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So you're ready to get started on your new project.  Here's a quick overview of what you'll need to get started.  Keep in mind, this list is geared towards residential design and construction projects primarily in California.  In other parts of the country where we work, like Vermont, the requirements are much less stringent.  In Vermont, they don't even have building code!


As-Built Drawings

If you're working on an existing home and doing a remodel or an addition.  You'll need a set of "as-built" drawings for any designer to begin work on your project.  These "as-built" are created by a consultant coming to your home, taking measurements, then drawing you project in a computer software to provide, plans, sections, elevations, and other drawings that show the way your home looks today.  This set of drawings is used as a base for us to design over.  

Often times owners will have old plan sets lying around their homes from previous owners or projects.  These typically won't be accurate enough for a new project.  Most projects when complete vary from the set of drawings created for the permit, therefore almost 100% of the time, we will require these new as-built drawings to be created.

Who can create these drawings?  Sometimes the Architect will, other times companies that do only this type of work will be hired to do the work.  It all depends on your particular project.

Property Boundary and Topographic Survey

Most projects will require a licensed surveyor to do a property boundary and topographic survey.  Sometimes more simple projects can get away without one, but if you're adding to your footprint, building a new home, or if there are any new structures being created on your site that might come close to a property line or setback, you'll need a survey.  

A survey creates a base map of your property showing the footprint of your home, the property lines, topographic contours (how you project slopes if there is a slope), site walls, trees, fences, utility locations and other significant features on your site.  Like the "as-built" plans, the survey shows your property as it exists today and it's used as a base to design over.  

The survey is a key component of the planning department's review.

03: Permitting

With the approved pricing and design in hand, we work with the consultant team and aggregate all the required drawings to submit for the final building permit.  We oversee the permitting process, often with an outside expediter, from start to finish.  This phase typically requires close oversight and plan set revisions to address any comments provided by the local building department.  At the end of this phase, we have a final permit in hand ready for you or the General Contractor.

04:  Construction Documents

This phase typically overlaps with the permitting phase and is a phase that is generally unique to full-service Architecture firms.  The work in this phase includes the full development of all interior and exterior detailing for the project to ensure a clear and concise project scope and design scope for you as well as the General Contractor. All interior and exterior finishes are selected and documented in collaboration with you and any other design consultants (some projects include interior designers, others do not).  This information is built into a drawing set that could range from 30 - 150 pages of drawings depending on the scale and complexity of your project.

05:  Bidding and Negotiation

Using the final Construction Document set completed in Step 04, we will work with you to complete final pricing with General Contractors either through a negotiated or competitive bidding exercise.  During this phase we gather information from the selected GC's and consolidate this information into a manageable format so you are able to understand the differences between each contractor in terms of both their process and their pricing structure. We work with you as the owner to review pricing and contract options (fixed versus time and materials) and work with you to ensure you're supported during the contract negotiation process.  Once a GC is selected, we ensure the pricing aligns with the Construction Documents and your goals as the owner.

06:  Construction Administration

As licensed Architects, we require on-going involvement during the construction phase of the project.  This work typically includes the review of GC invoices, weekly team calls to check in on construction, periodic site visits, submittal and shop drawing reviews, on-going design support and the review of construction change orders.  My owners are unaware of this phase of work, it is an absolutely critical phase of the project and one of the highest values in our opinion.  This is where the rubber meets the road and where our years of experience are absolutely critical in making sure you are supported through the entire project.

Pricing Structure

Our pricing structure is based upon project scope and size, which is ultimately always a reflection of the project construction cost.  Our fees range between 5% - 15% of final construction cost.  We pinpoint a final percentage during the development of our project proposals taking into consideration your specific project needs and scope.  

The construction cost of a project is the final contract amount identified by a contractor including change orders incurred during construction.  As an example, our fee on a $500,000 construction project could range between $25,000 - $75,000 depending on the complexity and scope of the project. 

Project Timeline

Project "design" timelines can range from 4-12 months depending on your specific project.  These timelines don't include local permit approvals, construction and planning review which can vary dramatically depending on your location.  We have completed recent projects from start-to-finish in as little as 1 year (first intro call through move in) we have also had projects last for 5 years.  We help you to identify this a realistic schedule for your project during the first phase of work once under contract.

Next Steps

With hundreds of projects completed to date, we believe in our process and know what it takes to make your project a success.  We greatly value our clients and believe in the power of honest and proactive communication.  We focus on our role, which is to provide you with both exceptional design work and pertinent information that will allow you to make informed decisions, leveraging our expertise and experience.  We are the driving force that pushes your project from an idea into reality and we love what we do. We would love to hear more about your project. 


Mayacama Stone Cottage 3
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Mia, Home Owner

Working with Kirley+ was a complete pleasure. They were always available to talk and clearly communicated different stages of the project. Transparent, professional and a joy to work with. I would highly suggest them for your project!