Archive for the 'Architecture' Category

Expect a Huge Problem With Your Renovation

The design is complete and you LOVE the plans for your house revised. The bids were all within budget and your building permit is hanging in the front bay window. You’ve hired the best general contractor around and the sun is shining. Life is good.

As construction begins on your renovation project, remember one thing… Expect a HUGE problem!

With every renovation project we complete, something unexpected occurs. Renovation is unpredictable. Thirteen plus years of experience has taught us to expect the unexpected. Every Fivecat Studio project is guided by a documented process that includes the expectation that something bad is going to happen. Something hiding under that thick layer of wall plaster will be completely different than we expected… and that’s OK, because we expect that.

When providing construction management services, we include this “surprise” in the construction schedule and a contingency fund in the budget. We set the expectation with our clients and explain that the contingency is part of the budget. It’s not a separate “emergency fund”. The money will be spent, we just don’t know yet where, when or on what. When the expected-unexpected occurs, we are well prepared to handle the situation with professionalism and without crisis.

Did you expect the unexpected? Click “comment” above and share YOUR stories of renovation surprise.

5 Rules to a Successful Architecture Project

You dream of a home where everything is as it should be. There’s room enough for each member of your family to have a space of their own and a great social kitchen adjacent to a space where the whole family comes together.

You dream of a house that’s just “big enough”. It’s not too large and not too small. It will have traditional authentic styling with innovative contemporary details. It’s a house for a modern family.

Your savings account has finally met the goal set so many years ago. You have built up your courage and have decided… it is time to make your dreams come true.

Whether your dream is a new house or your home, just better, there are five rules to every successful architecture project.

1. Find a compatible architect. The firm you select to design and guide you through your project can break your bank or make your dreams come true. Spend the time to find the right firm for you.

Meet with several firms and trust your instincts. Is “the vibe” right? Are the personalities of the people you meet compatible with your personality? Does it “feel right”? It matters. You’ll be spending several months with these people and trusting them with your savings. You don’t want to be dealing with someone you don’t like.

Find a firm that provides complete architectural services. They should help you consolidate and coordinate your ideas, develop them into a proper solution, prepare a thorough set of construction documents and assist you in getting the project built. Don’t skimp on services thinking that you’ll have more money to spend on your project. The best projects are fully developed and built with the architect actively involved in its construction.

Don’t shop for price. The old tenet holds true when hiring an architect, “you’ll get what you pay for.”

2. Be Prepared. You’ve been thinking about your project for years. You’ve been planning it and walking through the spaces in your head. It’s already yours. It just needs to be built.

Be prepared though. With a talented architect, the designs presented may be very different than what you expect. A skilled architect will use a process of pre-design discovery to learn what you like, what you don’t like, what you need and what you hope for. The designs developed will be what you want, but surprisingly, very often they’re not what you expect.

3. Budget enough. This is the single most important piece of advice I will pass on to you. Be realistic with your budget.

Buildings are expensive. For most of the additions and alterations projects in our portfolio the construction costs range from $250.00 to $300.00 per square foot for non-kitchen floor area. Our typical kitchens range from $400.00 to $500.00 per square foot. (Use these numbers as a “rule of thumb”. Every project is different and construction costs vary.)

Projects with unrealistic budgets take months longer to develop, rarely meet expectations and often end with disappointed clients. By far, our most successful projects are with those clients who have budgets that are compatible with their projects.

4. Be honest. Don’t be secretive with how much you really want to spend. Incrementally expanding your budget throughout the development, or worse, throughout construction, may result in a clumsy, awkward design lacking the integration and order that results in a well-developed design. Your project will be infinitely better if your architect designs with your complete budget in mind.

5. Trust. Let your architect do what they do best. Trust them. You will not be disappointed. Looking back at our portfolio of projects, our happiest clients granted us their trust.

Our training, experience, talent and skills as licensed architects allow us to design projects that not only meet our clients’ requirements, but very often exceed their expectations.

Handing someone your hopes, dreams and life savings is not easy, but if you follow the rules listed above, granting trust to your architect will result in a successful architecture project and your dreams finally coming true.

A Modern Shed

Last year we were commissioned to restore and renovate a fantastic 1969 Modern glass house in Chappaqua. When we completed that project, the owner asked us to work on two more little projects; a storage shed and a fence enclosure for the existing pool equipment.

They’re not quite 100% yet, but I thought I would share a few progress images. Our photographer is scheduled to shoot photography of the exterior this summer. So, we’ll post more then.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Project Update: 761 King Street

A multi-phase residential project, 761 King Street is progressing well. The snow has delayed the stucco installation, but much of the interior is nearing completion.

We have been working with this client since late 2004. A master plan was originally developed for a new entry porch, a new family room / kitchen and a new accessory workshop.

A few years back, we completed the entry porch. The family room / kitchen project is currently being constructed. Hopefully, the workshop will follow soon after the completion of the current phase.

This home was originally part of the Ginsberg Estate. The Ginsberg family owned a large tract of land at the south end of Chappaqua. The main house was lost to fire, but 761 King Street and 718 King Street both remain. These two homes were the private “cottages” for the Ginsberg sons.

About 10 years ago, we completed another multi-phase project at 718 King Street. You may check it out here and here.

Update: Montauk House 021411

We just posted a few progress photos of John Whalen’s latest project in Montauk over on our facebook. The framing is just about complete.

Be sure to “like” us while you’re there, so we can keep you updated on our latest news and updates.

Jen’s Community at Wildcliff

Our latest project… a new LEED certified restoration of an 1850′s Alexander Jackson Davis Gothic Revival manor house overlooking Long Island Sound. It’s the future home to Jen’s Community at Wildcliff; a new sustainable, nature-based nursery school.

Check out our facebook for more images; vintage photos and current conditions.

Stay tuned for updates and progress.

The Most Beautiful Homes in Westchester

Have you received your Fall issue of Westchester Home yet? Not me… It might be in my mailbox though. I’m sure the kids will check in the morning while we’re waiting for the school bus. They do every morning.

Well, yesterday, my brother Scott (who also happens to be my architectural photographer) received a Google Alert for Scott LePage Photography, which lead him to this.

We are very proud to have our Lake Katonah project be selected as one of The 10 Most Beautiful Homes in Westchester. WOW!!! That’s what we said.

We feel very honored.

***

Thanks to Julie and Il for inviting us to be a part of this amazing project and thanks to Scott for a great photo.


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Living Well in Westchester is a trademark owned by Mark R. LePage, AIA, LEED AP | © 2006 - 2013 Mark R. LePage, AIA, LEED AP | All Rights Reserved.

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