Archive Page 2

Things That Matter Most: Lessons Learned from a Boy and His Boat

There are times in a man’s life when he just needs to stop and focus on the things that truly matter most. This past August was one such time for me. My son Henry and I built a boat.

Yes… a real, wood, floating, boat. It was an amazing experience.

I posted the story of Henry’s boat over at the Entrepreneur Architect blog.

We’ve Made Room for a Few Friends (Space Available at Fivecat Studio)

We’ve made room for a few “friends”. If you are looking for office space, come join us in our centrally located Pleasantville studio.

The following “turn-key” spaces are available for lease starting immediately:

Two (2) workspaces in our open plan design studio. Each space is 7′ x 9′, with a custom built-in corner computer workstation (computer not included) and 7 linear feet of 36″ deep work space. The month-to-month lease includes utilities, internet access and shared use of our 1,500 SF open plan design studio; office equipment, meeting table, book shelves, sink, couch, large layout worktable, toilets, etc. Bring your laptop and get to work. Our “loft-like” open studio has 12′ high ceilings, hardwood floors and large windows overlooking Pleasantville’s Memorial Plaza. We will lease these workspaces together or individually. This is perfect solution for a sole proprietor architect, interior designer or engineer, but any business is welcome. Rent is $300/mo. for each space or $500/mo. for both spaces.

Private corner office. This private office is approximately 80 SF, includes two large windows, tall ceilings and overlooks the Pleasantville central business district. The month-to-month lease includes utilities, internet access and shared use of our 1,500 SF open plan design studio; office equipment, meeting table, book shelves, sink, couch, large layout worktable, toilets, etc. Bring your laptop and get to work. This is great office space for any businessperson requiring privacy with access to a creative open studio environment. Rent is $350/mo.

Fivecat Studio is located directly adjacent to the Pleasantville MetroNorth train station and is easily accessed from the Saw Mill River Parkway. Pleasantville is a thriving village with few vacancies available. This is an opportunity to be located with one of Westchester’s most successful architecture firms in one of Westchester’s premier business districts.

Email us at info@fivecat.com for an appointment to visit the studio or to ask questions about the available spaces.

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Introducing the “All New” Fivecat.com

The new Fivecat.com is beautifully simple.

In order to better present our work to the world, we’ve been busy developing some new online resources. If you follow our firm, you know well of our long-time online presence. We are very active throughout the World Wide Web, reaching out and introducing new fans to the work of Fivecat Studio. We are constantly improving your experience online and regularly update our profiles on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter.

We use each site to serve a very different function. Linkedin is a great way to stay connected to valued business partners, as well as past and present Fivecat clients. If you consider yourself in either category, please send me a request to connect on Linkedin. I’d love to stay in touch. If we’ve done a good job for you, please consider a recommendation.

We feed our Facebook weekly with mobile updates on current projects and “behind the curtain” news and information. I personally tweet throughout the day on Twitter with thoughts, inspiration and interesting links.

Although less active, this blog serves well for more developed posts on architecture and design, happening here at Fivecat Studio, throughout Westchester County and beyond.

In May we went back to our cyber-roots and relaunched an all-new website. The decision to relaunch was not a simple one. Fivecat.com is our homebase online, and our previous site was entirely designed, built and maintained in-house. It served us very well since starting the firm back in 1999.

With the arrival of omnipresent high-speed Internet access, it was time to redesign. With such a broad online presence, we wanted the new Fivecat.com to be a simple and “straight to the point” online portfolio. After searching many presentation alternatives, including overhauling the site again in-house, we were very happy to be introduced to liveBooks.com (thanks to the guys at BUILD LLC). liveBooks is a company that has built their reputation serving the professional photographer. Their sites are beautifully simple and exactly what we were looking for. The new Fivecat.com is built entirely around high resolution, high quality photographs (mostly shot by my brother, photo pro Scott LePage). Together with liveBooks, we developed an online experience that meets our very high standards. The site is easy to navigate and visitors are totally immersed in full color images of our favorite work. I hope you find some time to visit the site and leave a comment here on what you think of the experience.

We think the site looks great. liveBooks thinks so too. So much so, that they featured Fivecat.com on their Success Stories blog.

We have more news to share on new ways to experience the world of Fivecat Studio online. Stay tuned. We’ve been busy…

Now you can take Fivecat Studio with you!

Today, we launched our mobile website at www.fivecat.com/mobile.

Check us out on your smartphone or iPad. Then, send the link to your friends and help us spread the word about Fivecat Studio.

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.

Fivecat Christmas: The Holiday Card

Every October Annmarie starts sketching and developing her ideas for the annual Fivecat Christmas holiday card.

This year, come join our “furry family” on a winter adventure at the slopes of Fivecat Crossing.

To our extended Fivecat Family (clients, contractors, consultants and all our “fans” and “followers“… from everyone at Fivecat Studio, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy holiday season.

Download Fivecat Christmas 2011


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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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