At Nine12 Architects, we start with an initial consultation to understand your needs, the scope of work, and the space we need to create. It is a good chance to get a feel for how well we will work together and make sure we are a good fit. After the initial consultation, we will typically be able to provide a proposal for our services that includes scope of work and outlines our fees.
After an agreement is signed, design can begin! Most projects can be broken down into the following design phases:
This phase includes programming (creating a list of client needs, space requirements and relationships) and any research necessary before work begins. This includes the initial interview, documenting existing structures and site conditions, and researching applicable codes.
This phase is very collaborative and consists of initial design concepts. These drawings can be loose sketches or digital floor plans and elevations. You can expect to meet and discuss one or several options. Typically, this is also the time we recommend bringing in an interior designer to have an initial meeting to discuss design direction and preliminary interior concepts.
Once a direction is agreed upon, we will start to select materials, refine the plans and elevations, and start work on construction details. At the end of this phase, you will have enough information to begin interviewing contractors and gathering cost estimates. This is also where we would apply for a Preservation Permit if the project is located in a historic overlay.
After design decisions have been nailed down and a contractor has been selected, we will add another level of detail with additional drawings and notes. This final set will be submitted for permitting and will be the set that the contractor will need to build. This is not the most glamorous phase but necessary for a well-built project.
We are not done when we hand the drawings over to the contractor. We are available to answer any questions, assist with any issues that come up in the field, and check in regularly to make sure things are going well during construction. It is important to us that your project is being built to your expectations and standards.
WHY IS HIRING AN ARCHITECT IMPORTANT?
We are skilled in space planning, construction methods, materials selection, project management, and working with local government officials. We have the education and experience required to analyze what you want and translate that to a functional, buildable plan. We can think spatially and visualize your house. We have experience working in certain neighborhoods with specific codes and regulations - historic
neighborhoods for example.
WHAT EXACTLY DOES AN ARCHITECT DO?
We listen to a client’s needs and wants, then take those thoughts and translate them into plans and elevations. We can think through the house as a whole and foresee how things will fit together, and if there will be any constructability issues. We manage your project from beginning to end and ensure that the project adheres to local building codes. We work hard to keep your project within your budget and make revisions as necessary. We can give you recommendations for contractors who would be well suited for your project, as well as help managing other professionals such as interior designers, landscape architects, structural engineers, etc.
WHAT DOES AN ARCHITECT NOT DO?
We do not act as a contractor or provide an exact price for construction (we can provide estimates based on SF and experience). We also do not provide couples therapy - It’s very helpful to have both parties on the same page from the start.
HOW DOES AN ARCHITECT BECOME LICENSED?
We are required to have a specific professional degree - either achieved through a 5-year bachelor's program or a Master’s in architecture. We accrue thousands of hours in many different areas of architecture as part of a nationally-controlled internship program, including tasks in every phase of design as well as management and business operations. We are also required to take a series of tests to ensure that we abide by the requirements and codes that protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?
Every project is different. A good architect should be able to adapt their process to fit what you need. Some may only provide floor plans while others provide the complete design package - down to paint colors. Make sure you understand what is provided in the scope and how their fee corresponds. It is important that you understand how they will approach your project.
HOW CAN I MAKE IT A SMOOTH PROCESS ON MY END?
Be very open about what you want and what your budget is from the beginning. The process will go much more smoothly if the architect knows what you can spend on the front end. Share images that you are drawn to and explain what you like. The more information you can provide at the beginning, the closer the initial design will be to that perfect design you’re looking for. Be honest. If something isn’t working, say something. The architect’s goal is getting you what you want and need. It should not be about their ego or what they want out of the project. That being said, the architect will present a design that they believe is the best way to solve the problem based on their years of experience and education, and what is the most aesthetically pleasing. When in doubt, you should feel comfortable trusting their judgement. Pay your bills on time. Don’t be afraid to ask for something or for an opinion that may be outside what you think an architect does. Architects are both project managers as well as designers, and they usually have strong, educated opinions.