Why should I hire S2R Architects?
Short answer: Because we are great problem solvers, professional, knowlegible, innovative, creative and honest among other things.
We are normal hard working people who are also licensed professionals. We are easy to talk to and our office has an open door policy. You are welcome to stop by to discuss your project (just call so we know you are coming since we might be out on site visits).
We are licensed architects who know the Virginia, DC and Maryland area well. We have many successful projects in the DMV including residential, commercial and renovations. We had 155 projects in 2018 and as of August 2019 we are on track to have more projects this year. We solve many architectural problems and challenges throughout the year and we can solve yours.
Our principal architects received top education by completing Masters of Architecture from one of the top recognized architecture schools Virginia Polytechnic University.
We are knowledgeable in Engineering and Construction. On staff we have specialty professionals, Class A Contractor, Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical and Structural knowledge.
We have regular interactions with our builder clients and other professionals who give us knowledge on latest products, costs of things and any challenges that help us deliver you more cost efficient and better project.
We use tools to help you visualize your project by creating it in 3D and we have other capabilities to help you achieve your vision.
How much does S2R charge?
Short answer: We provide highest level service for a fee that is between highest and the lowest.
Our fee is calculated based on many factors such as the type of project, scope of work, scale, complexity, location, jurisdiction etc. Our price is very much dependent on information you provide for your project, typically existing drawings, plot and images are helpful.
You may speak to us or better yet come to our office for a free consultation, bring drawings you have and we will discuss with you what it will take and how much it will cost to do the project.
Remember that Architecture is a service profession, meaning just like doctors and lawyers you hire us to provide a service to solve a problem of having your project designed and permitted. Would you ask a doctor to give you a treatment plan without examining you? Come talk to us and let us examine your project so we can give you the best solution.
It is a good idea for us to see the existing conditions of your project. This will allow our expertise to spot any challenges you may have with the project including constructability, code issues and cost. This will also allow us to give you a more precise quote. Our site visit is also a good opportunity for you to ask questions to a professional.
We can come to see the existing conditions for small fee which is credited back to you if we move forward with the project.
How much will my project cost?
Short answer: Unless you are an experienced professional then probably more than you think.
We are more knowlegible on costs than other architects since we have a Class A contractor on staff and we deal with builders. We can certainly give our cost opinion but remember that we are Architects not Contractors and we are not giving you a quote to build the project; We can give you our opinion but it should never be quoted.
You may ask us how much your project will cost and our answer might scare you but it is closer to reality than what other architects may say, don’t let that scare you into going with another architect. Your project will still cost that or even more since that architect is most likely clueless about costs. Would you rather be told now or be surprised by cost after you start construction?
Generally contractors will give you a high price if you do not have construction drawings, they overestimate for unknowns. Ideally you want to have S2R Architects complete your drawings that way you can have contractors give you price based on drawings and not speculations. This is the best way to get a more accurate price.
Here is why cost is higher than you think:
Everyone is building and there is a big demand for labor right now. It is also hard to find good laborers such as brick layers so the cost of labor drives prices up. Many good laborers are also retiring and not many new laborers are entering the industry.
Cost of materials has gone up for 31st straight month as of August 2019. Material costs keep going up.
There are many rich companies like Amazon in our area who are paying a lot for their projects so the cost of building keeps going up because of demand.
Many jurisdictions in our area are very demanding of architects and contractors because of over-regulation and code requirements. This means Architects and Contractors have to devote more labor to the projects. Places like Washington D.C. , Motgomery and PG Counties cost more to build in because of those reasons.
Most of cost is dependent on materials you choose. General rule of thumb is to price labor 2-3 times the cost of material. For example if you are buying floor tile that you would like to install in your bathrooms for $3000 than the contractors price might be around $6000-$9000. More labor something takes the more it will cost. For example it takes more labor to do brick than siding so it costs more.
Reducing size or height will not necessary reduce cost of your construction. Reducing floor high on a 2 story building will not reduce cost as drastically as you think. Neither will reducing your bedroom by 6 inches. Reduction in cost comes mainly with material costs. It is like buying apples at a grocery store, you pay only slightly more for a bigger apple but you pay a lot more for an exotic apple that takes more labor to grow.
Do not let all that scare you, you hire us to help you achieve your dream project and we will work with you on coming up with cost-efficient solutions to complete your project. Contractors love our detailed drawings and are generally produce a better product because of that.
How long will the permitting take?
Short answer: no one knows
Single family residential projects generally are much faster than commercial projects.
Permitting is something nobody in the profession can guarantee. It is up to the government municipality to review the project and approve it. We are with you on this and it is unfortunate that counties take a long time to review projects but it is entirely our of our hands.
Recently we have noticed increase in permitting time in our area and across the country. This is mainly due to counties being swamped with projects, lack of qualified reviewers, increase in regulation and change of codes.
Because of shortage of professionals the counties are forced to hire reviewers who are not even licensed architects or licensed engineers. This can result in comments that can delay your project. We sometimes see projects receive generic comments that are not related to the project almost as if reviewers want to buy more time to review projects.
Projects generally receive review comments that we have to correct as part of our fee. This is a normal process and we have to take time to correct drawings for reviewers as they require. We have been noticing in recent years that permit departments have increased and unnecessary comments which increase permitting time.
Each municipality operates differently and have different reviewers. Some municipalities take longer than others. DC PG and Mongomery counties take longest of all in our area to get the permits reviewed. Be prepared to wait a long time in those counties. We have seen even small renovation projects take 6 months to review in those counties and review times are increasing every year.
What can you do to speedup the process:
Hiring an expeditor may sometimes help you speed up your permitting process just be sure they are good and provide services like filling out paperwork for you.
You can keep asking them and keep contacting the county if they are taking excess time to review drawings. We have had clients who had success going to the permitting department to nudge them in order to get the project approved faster.
What is a typical home project process?
Each project is a bit different and we are flexible but generally it goes something like this:
We would meet with you in our office to go over what you need to do, be it new house or addition. Bring a plot/drawing with you and a rough plan/idea what you would like to do including style and size of your future home. You may also elect to have us visit your property before signing the contract for a small consultation fee.
We will give you a cost and a contract to sign. Deposit is due before we begin any work.
We would then need to survey existing conditions by measuring and taking pictures. Including inside and outside.
If you have not provided us a plot we need it before we begin design. We need it to determine setback requirements and how high can we go with the house. Setbacks vary per county and other regulations.
We would then generate a layout and schematic design for you to review and make changes as required.
Once design is complete we move ahead to create permit construction drawings and have them printed as required by the county.
You would pick up the drawings and sign any paperwork required from our office for you to submit to the county as home owner. Our payment is due when you pickup the drawings.
Civil/Site Plan portion of building permit is currently not done by S2R, we can recommend someone but generally you would hire someone to do that portion of the permitting.
Generally Architectural permitting process is faster than civil/site plan.
Any comments from the permit review we correct as required by the county. And print sheets for you to resubmit as required.
Most work after that is done by your contractor and you would work with them. We can answer limited questions otherwise experienced contractor should be able to handle everything from there. We provide additional construction administration for an additional fee, we can discuss that at beginning of the project.
Remember that original design by us is intended to meet code and requirements as we discussed. S2R Architects are not responsible for any changes done by the contractor that do not conform with the original drawings.
We may visit your project to see construction progress and may take record pictures from time to time. We may take professional photos after project is complete which we can share with you free of charge.
Design and construction are complicated matters, we will work with you to come up with best solutions possible as we work with you on your project.