Frequently Asked Questions

Do you practice “green” architecture?

Yes. The issue of sustainability has always been a priority in my practice, and is in fact an inseparable component of my design process and my personal philosophy.

It is unfortunate that the term “green” is presently being so misapplied and exploited that its meaning is being perverted. (Just how “green” does that energy-efficient big screen TV make a new 5,000-square foot McMansion, built on former farmland that is an hour away from one's office?)

Suffice it to say that any architect worth his salt has always been a proponent of durable, climate-specific detailing, energy conservation, and simply making the most out of existing structures. It’s what we used to just call common sense.

This recent article in the magazine Fine Homebuilding does a good job of keeping these concepts in perspective.

What if I just want a set of blueprints?

An essential distinction of my practice is that my product is not a set of blueprints, but rather, my service, which is a systematic process through which my clients achieve their architectural goals.

Although the production of construction documents (or “blueprints,” in common parlance) is an important component of my work, that part of the process cannot be performed separately.

How large is your practice?

I am a sole practitioner. Having practiced for over two decades in firms of various sizes, I find that this affords me the greatest opportunity to provide my clients with the ultimate in personalized service, and with the exceptional attention to detail that their projects deserve.

How much do you charge for your services?

The fee charged by architects for custom residential work typically amounts to around 15 to 20 percent of the cost of the construction work. I encourage my clients to understand that the architect’s fee is, in reality, a relatively small component of the total cost of their project—and yet it is an investment that reaps huge benefits.

Like that of most architects, my fee structure is based on the particulars of each project—its scope and complexity, and the specific needs of my clients. I will be pleased to discuss this in more detail during your initial consultation.

How can I find a good contractor?

It goes without saying that enlisting the services of a competent contractor is crucial to the success of any project. Recommendations from friends and neighbors can be helpful. I am also frequently asked to recommend potential contractors based on my previous experience with them, and I have cultivated good working relationships with a few fine contractors over the years. I customarily assist my clients in interviewing and selecting a contractor, and then later in soliciting a proposal from him.

Can you assist me in selecting a home to purchase?

Yes, I welcome the opportunity to assist my clients in assessing properties for potential purchase. While this service is not a substitute for review by a professional home inspector, I am pleased to render my opinion as to a property’s suitability for my clients’ needs. This analysis can also prove invaluable in terms of identifying deficiencies, opportunities for changes and improvements, and the ramifications of applicable building codes and zoning regulations.

Does it make any sense to renovate my home in phases?

Economies of scale generally result in it being least costly to perform all anticipated construction work at the same time. That having been said, many of my clients, based on budgetary or other considerations, choose to pursue their renovation project in a series of phases and over a period of years. Although this can be a logical and perfectly appropriate course of action because it fulfills their most immediate needs right away, in such cases I generally advocate what I refer to as a “master planning” process. In this approach, my clients’ needs are carefully analyzed in the customary manner, and a design is crafted which encompasses all contemplated construction in its final form. The beauty of this approach is that because it anticipates the design in its entirety, focus is maintained on the big picture, but also on means by which the construction process may be most logically divided into phases. In this way, economies are realized by laying the groundwork for certain aspects of future phases in advance, such as by roughing-in plumbing lines for a future powder room while framing is still exposed. Equally importantly, potential missteps that might require expensive alterations to previous construction work in a later phase are avoided, for instance by planning doorways to a future addition from other portions of the house.

Will I also need to hire an interior decorator?

No. Because of my holistic approach to design, the specification of all interior building finishes, paint colors, and lighting is a fundamental part of my work. It is important to understand that developing appropriate basic furniture layouts within rooms is an essential part of my design process. Beyond this, I am pleased to assist my clients (upon request) with the selection and purchase of new furnishings, upholstery, carpeting, window coverings, and the like.

Will I also need to hire a kitchen designer?

Absolutely not. Again, because of my holistic approach to design, the development of customized kitchen workspaces that are both beautiful and functional is fundamental to my design process, and this is an area in which I have significant expertise. The specification of cabinets, countertops, and appliances is included in my services.

Do you also design new residences and commercial projects?

Yes. Although the majority of my current work involves renovations and additions to existing older homes, I also welcome the opportunity to design new residences, shops, small offices, and similar projects.

Isn’t maintaining a beautiful garden a lot of work?

Not really. While out tending to my gardens, I am tickled by the compliments that I often receive from passing neighbors, who almost invariably then ask, “Isn’t that a lot of work?” They seem surprised to hear that no, it really isn’t. For many homeowners, the drudgery of mowing the grass is an unavoidable weekly chore throughout the growing season just in order to keep their uninspired lawns looking half decent— assuming that they are also paying attention to regular watering and fertilizing requirements. In contrast, because of the design of my garden and careful attention to the selection and location of its plantings, maintenance can for the most part be performed at my convenience and as my schedule permits, and it consists mostly of some weeding, light pruning, and the watering of vegetables. While I do invest in a few relatively intensive sessions each year, primarily in the early spring and late fall, the temperatures are generally mild then and the work is far from unpleasant. For clients who would love to have a beautiful garden but who would like some instruction in and/or assistance with its maintenance, I am able to recommend the services of garden maintenance professionals who are attuned to this approach.

How long will it take to establish a beautiful garden?

Trees are almost always important elements in my garden designs, and mature trees create a sense of presence that is unrivaled by any other design element. However, the maturation of trees takes place in a timeframe that is so much longer than that of the humans who tend them that it is advantageous to plant them at the earliest opportunity. In part for this reason, I will often recommend a “master planning” approach to the development of gardens, whereby a well-conceived design is established, and then the various elements are installed systematically (and affordably) over a period of time, often beginning with trees. Because the overall framework for development has thus been established, missteps are avoided, and yet opportunities for embellishments and extemporaneous expression are preserved as the composition evolves.

Can you recommend a good book on the process of working with an architect?

An excellent book, and one that has become “required reading” for my clients, is How to Work with an Architect, written by my dear friend and mentor, Gerald Lee Morosco, AIA. It provides clear insight into the way in which architects think about their projects and their clients, and it delves in great detail into many of the concepts that I have touched upon here. I had the pleasure of working as Jerry’s associate for ten years prior to establishing my own practice, and I am proud to have been the project architect for many of his projects that are so beautifully illustrated in this book. Copies can be found in local book shops and libraries, and are also available online.