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Our Getting Started Checklist

Project Programing

What are the goals for your project? Below are suggested items to start thinking about:

  • Project Size – described in square footage, acres of land or number of items (parking spaces, horses, hospital beds, etc.).
  • Style – desired type of architecture or number of stories (single structure or a cluster of buildings).
  • Functional Requirements – specific things you want to include, such as: entertainment needs, access for elderly, hypo-allergenic materials, low energy use, etc.
  • Important Features – play areas for kids, a detached shop for projects, an art studio or having an open floor plan concept.
  • Finish Level – for example, wall finishes can range from textured sheetrock to Venetian (marble) plaster. Having a general idea helps describe the volume of your expectations.
  • Budget – sets boundaries for the total project cost. It is important to remember that there are many “non-building costs” (septic system, landscaping, roadways, etc.).
  • Time Frame – know your desired move-in date and any constraints or deadlines like weddings, births or school schedules.
  • Location – this sets the parameters of where the project will be built and can initially be defined as a certain spot on a property you already own, a valley or town or general region.
  • Site Selection – potential properties can be found through a variety of ways and walking the site usually starts the design process.
  • Building Layout – locations and orientation affect views as well as costs.
  • Infrastructure Needs – water, power, roads, sewer/septic, all must be accounted for.
  • Development Constraints – such as zoning and deed restrictions need to be verified.

Choosing a building style & key materials usually happens early in the process

  • Styles such as Tuscan, Southwest, Contemporary, Farmhouse, Georgian, French Country, Sea Ranch and Victorian can all be adapted to this region.
  • Structural materials include deciding on flooring, wall and roof systems. Wood framing, masonry, metal studs and concrete each have pros and cons in different applications.
  • Selecting surface materials on floors, walls, windows, ceilings and roofing complete the overall impression of the project.

Controlling the project budget is an on-going process requiring teamwork and communication

  • Feasibility estimates are “back of a napkin” budgets done to verify if a project is feasible, usually before the first financial commitments are made.
  • Preliminary budgets set the initial course for developing the project, when the basic parameters of location, size and style are known. They include breakdowns of variables like the non-building costs and major building elements.
  • Design progress budgets are often done during schematic design, design development and working drawing preparation, to explore options and make sure costs are staying within budget.
  • The contract estimate usually is prepared as the final plans are being reviewed by the government agencies. It should be highly detailed and include multiple subcontractor bids in most trades.
  • Changes are inevitable on a project, so accurate estimates of their impact on cost and schedule are vital to budget control.

Building your team does not have to be stressful, if you know what you need and what to look for

Selecting team members is foremost an issue of communication. Look for:

  • Evidence they understand your needs and priorities.
  • Compatible personalities that will help build a positive relationship.
  • Demonstrated experience in your type of project.
  • Meeting deadlines based on a track record.
  • References you can check to verify their claims.
  • Competitive pricing to get the most out of your budget.

Your design team may include: architect, interior designer, soils engineer, civil engineer, surveyor, septic engineer, structural engineer and consultants on special systems such as: energy use, audio-visual systems, lighting and technology integration.

Your builder (general contractor, construction manager or design/builder) leads the construction team. They plan, direct, coordinate and supervise the activities of subcontractors working on site and suppliers of commodities and custom items.

Service and maintenance contractors can help you keep your place operating at top efficiency and appearance once you take over the property.

The design process is a special blend of art and science, following time-tested steps

  • Initial scope and objectives are clarified first to get the project started in the right direction.
  • Preliminary ideas/sketches/options are shared between you and the architect to verify that you understand each other.
  • Schematic design is the first milestone. You review basic elevations, small scale floor plans and various alternative schemes to determine the heart of the design.
  • Design development is the process of fine tuning the design, incorporating the structural, mechanical and electrical systems and working out spatial relationships.
  • Working/permit drawings involve producing all the design details for contractor pricing and plan check review.
  • Clarifications and interpretations occur during the pricing and construction process to help the building team resolve construction questions for the optimum results.
  • Post-project evaluation of successes and opportunities for improvement is an extra step that JMA likes to take with the design team.

Contractual relationships develop with each team member

  • Single lump sum price is also known as “fixed price” or “hard bid”.
  • Time & materials plus a fee or “cost plus”, involves reporting all costs and adding a percentage or fixed fee on top of the cost.
  • Guaranteed maximum price puts a ceiling on the cost to the owner and may include provisions for the parties to share any savings below the maximum.
  • Design/Build uses a single source of responsibility for both design and construction, usually involving a designer hiring a builder or vice-versa. Some companies have the expertise to do both in-house.