Why hire an architect?

An architect will work with you through the complicated but exciting process of designing and building your home. We provide inspiration, guidance, oversight, and an efficient plan for working through this process. Our goal is to help put your dreams on paper and then assist you through the building process to have your dream house built in an efficient, cost effective manner. We believe this should be a fun and inspiring process for all.

Here is what the American Institute of Architects says about hiring an architect:

Few people realize how complicated it is to build – that is until they find themselves lost in the maze of design options, building codes, zoning laws, contractors, and so on. No two building projects are exactly alike so there is no single, clear-cut path to follow. The architect is the one professional who has the education, training, experience, and vision to guide you through the entire design and construction process, from helping you define what you want to to building to getting you the most for your construction dollar.”
– The American Institute of Architects, copyright 2001

Do I really need an architect?

For many small projects you may not need an architect, although it’s important to note that the City and County of Honolulu require an architect for projects over $40,000. However your home is probably your biggest investment. An architect will provide guidance and help you get the most aesthetically pleasing and functionally efficient result. During the construction phase the architect looks out for your interests and acts as a neutral third party between you and the contractor if conflicts arise. In addition the architect observes the construction, ensures that plans are followed, and ensures that you get the quality of product that you are paying for from the contractor.

Why hire a professional designer?

Interior Designers are trained to see the big picture, and their problem solving goes beyond furnishings and finishes! They analyze the space, review the options for present and future uses, create a road map and manage the process. A good interior designer helps the client with purchasing, managing contractors, and overseeing the budget. They act as a consultant to ensure you achieve what you want and what you need.

How much does an architect cost?

Architectural fees vary based on the complexity and work involved with a project. Without knowing any details on a project an architect will quote about 10% of the construction cost on new houses or commercial interiors and 10-15% for renovation work because of more unknowns. It is best to shop around. However don’t simply hire the cheapest you can find. An architect should be a good fit for your project’s needs.

An architect will bring added value to your project through the long-term benefits of good design and through experienced engineering methods and materials.

How much does an interior designer cost?

Interior Design fees are charged hourly, hourly + expenses, hourly with a not to exceed amount or flat fee depending on the complexity of the project. In order to make an evaluation a designer would need to meet with you to learn about your project and your wants and needs.

What to expect from an architect?

Design and construction projects involve several steps. According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), projects typically go through the following six phases. However, on some small-scale projects several of these steps may be combined, and on larger, more complicated ones, there may be additional steps. Keep in mind that an Architect’s services may be used in one or all of these processes and those fees will vary accordingly.

  • Program Requirements. Discuss with your architect the requirements for the project and determine the best approach to your needs, wants, and budget.
  • Schematic design/rough sketches. The architect will prepare a series of rough sketches or schematic designs that show the general arrangement of the rooms and of the site. The sketches must be approved before moving onto the next step.
  • Design and development/refining the design. The architect prepares more detailed drawings to illustrate other aspects of the proposed design. Floor plans show all the rooms in their correct sizes and shapes.
  • Preparation of construction documents. Once you have approved the design, the architect prepares detailed drawings and specifications; a contractor will use both of these to estimate construction costs and build the project. These drawings and specifications actually become part of the building contract.
  • Hiring a contractor. The homeowner is responsible for selecting and hiring a contractor, though the architect may be willing to make some recommendations. In most cases, homeowners choose from several contractors they have asked to submit bids on the job. The architect can help you prepare bidding documents, as well as invitations to bid and instructions to bidders.
  • Construction administration. While the contractor will  physically build the home or addition, the architect can assist along the way in making sure the project is built according to the plans and specifications. While the architect’s job does not necessarily involve the actual construction, he or she can and should make site visits to observe the work in progress, review and approve the contractor’s application for payment, and generally keep you informed of the project’s progress. Some general contractors do provide a project manager from their staff to oversee the project.

How to work with an interior designer?

Decide how the space will be used. Look through magazines, books, and online for images. The images can be a color, piece of furniture, or a picture that sets the mood. Clip the pictures that appeal to you. Think about the items that will be retained and reused in the room. This process will help you to more quickly communicate your preferences and needs. Establish a budget. Meet with the interior designer. Based on the images and the initial meetings, preliminary sketches will be produced. If you like the initial design, it will move into the drawing stage. If not the interior designer will work with you in refining the design.

How should I figure the cost of new construction?

Residential construction costs in Hawaii is can range from $150 to $200 per square foot in new structures and commercial interiors. However this figure will vary depending on the type of construction and level of finishes. If you use expensive finishes, luxury detailing or need substantial retaining walls constructed, the cost will be higher. It also depends on the contractor’s situation. During the bidding process bid prices will vary indicating the economy or the motivation of the contractor.

What does Owner-Builder mean?

Interior Design fees are charged hourly, hourly + expenses, hourly with a not to exceed amount or flat fee depending on the complexity of the project. In order to make an evaluation a designer would need to meet with you to learn about your project and your wants and needs.

Should I use steel framing in my new house, or stick with wood?

The advantage of steel is very minimal issue with termites. Over the years building with steel has come down in cost. The cost to build a steel frame house is approximately 10% more than wood. However wood can resist termites if properly treated and maintained with close attention. If you decide to build with steel, make sure you hire an experienced contractor. Most contractors prefer wood over steel.

Who should I talk to first: a contractor or an architect?

ou will need a team of both. It is always best to speak to an architect first because he or she will guide you through the process and put together a scope of work for the project. An architect will know the zoning restrictions, height and setback restrictions, structural considerations, and what your budget will allow. Home Planning Hawaii recommends contractors that are suited to you and your project. If you have spoken with contractors and would like to consider them, check their references and recent jobs.

What is Environmental Design?

Environmental design begins with site selection and building orientation. The environmental designer considers the impact of the site on the project and the project on the site. He or she considers what is appropriate for the micro-climate in terms of sun, wind and rain, and what is appropriate for the neighborhood in terms of style, privacy and noise control. These types of factors influence the design process on all levels, from the placement of large trees to the selection of building materials. The choice of appropriate materials and shapes can greatly impact one’s living environment as well as the durability of the structure. In addition, the environmental designer is aware of the value of using environmentally sustainable and non-toxic building materials.