Now you’re ready for the next step. We strongly recommend you review our portfolio and testimonials from a few of our satisfied clients, here on our website. Familiarizing yourself with our style of design, accomplishments, and the pride we take in our work is extremely important to us. If you believe our type of work is within the range of your tastes and interests please give us a call or email us to introduce yourself. Describe the project you have in mind; a new home, addition, renovation, or if a multi-story structure. Be specific with the location of your project so we may determine if we are a good fit and if our capabilities are in line with your expectations.
Your housing needs, goals, finances and dreams will be the focus of this candid discussion. Equally important, it’s essential you learn sufficient background information about us before you engage our services. We are attempting to do the same thing: to evaluate you as a potential client and see if our personalities mesh. Consider that a project can typically last upwards of nine months. Obviously, we both need to decide if we can work together comfortably for the duration. Typically, the interview will take place at your residence or the proposed project site and will require at least an hour of time, sometimes longer if the “chemistry” is right. We charge a flat rate of fifty dollars ($50) for the initial interview meeting. This amount is reimbursed to you if you decide to utilize our services and an agreement is signed. At the interview, we can provide working drawings samples of some completed project, at your request. Any photos or magazine clippings you’ve collected that help in defining your goals are valuable tools. Keep them handy for reference. One glance may illustrate a desired “look” or room layout more accurately than a lengthy explanation.
Our fee is based on a stipulated hourly rate, plus expenses. We are amenable to tailoring our services to suit your needs or construction budget. We believe any successful working relationship begins with a clear, well-documented mutual understanding. Our written agreement with you will indicate the following:
The scope of the proposed work;
The amount of the projected construction budget;
The specific services you expect to be provided, linked to a basic fee structure (i.e., design services based on a percentage of the total construction cost or at an established hourly rate; meeting or construction observation hourly rates; etc.);
A structured payment schedule with stipulated dollar amounts or percentages.
THE DESIGN TEAM
We welcome you to participate in the creative process and enjoy implementing a “team” concept to expedite portions of the decision-making process. Cabinets, finishing hardware, material and color selections are but a few choices that will have to be made. We encourage our clients to visit showrooms and gather samples and swatches, color chips and brochures, and then meet with us to discuss ideas and coordinate a strategy. Whether you’re considering an addition to your current residence or planning the home of your dreams, we can help you create that special place called home.
YOUR ROLE ON THE DESIGN TEAM
Hiring us may be your best decision thus far, but work on your new home or addition has only just begun. As the project owner, you’ll play an important role in reviewing and approving design proposals and revisions. The materials selection process is equally important; cabinets, carpets, doors, plumbing fixtures, hardware, windows and much more. Don’t be overwhelmed. We will guide you each step of the way if needed. Perhaps the most telling time spent with us is in the first few meetings. Your needs, budget, taste, lifestyle and goals will be discussed in depth. The information garnered from these conversations will become the source inspiration from which we will prepare preliminary design sketches. So, it’s a good idea for you, and others who will live with you, to do some “homework” first.
DESIGN IDEAS AND OBJECTIVES
To help better communicate your ideas and goals to us, consider preparing a scrapbook. It’s fun and everyone in the family can contribute to their own chapter. Collect newspaper clippings, magazine articles, product brochures, paint chips, photos; anything that will illustrate a desired “look” or convey information about a design detail that strikes your fancy. We highly recommend you collect any and all existing information for your property, too: a current site survey; deed restrictions; or in the case of an addition or renovation, existing drawings of the structure. Begin collecting and organizing scrapbook items in advance of when you plan to first meet with us. A scrapbook saves you from having to accurately recall design particulars from memory and will “jump start” the design process. More importantly, we can immediately determine if your design expectations are consistent with your construction budget.
PRIORITIZING YOUR "WISH LIST"
As you fill the pages of your scrapbook, consider the things you like most about your current residence and things you wish to be different in your new home. Create two lists to record your thoughts, “new” and “old”. “New” will list conditions and things you want or need in your new home; “Old” will list conditions and things about your current home which you like that can remain the same.
FINE TUNING YOUR “WISH LIST”
The next step is to prioritize the items in both lists by order of importance. Of course, items can be reordered any number of times before you’re satisfied. Fine-tuning a wish list with a spouse or family members will delineate your project goals more effectively. You can benefit from this exercise in other ways, too. Assuming you must deviate from your original program goals due to a budget cap, items at the bottom of the “New” list can be earmarked as discretionary items. This should result in the least negative impact on your preferred design. Alternately, these items can offer direction in planning a future phase of construction, when funds become available. For example, structural provisions can be made during initial construction to accommodate a family room addition; utilities can be run and capped off where they’ll be easily accessible for future tie-ins. Such planning now translates into reduced demolition and teardown expenses when the next phase of construction eventually begins. Consider the following questions as you prepare your scrapbook and lists, and make a note of anything else you feel is important to your project goals:
What style of home appeals to you?
Do all rooms have to be on one level?
Do you need more closet space; a bigger kitchen; a private study?
Do you want an oversized garage; a workshop; a sewing room?
Do you need extra space for large family gatherings?
Does a low-maintenance exterior fit your busy lifestyle?
Does your business require a home office?
How important are the outdoor spaces? Would you like an expansive rear deck or a relaxing front porch?
Do you want custom hardwood molding, cabinetry, and other millwork?
Helping our clients to solidify design objectives is serious work for us, but you and your family are important members of the design team, too. Together, your scrapbook and comments will define the design-task to your expectations. And that ultimately translates into years of enjoyment from a living environment you helped to create!
WORKING WITH US
What happens next? Brainstorming sessions to discuss your goals and project wish list; translating that wish list into spaces, which suit the needs and expectations of family members who will use them; integrating these goals with a construction allowance that corresponds with your budget. This planning process is known as developing a “program”; an outline of construction objectives, tailored to your specific project.
ESTABLISHING A PROGRAM AND BUDGET
We typically ask many questions during the initial stage of planning a new home or addition. We ask you to keep an open mind as we work together. Discussions may lead to creative design proposals which you never thought possible or, perhaps, considered beyond your construction budget. Of course, any project must be designed to comply with applicable building codes and regulations within a given community. But ordinary living spaces are not the result of restrictive building codes. We offer an experienced, educated eye to solving unique design dilemmas, incorporating the best applicable technologies in our design solutions. Staying within an established budget can be one of the most frustrating aspects of construction. Just about everyone has heard from a friend or relative that their new home or addition cost substantially more than they first expected. Obviously, this can happen when some portion of the construction materials or labor has been underestimated or perhaps overlooked altogether. But other times people assume an “if you’re going to build it, build it right” position, and they make the decision to overspend their budget, fully aware of the extra financial burden they’re assuming. Frankly, there are so many variables involved in construction that preliminary estimates are rarely 100% accurate considering that estimates must be recalculated after each design revision. Knowing this, we may establish a contingency amount for each line item in the proposed construction budget. By doing this, the client is made aware of potential cost overruns during design development and can render informed decisions accordingly. After budgetary decisions are finalized, we can work to secure the most value from available construction dollars.
THE DESIGN PROCESS
Working with us, your dreams and ideas are transformed into a refined set of construction documents that accurately reflect the scope of the project. This step-by-step process is outlined below:
Establish Goals and Prepare a Program: We will meet with you to discuss and outline your expectations, needs, and construction budget.
Schematic Design Phase: we will present rough sketches of floor plans, site plans and usually, exterior elevation studies for you to review and approve. The time needed to work through this phase depends on the complexity of the proposed design. At your request, exterior and interior perspective renderings can be prepared, or even a scale study model of the design. The goal here is for you to fully understand the proposed design and to make any possible alterations.
Design Development Phase: Scaled drawings are created and revised as necessary; specifications are outlined. You see the project pull together as the design evolves. Now is the time to address any lingering questions you may have relating to the layout, size or function of the space.The time needed to work through this phase depends on your ability to make prompt decisions.
Construction Document Phase: Final working drawings and specifications are prepared for your approval. Door, window and cabinet selections have been made; detailed drawings of the floor, wall, and ceiling treatments are prepared. It’s at this point that budgets must be carefully monitored. Carpet, tile, hardwood, plumbing and electrical fixtures, cabinets, moldings, etc. are all available in a wide price/quality range. It is important to us that we supply detailed specifications for specific construction products/ brands that will be used to keep the construction budget intact and to ensure that quality materials are used. During the design process, this phase requires the majority of the time.
The Bidding Process: We offer services to oversee the bidding process. First, this involves the preparation of bidding instructions, a set of guidelines to contractors, the intent of which is to secure an “apples-for-apples” quote within an allotted time from each bidder. Next, a select group of potential contractors is given an opportunity to bid on your project. Each is issued a complete set of drawings, specifications and bid instructions. Unfortunately, things can get confusing from this point on. You can find yourself in a sea of unintelligible jargon as each contractor attempts to woo you into their camp. And furthermore, a low bid doesn’t necessarily mean a contractor is best suited to do the job. Making sense out of all this is where we can prove to be your best ally. As an experienced construction counselor, our comments and recommendations will better prepare you to select the best contractor for the job.
Construction Administration Phase: We can also provide project administration services for you during construction. Project administration typically involves monitoring the work in progress, approving contractor shop drawings, and coordinating specialty consultants such as engineers or interior designers/decorators in general, acting as your agent during construction. The contractor awarded the bid is in charge of construction and accordingly, is responsible for the work, which includes accountability for workmanship and materials. We will observe the contractor’s work to ensure the design intent is followed and report the progress of the work back to you. Additionally, when the client receives a request for payment from the contractor, the building designer may be dispatched to inspect the work before a check is issued. They may certify that work has been completed as indicated on the requisition for payment; that any conditions spelled out in the contract documents relating to this particular payment have been satisfied; and that a progress payment can be released to the contractor.
The journey to your “dream home” can take an unfortunate wrong turn if drawings are less than thorough and specifications are left in limbo. Contractors routinely refer to construction documents to justify an action or lack of action. Any resulting squabble can bring construction to a screeching halt while high-priced attorneys iron-out a settlement. We try to avert such conflicts before work begins: first, by exploring design solutions with our client on paper, and then by meeting with contractors bidding on the project to answer any questions regarding a specification or drawing detail. Be it a new home, addition or renovation, thorough planning, and good design go hand in hand. Estudio Peralez exists for that reason, so secure our services for your next building project!