For most people, the construction or remodeling of a home represents one of the largest single financial investments of a lifetime. Chester Architecture is the right choice to lead you through the design and construction process. As planner, designer, mediator, coordinator, business administrator and counselor, Chester Architecture will contribute real and lasting value to your home project as well as the creative artistry that will help you to bring your dreams to fruition.

Chester Architecture designs projects in a variety of styles. We believe that it is your project and our responsibility to incorporate your ideas into a creative and practical solution that will satisfy your needs and desires.

We will provide you with a list of past client references if you desire. We can also arrange tours through some of our past work. However, we do respect the privacy of our Clients and this is only arranged with those Clients that have previously agreed to marketing tours.

The Process

The design process for a typical small commercial or residential project involves six phases.

  1. Programming (Pre-Design Services):
    In this initial phase Chester Architecture will work with you to determine what to build and establish a budget for your project. (Your program is actually the "problem" for which we will work with you to develop a "solution.")
  2. Schematic Design:
    Based upon your program and budget, we will develop an initial design solution, establishing the project's general arrangement and appearance. This and the Programming Phase generally represent about 20 percent of our total fee.
  3. Design Development:
    Design development will account for 20 percent of our fee. Based upon your acceptance of the Schematic Design we will continue to develop and refine the design solution and work with you to select and determine the construc-tion and finish materials. Your budget will be revised to reflect any changes and we usually like to review the budget with a contractor at this phase.
  4. Construction Documents:
    By this phase your work in helping to conceive and develop the design is largely complete. Chester Architecture will prepare detailed drawings and specifications that can be submitted for permit and that a contractor can use to determine final construction costs and to construct the project. At this phase we update the budget and provide any value engineering that may be needed to meet your budget goals. The Construction Document phase of the work accounts for 40 percent of our typical fee.
  5. Bidding & Negotiations:
    This phase comprises 5 percent of our typical residential fee. Using the Construction Documents, we will assist you in obtaining either competitive bids or negotiated proposals from qualified contractors. If the contract is negotiated, the contractor may also be selected as part of the team during the Design Development Phase.
  6. Construction Contract Administration:
    Chester Architecture will prepare the contract for construction with the builder. The typical owner-architect agreement calls for the architect to function as your representative with the contractor during construction and to visit the construction site at appropriate intervals to observe the progress and overall quality of the work. The architect will also receive the contractor's applications for payment and certify those applications for payment to you or your lender. This final phase accounts for 15 percent to 20 percent of the architect's total compensation, Initial Interview: During the initial interview, we will ask detailed questions about your requirements for the project (design objectives, limitations and other criteria), your budget (available funds and financing considerations) and your schedule. We will use your responses to test the fit between the key parts of the project-program, budget and schedule and recommend adjustments to assure a successful project.

Although variously expressed, the formula of Quantity x Quality = Cost remains constant within each and every architectural project. As the client, you determine two of the variables, and we will work with you to complete the equation. For example, if you want a 4,500-square-foot house (Quantity) with expensive, custom details (Quality), the construction cost will be quite high. However, if your construction budget for the house is only $100,000 (Cost), and you can't compromise on the Quality, then your dream home may have to be considerably smaller than you're expecting.

It's all too common for architects and owners to speak past each other when discussing an initial project budget. Many owners fail to account for the numerous hidden and additional costs that are included in a total project budget (such as professional services and other fees, site work, landscaping, furnishings, and floor and window coverings), and many architects tend to think of budgets solely in terms of a construction budget (the cost of the building itself). Utilizing a detailed budget worksheet throughout the process can serve as a reminder to the architect and the client of the project's total cost.

While there are many presentation media through which architects communicate design concepts, the most important thing is that you and your architect have a mutual understanding of your expectations. Today, some architects electronically compose three-dimensional models and animations that visually walk you through the conceptual space. Sometimes the best solutions are arrived at through a process of sketching, discussions and revisions. In the best relationship, an architect will work closely with you to give form to your ideas.

Remodeling and Home Design