Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need an architect?
For small projects like replacing a window or patching a wall, the answer is no. For larger projects, such as an addition or renovation to an existing building, designing a new house, or work on a commercial building, an architect can add tremendous value and cost savings to your project. In addition to the aesthetics and functionality that an architect can bring to your project, there is a tremendous amount of research, planning and creative thinking that occurs in order to produce a set of high quality design drawings. With the increasing complexity of building systems, the continuous influx of new building products and materials into the marketplace, and the insistence on exceptional design, the architect is the only professional with the education, training and experience needed to lead the team of engineers and consultants on a project to ensure the successful coordination and integration of these disciplines. More information on the value of hiring an architect can be found here: http://www.aia.org/value/index.htm
Why should I hire INTEGRATA rather than another architect or simply go to a builder?
Architects were once big players in the construction process. They were just as involved in the construction as they were in the design phase. The owner imagined a structure, the architect drew plans for it; the architect supervised construction and controlled costs. There was a time when the architect was called the “master builder.” The architect connected owners to buildings-in-the-making each and every step of the way.
INTEGRATA, as a sole-source provider of design and construction services, reprises the role of owner’s ombudsman during the construction process. INTEGRATA brings together all the pieces of information on the drawings, coordinates the daily scheduling of all the suppliers, subcontractors, fabricators and general work staff, and assumes the responsibility of delivering a project on time and on budget.
The most direct method for controlling construction costs is for the Owner to contract with a sole-source provider firm that combines Architects with Contractors who will provide both the design for the project as well as construction of a completed building for a specified sum. The opportunity for miscommunication between the Architect and the Contractor, which is the primary cause of cost overruns and delays, is essentially eliminated when the design team and the build team are one in the same. By combining the design effort with the construction team, the Owner eliminates the possibility of contractor claims alleging errors and omissions in the design documents.
One way for the Architect and Contractor to align their allegiances squarely with the Owner is to charge for “cost planning” or “pre-construction services.” The sole-source provider firm and the Owner hash out a complete and realistic budget and scheduling plan. A couple of thousand dollars in fees later (or tens of thousands depending on scope, scale and complexity), the Owner has the needed information to get the project done right. By paying for the bid, the owner has essentially guaranteed that the work will be completed as budgeted.
In this cost planning system used by INTEGRATA, the Owner and the Architect/Construction firm have created a set of fieldwork quality plans and a budget that is construction-cost savvy. INTEGRATA has provided a valuable service to the Owner – a full set of plans that the owner can afford to build and/or is willing to pay for. At the end of the design phase and cost planning, the Owner can hire INTEGRATA Construction to do the job as negotiated.
How long will it take to design and build my house?
Every project is unique and the length of time required for design and construction will depend upon many factors ranging from the location of the property to the design requirements of the clients. Among the many factors that will influence the design and construction timeline are the uniqueness of site conditions including topography, soil structure, and any environmental concerns such as flood plains, conservation lands and wind zone designations. Zoning considerations, historic district restrictions, structural requirements can also impact design and construction time. The Owner’s design program – their specific space requirements for the project – will also have an impact on the timeline as will the degree of complexity of the building design. As a reference point, we recently designed a 3,700 square foot home in about 6 months and constructed it in under a year.
How does INTEGRATA charge for its services?
The design fees are separate from the construction fees and two different contracts would be signed if the client chooses to continue with INTEGRATA during construction. Architectural fees for a residential project could range from up to 20% of the cost of construction depending upon the size and complexity of the project. Typically, the construction costs include more than what can be attributable to “bricks and mortar.” Construction costs that an Owner should expect to incur include other important items such as septic systems, tree removal, underground utility trenches and connections, sitework, landscaping and other tasks that can sometimes be overlooked during early discussions regarding cost.
INTEGRATA prefers to be up front with these costs and review them with the Owner early on as part of the total project cost rather than withhold information about the true project costs just to win a project. This price range takes into account the need, at times, for additional design professionals such as a structural engineer, mechanical engineer, interior designer, energy modeler, audio/video systems and control designers and others. At the end of the Design Phase, INTEGRATA will present the client with a detailed construction cost proposal and a schedule for construction.
What are reimbursable expenses?
Above and beyond the basic design and construction management service fees there are other expenses incurred during a project which cannot easily be predicted since each project is unique. The cost of printed materials, additional insurances if needed, specialty consultants, long distance travel and communication are a few examples.
What other expenses should a client plan to pay for?
INTEGRATA usually has our clients work directly with Civil Engineers to conduct site surveys prior to starting the design process. This helps to insure that time and money are not wasted pursuing design options that might not comply with the specific parameters or restrictions imposed by existing site conditions. On some projects there may be the need for soil, mold, mildew, lead and/or asbestos testing and, under certain circumstances, abatement.
We are working with a real estate agent and are considering purchasing a property (with or without a house on it), how could INTEGRATA help and what would it cost?
For a nominal fee, INTEGRATA would provide an on-site consultation with you, make a visual inspection of the overall structure (if one exists) and talk through what we see as the challenges as well as the potential for development or improvement. We can conduct a cursory evaluation of the various systems of an existing building. For instance, we can provide our professional opinion about the current condition of the foundation and the structural frame (where observable), and advise you on the general efficiency and expected life of the current mechanical system. We can identify areas of concern that should be addressed in order to prevent future, or continued damage to the structure. We can also identify opportunities for changing the current configuration of rooms or adding onto the structure to accommodate new functions or lifestyles. Our ability to ascertain the feasibility and approximate costs of various options makes it easier for a prospective buyer to determine whether or not to make an offer on the property.
Perhaps it is vacant land that is being considered for purchase, or land with a structure (or structures) that will be torn down. We can provide valuable advice that will empower you with the knowledge of what development costs might be for one property versus another based on our knowledge and understanding of site development costs, infrastructure costs, zoning constraints, building design costs, construction costs, site access limitations, and other variables that will affect your bottom line.
INTEGRATA would work on an hourly basis for these additional services. The initial fee for these services may be credited if you subsequently enter into a contract for Architectural services with INTEGRATA after the purchase of the property.