Frequently Asked Questions

Why hire an architect?

Whether you are planning a commercial development or mapping out your dream house, you want to make sure that your dream and vision becomes a reality. To ensure success, bring in value, stay on top of your purpose, and love your reward, make sure you do one thing first – hire an architect.

Developing projects in a professional and organized manner may sound simple but with a financial investment on the line, you want to make sure your project is in the hands of a master within the field. That’s what architects are here for look no further because Mark Siemieniec is just a call away from you completing that commercial development or creating your dream home!

What does it cost to hire an architect?

Searching for and hiring an architect can be simple but the pricing will vary depending on the service. For Mark, its simple, he looks at two key factors including new projects versus remodeling projects, and then factors in construction costs.

For new projects, he will start on a clean slate and begin from the ground up. Remodeling projects are more difficult to do so there is an increase when hiring any architect, including Mark, but after completing measurements, adjusting to modifications, and working around changes, the investment is one you will not regret! This is your vision and your dream. Mark understands the importance in making this investment a valuable one for his clients.
You could google for price listings or research online for days but to get the BEST price in a timely response, just call Mark Siemieniec today and get a quote or an estimate right away!

What's the difference between design build and design bid process?

In a home design process, the client has the plans drawn up and are able to give those plans to several builders and receive a quote (bid) from each on how much the project will cost. This is based on what is shown on the drawings. If something is not shown on the drawings then it is not included in the price. There is no mind reading in this process. So, if the front door is not shown on the plans, then it is not included. The cost of the front door would be added to the project as a change order. By having several builders bid the drawings you will get a competitive price for the cost of the project.

In a design build process, you negotiate the price on the home based, sometimes, on preliminary drawings and what would normally be included in the type of project being built. In the example above, it would be normal for a front door to be provided in a home, thus the price of the front door is included in the cost of the project. The construction fee is negotiated upfront usually as a cost-plus markup. So, whatever it cost the contractor he will charge you that plus a markup for his labor and profit.

Should I bid or negotiate my project with the contractor?

The pros and cons of each method vary and the relative value of each to the client depends on the client’s involvement in the project. If the clients want to have a hands-on approach, he can monitor the progress of the project and also the costs. Most clients are not experienced in the construction and may not feel comfortable getting involved in the daily construction process. Clients may retain the architect to monitor the project on their behalf.

Typically, if the architect is used, he will provide construction administration services. The architect, along with the owner will make himself available for the bid period to answer any questions that the bidding contractor or his subcontractor may have. Once the bids are received and evaluated, a contractor is selected and a contract for construction is formalized, then executed. The benefit to this process is that you now have a fixed price of what the project will cost and can budget accordingly. As with any project, unforeseen conditions often come up and a solution is derived. This usually results in a change order. The cost of these change orders is typically being based on a cost-plus percentage for markup and profit. The number of these change orders can vary on a project, for a new ground up project, the change order percent can be around 1% to 4% of the project cost.

On remodels where there are more unforeseen issues, it can be as high as 10% to 14%. On a design build process, the client selects the contractor up front and negotiates the cost of the project based on limited and preliminary set of drawings that the contractor has provided, which is usually enough information to obtain a permit. The Contractor assumes what is not shown on the project drawings and includes that in his pricing to the client. Only when there is a change in the scope of the project, for instance, a room is added or a major component is changed, would there be a change order. That would be negotiated per the terms of the agreement and added to the work provided by the contractor. Generally, the project cost upfront is higher on the design build, over the design bid process. In the design build, more must be assumed and covered, whereas the design bid, it is not shown it is not in the project and thus becomes a change order. Because the contractor has designed the building, he controls the design and the cost to build that design. The client may be limited in any customization or special feature unless it was included as part of the original negotiations.

What happens in the initial consultation?

Usually, I receive a phone call and introductions are made. The caller tells me a bit about what they are interested in doing and asks if I am capable of the project. I will ask for general information about the project; size of the building, area of the land, location, sources of funding, and general timeline that the caller wants to complete the project. I will suggest that we meet at the project site if it is local and set a day and time for that meeting.

Prior to the meeting, I will research the property information and location, including tax information, zoning, and any special HOA requirements. If the information is available, I will look up the sanitary study for septic sewer to determine how many bedrooms the property is approved for.

At the meeting, I ask the potential client to walk me through their vision of what they are wanting to achieve and ask various questions that pertain to meeting their goals. For a residence, I will ask how many bedrooms, sizes of each, major spaces i.e. living room, family room, kitchen and their respective room sizes, orientation and special requirements. Are there any views that are important to take in? Special features to create – i.e. wrap around porches, screen in or covered decks. I will offer my opinion on how I can assist the client in meeting their goals and how their vision can be accomplished using my services. I will then explain my process of design and how that will be utilized in meeting their goals. I give a brief overview of my basis of how I charge for my fees. At that point, I ask them if they have any questions and spend as much time as needed to address those questions. It is my goal during this meeting to give the client information about me and what I offer to make them comfortable in proceeding the next step of retaining my services. At that point I will return to the office and generate the letter of understanding and agreement for signature.

See the blog post in question three.

When does construction begin?

When the drawings are complete and the building permits are approved (as well as the septic, the Home Owner’s Association approvals, and any other required approvals, such as bank loan approvals, Duke Energy, lake access approvals), and a contact has been negotiated and signed with the contractor, construction can begin. At that point, if there isn’t inclement weather holding up excavation and the underground utility work, construction can begin. From the start of design to the start of construction, depending on the site conditions and neighborhood, anywhere from 4 to 8 months can elapse before construction can begin.

How long does the process take from start to finish?

Design and construction drawing can take from 4 to 10 weeks to complete depending on the complexity of the design and size of the home. Often a major time factor is client driven. I will often ask questions, where the client will want to talk it over and get back to me. Sometimes that is just a “sleep on it” consideration, but sometimes it may be several weeks depending on the client’s schedule. Some of the questions that I may ask may require in depth discussions and debate between those involved and takes time. The more the clients are in agreement up front about what they are looking for in their home, the easier it is when questions are asked and answers are provided.

Permit approval is dependent on the local building jurisdiction, which can be anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months. The HOA approvals can factor into the timeline as well, as they can have review periods that last from several to 6 or 7 weeks. Loan approvals and appraisals can have an impact on the time line as well, but often approvals are within the timelines of the other approvals noted above.

Do I need to prepare anything prior to our consultation?

Mark always suggest that the client start keeping track of ideas either in a scrapbook or a web page such as Pinterest or Houzz. These visual aids help him understand what their vision is for their home; likes and dislikes, features to incorporate into the design of their custom home, or if they have any partial floor plans of spaces that they liked. It is helpful to have a survey at the first meeting, but not necessary as he will bring a tax map of the property. If the client has a letter from their funding source, he would like that for his files. If a budget is designated for the project, or if clients do not have this he will assist them in putting this together. The client should know what their top dollar amount is and what they cannot go over so that they can convey this information to me. The final step is to come prepared with any questions they may have.