Where it all begins...
It starts with a conversation. I always like to meet a prospective client in person, at my office, in a relaxed environment. We chat for a while, and get to know each other a bit, and discuss how they came upon our firm.
Then we embark upon a discussion about why they are here. What are they looking to achieve? We discuss the general programmatic requirements of any project initially with our clients. We review the property and examine the Municipal Zoning code restrictions. We try to understand how they envision their project taking shape on the property. We then discuss their budget, and what their immediate, as well as long term goals are with respect to their budget. We try to understand their timeframe for the execution of their project, what encumbrances there might be in the way of municipal approvals, and if their timeframe (in our eyes) is realistic and achievable, and describe how we see the project coming together in terms of time frame. We spend more time chatting, getting to know each other and understand a bit about their family (or in the case of a Commercial venture, their business). We also try to get a feel for what unique opportunities and challenges a potential project might offer our firm.
Then we discuss whether we are the right firm for their project, which is the most important decision. And this is critical to the success of any project, as we are collectively about to embark on a new relationship. Who might the other members of our team be? Is there a Contractor they have in mind, or a Designer or Landscape Architect they have worked with in the past that might make up part of the team? In this new relationship, our clients are going to entrust in our firm their time, energy and money. We want to make sure, regardless of the potential financial implications, that we are the right “fit” for each other, to ensure their investment reaps the best possible outcome.
Once retained, my colleagues and I visit the project site to study it in terms of Solar orientation, Potential views, Topography, Mature or significant plantings or trees, Context of the neighboring homes, as well as a review of how the zoning implications might impact the development of the site. With a firm understanding of the Site, we reconvene with a client to begin to develop what I like to call a “visual vocabulary”, which will inform the basis of our design. We all use words like “Traditional”, “Modern”, “French” or “Italian”, yet to each of us, those words conjure up an image unique to that individual. I’m not interested in whether your understanding of what makes a home “Classical” is in fact accurate, I’m interested in what image that word portrays in your mind. We look to develop a library of images, marking on each one what it means to our clients, as this will become the “Dictionary” for our collective use throughout our project.
We spend some time researching prototypical Archetypes of the building style our client wishes to move towards, not to become slave to it, but to fully understand it. I firmly feel you cannot intelligently abstract from a particular style unless you truly understand what characteristics make it unique. And then……….we sketch. I’m a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to sketching, as I firmly believe there is a tactile quality to drawing and the relationship between the hand and the brain that is lost when using a computer. So we develop concepts and loose sketches both in plan, and elevation to establish a basis for our design. When we hit upon a concept that warrants merit, we develop it, and let it ferment a bit. Once we feel confident that we have a realistic and potentially viable solution to discuss with our clients we develop an initial presentation, consisting of plans and images of what the building will look like. We use furniture in our plans to help a client understand the scale of the spaces represented in a drawing. We understand that while we may look at a plan, we can smell the paint on the walls, our clients conversely, may have a difficult time translating the two-dimensional presentation into a three dimensional reality. We encourage you to ask questions, and take our time to walk you through the project, step by step, until we feel confident that you have an understanding of what we have developed for you. We then ask you to take it home, and think about it a bit.
We continue this dialogue throughput the Schematic Design process until we collectively feel we have the basis to develop the design further. We then embark on the Design Development phase where we continue to develop the design in all facets to ensure that we have a solution that is not only aesthetically pleasing, and meets all your functional requirements, but is also realistically buildable within your budget. This process continues until you have a full understanding of the Design in its totality, and are confident that this is the reality you wish us to create for you.
At that point we develop the Construction Documents. The Construction Documents are a highly detailed “Instruction Manual” that will call out in particular exactly how to build your unique building. Together we have developed a visual understanding of what the building should look like, inside and out when completed. However it is the Construction Documents that will ensure that the finished product not only meets you expectations but exceeds them. We use the same exacting approach for the Interior of the building as well, as we develop designs and Construction Documents for every aspect of the Interiors, from floor patterns to built-ins and cabinetry details, nothing is left to chance. We continue this seamless approach to Design in the integration of the Exterior “hardscape” of the project as well, integrating terraces, retaining walls, walks and drives into the design.
We assist you with vetting perspective Contractors, and facilitate the bidding process. We assist in obtaining the Approvals form the Local Municipality, and follow the project completely through the building process. We will be with you from Pinterest to Punchlist, to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your project.
We develop lasting relationships with clients and have dome multiple projects for most of our clients. We want the building process to be as enjoyable for you as possible. We never want you to be intimidated to ask questions or pose thoughts, after all its your investment, and we want to be sure you fully understand and appreciate how your money is being invested.
So there you have it……….let’s get started.