Architect for Drawings Only
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Need architectural drawings for our house remodel
Hello - we are thinking about doing some modification to our craftsman home and I've gotten a few recommendations for Dorrice Pyle from friends/co-workers who worked with her in past years. We wonder if anyone here can give me a recent recommendation for her? We were told she's creative and fun to work with and can help us imagine how it will all end up looking once we settle on our plan... thanks for your help... sm
Dorrice Pyle did the architectural drawings for our sunroom/addition. We have only just started construction, so can't speak from 'the other side' of a completed project. Dorrice was indeed fun and easy to work with, and has a long creative streak and a can-do attitude. Our budget was stressed from the start or we would have seen more, I'm sure! We are working with a design/build firm which was going through some restructuring, and as we began, we were not too clear on the roles and relationships of architect/designer/builder/engineers/sub-contractors, etc... to the firm. Dorrice helped us put the concept to paper and coordinated with structural and soils engineers who provided further details, specs and drawings. She also dogged the city for weeks and worked her way through several recent and major code modifications which necessitated a few plan revisions. Berkeley homeowner
Is this a fair price for drawings?
Can anyone out there help with determining whether I've been taken for a ride by an architect? She charged me 74 hours (almost $6000) for the design phase and all she had to show for that is a few drawings. Is that normal? I hope someone with architectural knowledge can help me. Also if you have a good architect, please recommend. We will definitely terminate with this present one. Just trying to figure out how to proceed and what to do next. Thanks in advance for any help anyone can offer
Paying $80+ an hour for a licensed, experienced architect is a good deal. I think what it sounds like she failed to do was warn you about how much time it takes to do the work that architects do and give you a sense of the magnitude of the cost you were taking on. Good design is not free or cheap and good design can occur on ''a couple of drawings.'' It sounds like she prepared schematic elevations and perhaps as floor plan. If so she had to spend time meeting with you to figure out what you wanted, perhaps measuring your house?, establishing a base, sketching through a couple of ideas and then finalizing her schematic designs to give to you. That should cost $6000. Architects are highly trained professionals and should be valued.
It sounds to me that you didn't do your homework on hiring an architect who's style matched yours. Most architects will give you a proposal for their work so you don't get sticker shock in the end -- and this proposal should detail exactly what you will get for your money (for example, 3 diagrammatic concept ideas, 4 schematic elevations, floor plan, etc.... depending on the job.) Make sure you get this before you hire your next architect. The AIA website has consumer information on this as well anon
Architects are NOT cheap. Do homeowners really think they can hired a licensed architect, licensed landscape architect, licensed structural engineer, electrical engineer or anyone else holding a professional degree and certification for next to nothing?
This architect you hired is essentially only billing you $6000/74 hrs = $81/hr. She is cheap! Principle architects charge $150/hr! Perhaps you should have hired her with lump sum payment instead?
I cannot attest to the quality of the drawings she gave you, but most homeowners don't seem to understand the complexities involved in designing a house.
With the fee includes consultations with other disciplines including but not limited to: structural engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, City planning staff (making sure she is designing something that will NOT get you into trouble with the planning department), landscape architects, HVAC, etc etc etc! Not to mention, sitting down and actually drawing the drawings.
She will also be signing her name to the drawings and attesting that she has followed all codes and regulations and that the building is structurally sound.
$81/hr is a small price to pay to be guaranteed that you are getting a set of drawings that are up to code and will not fall on your head.
Now, if you don't like HOW she designed the house, then you should be negotiating changes and costs.
And, when you signed the contract to hire her, you should have (if you did not), discuss design fees, design changes, and expectations! If you had done all of this, I am surprised you are surprised with her bill! Unless you had discussed a ''not to exceed'' cost, of course her design fees will change, especially if paid by the hour, with changes you request. Bewildered
Adding a floor - Architect who charges flat rate for design only?
Can anyone recommend a local (Berkeley) architect who will meet with us, get a feel for the project/design goals, create a design consistent with the current style of the house (of course we would pay for revisions) and make drawings, charge their fee and be done with the project? We are going to add a floor (lift current house, and fill in a new first floor) to our typically small Berkeley bungalow (built in early 1900's), and want to find someone with experience doing this type of project. We are going to do this project on a small budget, and we don't have the money to pay the typical 20% charge of the entire project that it seems most architects charge. We would consider someone just starting out trying to build portfolio. Everywhere we look in our neighborhood, it seems like many people have taken on this type of project, so please, Anyone who has done this type of project please chime in on how your experience went, especially on timing, and how to get through the maze of city planning department/permitting issues, is it worth the strain on marriage, effects on property taxes, anything you learned during the project that you wished you knew when you were getting started, we would especially love that type of advice. bigger digs soon
Hello--we're owners of one of those everywhere-in-the-neighborhood bungalows that went through a lift the house/rebuild the first floor/add another floor on top remodels a few years ago. For what you're hoping to do with your home, I doubt you will find a capable architect who is willing to do this for a flat fee (but I could be wrong). And with all the complexity the project demands (city planning/permit roadblocks, structural design issues, strain on marriage, skyrocketing property taxes when you're done--all of which we experienced during our remodel), you don't really want someone who is just starting out trying to build portfolio, believe me. You want someone who has done this before and is a pro at foreseeing problems, troubleshooting, and navigating the system.
We used Levitch and Associates (in Berkeley) to do the design of our home and get us through the permit process. They are very good--and are also not cheap, but you get what you pay for. I'm not a native Chinese speaker so I can't attest to the validity of this, but in my middle-school Mandarin language class, we learned a saying: ''Expensive things are not really expensive; and cheap things are not really cheap.''
BTW, we didn't have a boatload of money to fund our remodel either, but are glad we paid the money for Levitch and Associates to do the design work for us. Clarisse
I am in the middle of this type of project on my own house, the only difference being I am an architect so I didn't have to find one. My advice is to give yourself lots of time and patience to get through planning & building. It took us about a year and a half from start to finish for permits. We had a couple of special circumstances though - we have a creek on our property and we are in a landslide zone. It hasn't been a huge strain on the marriage (yet) and we have 2 children and are living in the house as it sits on cribs. What has saved us lots of money is being our own general contractor - probably about 30% in construction costs. Our neighbors are doing a large renovation and they wish they had done the same thing so they could have more control over the project. It was a little scary at first, but after talking to general contractors, we felt we knew as much as they did. They seriously charge a huge amount just for coordinating other contractors. If you want to save on architects fees, make sure you know exactly what you want and don't give the architect a lot of room for ''options'' - all of this will get billed. I know this is why people hire architects and I love doing it, but it really is a luxury. It may be a good idea to sketch out what you want, then a good architect will be able to refine that and make it work. I could recommend Daniel Morago who can be reached at dpmorago [at] sbcglobal.net. We worked at the same office for a while and now he's on his own doing projects just like yours. d
Although you asked for a Berkeley architect, I would like to highly recommend our San Francisco architect who designed our 8- month Oakland remodel. Larry Friesen, with Friesen Architects (415-642-5520), was tremendous in all respects. He is very creative and designs to match the period/architecture of the house. We had a challenging project -- we gutted about two- thirds of the house, moved a staircase, moved our living quarters to what had been a carved-out basement -- and Larry developed the design in a very effective iterative process, taking into account our budget constraints.
You didn't ask for a contractor recommendation, but I'll throw in a recommendation. We worked with Martin Fink, House to Home Construction (925-935-3466). Martin and Larry have done many projects together, so we felt like we had a great team.
We completed our project over a year ago. The project was relatively pain free, and we love our remodeled house. norma
We find ourselves in the situation of perhaps needing to remodel one bathroom (leaking problem) and realize that in order to feel we've spent wisely and are happy with the outcome, we need a master plan for remodeling other aspects of our house. We cannot afford right now to do all of the work we'd eventually like to do but don't want to have to redo in 2 or 5 or 10 years things we do now. You recommendations would be greatly appreciated! drl
We also wanted a thorough master plan before tackling a remodel of our mid-century modern home in Orinda. We had a lot of repairs to make (HVAC, electrical, roof, rats, oh my) but wanted to make sure all changes were made with the eventual goal in mind. We also wanted creative and rigorous design ideas to improve the house -- it had potential, but had been thoughtlessly remodeled for 40 years.
We hired Envelope Architecture + Design in Oakland in 2003 and they drew up an amazing, thoughtful, stylish master plan. We've been working with them on and off as we implement it in phases. They are great young guys with an incredible eye for design, creative solutions for problems, and kindness and patience (important with the inevitable stress of remodeling). If you admire modernism, I highly recommend them.
Envelope Architecture + Design 510-839-0140 http://www.envelopead.com/
-- Nicole R.
We recently had architectural drawings prepared for an addition to our Colonial Revival home in Berkeley. We used Milton Tong (510) 435-2303. Milton was extremely responsive to our requests and accurately matched the existing architecture. Milton explained everything that was necessary for the project, asked questions that we would not have thought of and was very timely in completing the project. Milton worked well with our contractor as well as the structural engineer that we needed for the project. Milton is also very conscious of costs related to the project.
Milton is very professional and very client orientated and I think is an excellent architect. I would highly recommend him for other for work. If we have another project or a friend were in need of an architect we would definitely use/refer Milton.
We would highly recommend Milton for architectural needs. Eddie