the market. We are not the cheapest, but we are also not the most expensive architecture firm. Our fees are determined by the percentage of construction cost pursued for the project. Why? This is a fair way of making sure that the quality, craftsmanship and design are all in the same category. Any established architect needs to cover expenses for operations (salaries, rent, software licenses, and misc. overhead), liability and profit.
We would recommend you to read our "Value of Architecture" Handbook. It is available on the Free Resources page.
11. Do you offer hourly rates?
We also offer hourly fee rates, but we discourage them. We are a creative based firm and we value quality. Creativity knows no time, therefore the solution can come in a matter of hours or days. We feel that hourly rates sometimes punish the architect for being efficient and sometimes by client's auditing the veracity of hours spent to solve something. As cliché as it sounds, Habanero Architecture’s best policy is honesty, transparency and clarity.
Bottom-line, we recommend fixed rate prices to our clients, but we understand that some projects require hourly rates due to their nature. These projects may include: small projects (under 800 SF), simple projects (such as additions), assessment studies, design consultations and construction administration.
12. "I already have the idea, all I need are the blueprints, how much do you charge?"
We usually present our fees as a percentage rate, but we also offer hourly or per square-foot factor fees. There are no discounts for having a predefined idea.
Habanero Architecture makes an effort to accommodate the client's expectations and aspirations in an efficient manner. We offer value to our clients by creating a collaborative and open process. In our experience, "knowing exactly what you want" does not always mean that a piece of furniture is going to fit, clearances are going to be comfortable, the composition of the space is going to be proportioned, code is going to comply, monies will fit the budget or that the overall big picture will be cohesive. Our role as architects allows you to use us to corroborate so that all pieces fit and offer the high quality of design that Habanero promises its clients.
The role of an architect is much more than just drafting. We would recommend you to read our "Value of Architecture" Handbook. It is available on the Free Resources page.
13. "I downloaded an online blueprint, all I need is for you to copy the floor plan, how much do you charge"?
In order to unpack this answer there are three points that we usually follow for other architects or designers work.
In order to unpack this answer there are three points that we usually follow for other architects’ or designers' work.
The first point is a follow up question by Habanero Architecture: "Did you pay for the blueprints or do you have authorization from the architect (or designer) to use them?" If the answer is no, then we will not be able to service you at all because that is a copyright infringement. As Architects, we take pride in what we do, we also would like to be compensated or credited for our ideas just like our colleagues and fellow architects.
The second point is that every jurisdiction and/or location in the world is different and unique. Very often the floor plan will be a perfect fit in relationship to the site or code regulation, thus some modification will be required. Provided of course that you own rights to use that floor plan as stated in the first point.
The third point is that we usually present our fees as a percentage rate, but we also offer hourly or per square-foot factor fees. There are no discounts for having a predefined idea.
14. "Your fees are too expensive, I can get a bathroom (or kitchen) company provide the design included in the material and installation cost."
Although these services might look the same, these are different. Our services should not be compared with the quality level that we strive to offer as they are superior in terms of design. Our design will dictate the material selection and level of craftsmanship based on your expectations.
Standard Payment Disclosers and requirements:
1. Habanero Architecture usually bills monthly per progress of the project. This is usually the last Friday of the month.
2. All invoices are 30 NET.
3. Our policies have changed. All hourly on-site consultations must be paid after the design consultation by cash, check or wire-transfer (QuickBooks transfer).
Payment disclosure clauses for express-agreements:
1. If the agreement contains a cap but you would like to make modifications after the capped hourly rate, you will be charged an hourly fee.
2. By engaging in contract you will be required to a non-refund policy for services already performed.
3. Habanero Architecture requires 100% payment upon completion of work before releasing the issued documents.
4. A design study consists of one or many ideas. Regardless of the number of ideas presented, you are paying for the exploration time and one final design. If the other ideas are not going to be used, there are no discounts or half payments for ideas not utilized.
5. After services in this contract have concluded, miscellaneous questions by stakeholders, other consultants, code officials, builders or other professionals may emerge. After the agreed services have been rendered, Habanero Architecture will be glad to further assist you with taking care of requests for information coordination efforts. However, you will be charged an hourly rate in the following fashion:
5.a No charge
Within reason, for a ten minute conversation spent for a "yes" or "no", or light recommendations, there will be no charge. However, if research is required to answer an email or a phone conversation, you will be billed hourly.
5.b Half Hourly rate
For misc. communication over ten minutes, but less than a 30 minute call or email.
5.c Full Hourly rate
If communication takes over 30 minutes spent on a phone call or email you will be billed for the full hour.