tlw architect about links contact
projects philosophy services references articles
tim watson services

Design Services Description

This information is for the benefit of prospective clients interested in contracting
professional architectural services offered from TLW Architect.

Before contracting with TLW Architect, it is important that you understand the significance of each of the following seven main categories of service you are considering having us perform for you. In most cases, you will only need some, not all, of the services explained below. Your choices will affect the total cost for architectural fees, and it is therefore a beneficial cost savings to only use those categories of services deemed necessary to meet your project's objectives.

Pre-contract Services
Often our clients (referred to as Owners in this document) need assistance with determining if their project ideas are feasible. Before committing to a contractual relationship with the Architect, sometimes it is more time effective, and cost effective, to authorize having the Architect do initial research, perform a proposed project site inspection, or do other feasibility studies. This pre-contract service is performed on an hourly billing rate basis, and because of its inherently unpredictable time commitment, this work is usually not included in the Owner's overall budget for contracted professional fees.

Phase One: Schematic Design
Of all seven areas of endeavor, this is the most important category of service. Thus begins the creative process of thoughtfully defining the Owner's objectives, which are then translated by the Architect into what is known as the Programmatic Evaluation. This evaluation identifies the spatial size and area of the design, siting (location(s) of improvements needed to render the design accessible and operable), and the specific design objectives for the project. Once this initial evaluation is completed, the Architect is then able to begin producing schematic drawings intended to fulfill the design objectives identified in the Programmatic Evaluation. You may at this time want to refer to our “Residential Programmatic Evaluation” description for further information about what is involved with the Programmatic Evaluation process.

Because these endeavors are essentially a creative thought/art form whereby the Owner and the Architect seek to achieve a symbiotic fit between building(s) and their construction site, etc., it is not easy to forecast just how much time will be needed to achieve the objectives of this phase. Therefore it is best to determine a range of probable cost for services as mutually agreed between the Owner and the Architect in order to allow the Architect the flexibility of working on an hourly rate basis. This phase usually comprises from 15% to 30% of the total architectural fee for Phases One through Five.

Phase Two: Preliminary Design
Once the Architect is given the Owner's written approval (the Owner has signed completed and approved Schematic Drawings), “preliminary” drawings are produced which allow the Owner and Architect to examine in detail whether or not the ideas developed in the Schematic Design Phase are worthy of committing to production drawings. Input from specialists, consultants, and vendors can often affect the placement, sizing, and in particular the construction cost for any given component of the design. Ideally, changes to the design due to these factors are best done prior to committing to production of construction documents.

Thanks to work accomplished during the Schematic Design Phase, and prior to commencing work on this phase, the Architect is now able to identify the scope (amount) of work needed to complete his services. At this point it is often in the Owner's best interest to have the Architect draw up a Stipulated Sum Agreement for Architectural Services whereby a fixed fee for the remaining work is agreed upon. This phase of work usually comprises about 20% of the total architectural fee for Phases One through Five.

Phase Three: Construction Documents
Once the Owner is satisfied with completed preliminary design work, the Architect must then be authorized to proceed with the production of construction documents. Construction documents are usually produced either by use of electronic drafting (known as computer aided design drawings or CADD), or by hand drafting, depending on project needs. The first issue of these documents, along with specifications, is often referred to as a “pre-construction” issue. These drawings are intended to inform vendors, proprietary system providers (such as timber framing), and various consultants about the details of the design. These third parties then review the drawings, and offer their comments to the Architect and Owner. When appropriate, this same issue is given to a pre-selected General Contractor for construction cost evaluation. This procedure gives the Owner an opportunity to address any budgetary concerns before final construction drawings are produced.

Once revisions needed to coordinate all input from the above sources are completed, the Architect then issues “construction drawings”. The Owner signs approval of these completed documents, which are then used to secure final bid(s),  obtain a building permit and other approvals from the local governmental jurisdiction, and provide the basis upon which a contract for construction of the project can be established. This phase usually comprises about 35% to 50% of the total architectural fee for Phases One through Five.

Phase Four: Bid Negotiation Phase
For those projects which do not have a pre-assigned contractor, the Owner can elect to have the Architect assist with securing bids and secure a signed contract with a General Contractor, and other specialists the General Contractor agrees to allow outside of the Contract for Construction. This phase usually comprises about 5% of the total architectural fee for Phases One through Five.

Phase Five: Contract Administration
Once construction commences, the Architect will be available to review hidden conditions, assist with the interpretation of the documents, resolve questions, and assess the progress of construction work as requested by the Owner. One of the important advantages to the Owner when securing this phase of service is achieving an end-result which is more consistent with the aesthetic and conceptual intent formed by the collaborative work done by the Owner and Architect. All construction documents, by their inherent nature, are subject to interpretation. Whatever knowledge and skill the General Contractor and his assigns may bring to the project, there is always the risk of compromising the original intent of the design when unforeseen or unaddressable circumstances make changes necessary while construction is underway. Owners are best benefited by requiring the General Contractor to inform both the Owner and the Architect of any discrepancies, omissions, or conditions that require variance from the construction drawings.

In some circumstances, the Owner can minimize cost for architectural fees by not including this phase of work in their Stipulated Sum agreement with the Architect. Alternatively, the Owner can agree to have the Architect on call on an hourly fee basis to inspect the work or perform other related services during construction. This phase usually comprises about 10% of the total architectural fee for Phases One through Five.

Additional Services
During Phases Two through Five, if the Owner authorizes having the Architect perform work beyond that identified in the Contract for Architectural Services, the Architect will do such work on an hourly basis, and identify all such work prior to performing it unless otherwise agreed. Revisions to the drawings which are not the result of errors or omissions on the part of the Architect, Owner requests for changes in the scope of the project, and additional third-party coordination as authorized by the Owner are the most common examples requiring additional services.

We look forward to giving your project our best attention.

Site Review and Initial Recommendations

Evaluation of Existing Homes and Owner Designs

Residential Programmatic Evaluation

As an essential part of TLW Architect's Schematic Design process, it is necessary to first identify the scope of building improvements you, the client, wish to pursue at the inception of your project. To put it another way, what sized building area is deemed necessary to meet your project’s design objectives? And at what construction cost? The analytical process whereby this is determined is known as Programmatic Evaluation. Here are the basic steps used to achieve this evaluative:

1. We begin the process by your providing a list of functional uses necessary to meet the project’s design objectives. This list is sometimes known as a “Wish List” because it is not necessarily adhered to once the construction cost implications associated with the size and scope envisioned are better understood.

This “Wish List” often takes the form of an itemization of each room space, and the use or activity you associate with that space. Any information about the size of each space you are considering to build is also helpful. For example: “large living room”, or “small-sized kitchen”.

In addition to this information, circulation or location preferences should be noted whenever you have well-formed ideas about these particulars. For example: “average-sized laundry space near kitchen with window”. Your “Wish List” should also include any outdoor, or unenclosed spaces such as carports, porches, breezeways, verandas, etc.

2. Once you have given the Architect this information, the architect will then translate each “Wish List” item (along with additional outdoor spaces you have identified) into a square footage evaluation.

3. This work produces a numerical tabulation of the enclosed areas, exterior areas, and anticipated site improvements, along with any areas identified for demolition, if applicable. Each individual square footage approximation can then be assigned either a low cost, median cost, or higher end cost projection so that you can then see the effect each “Wish List” item, or aspect of the project, may have on the overall project’s construction budget.

4. Once the size, or scope, of the project is known, approximated total construction costs can be tabulated to see how the project size and costs are affected by your original “Wish List”. This information enables you to then, if need be, reconsider your programmatic “Wish List” so that it can conform with the overall project budget you have determined is acceptable. This process often finds our clients reassessing and prioritizing the importance of each “Wish List” item. Usually we identify three levels of prioritization: non-negotiable or highest priority, important but negotiable, and least important and therefore expendable.

5. Should a reevaluation be necessary due to either an over-sized area or over-budget “Wish List”, the Architect can assist you with making decisions that will produce a “Revised Wish List”, thereby bringing the project within a cost range you deem acceptable. A matrix of values is then documented using specialized spreadsheet software.

6. After reviewing the “Revised Wish List” as presented on this evaluation spreadsheet, you and the architect can arrive at agreed-upon limits of square footage area and construction cost ranges which meet your adjusted size and budgetary expectations.

Cost per square foot values are derived from recent construction cost information taken from comparable projects local to your building site. It is very important to keep in mind that normally, a margin of error of 10-15% should be allowed in the Programmatic Evaluation until later on, when it becomes possible to reassess cost implications based on a more detailed analysis of the project. Programmatic Evaluations can offer clients comparative low, medium, and higher construction cost evaluations. During ensuing detailed design work, the Architect will advise you as to whether each detailed design component will likely increase, not affect, or decrease the project’s cost. As design work proceeds, opportunities to further reduce the overall project in specific areas can be pursued at your discretion.


tlw architect