Introducing Robert

use this

 

I’m very excited to be a part of a young and innovative firm… and in my own neighborhood of Capitol Hill too! I was born in suburban Chicago, but grew up in the desert southwest. I achieved my undergraduate degree of Arts in Architecture at the University of New Mexico, and then a Masters of Architecture at the University of Colorado at Denver. I’ve been witness to a myriad of architectural styles, driven by climate, ethnicity, and culture and quickly understood that I wanted to be a part of both creating and preserving them for future use.

I’ve always been transfixed by the idea of time. Entropy, I like to say, is my ultimate foe. As a builder, I simply don’t like things that fall apart. There’s a timeless beauty to period style, be it “modern” as in ‘of the present time’ or “Moderne” as in ‘Art Deco’. Like the clothes we choose to wear, the buildings we inhabit are moments of time preserved.

Styles change, people change, buildings change with the times. Here at Board & Vellum, it’s my duty to make sure they don’t fall apart too soon, or without notice. I am a caretaker of the built environment, and a curator of the things that last. I abhor the cheaply-made, disposable, and ubiquitous.

nobic

I enjoy being an active member of Historic Seattle, the National Trust and Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and am HOA President at the Betsy Ross Condominiums, a wonderful 1928 Colonial Revival abode. You can find me on the weekends at antique shops, Red Light Vintage Clothing, or thrifting in whatever neighborhood I happen to find myself. I also manage an Etsy store called AnalogDigital, offering retro and vintage paraphernalia (mostly kitchen and barware now, but ever-changing and growing!) from the 1920s through the 1980s. ​

I love that each house (and client) is unique, and the projects I’m involved in likewise receive a personal touch of paramount importance. I look forward to working with you!

 

Ada’s: A Burst Of Light and a custom mobile

Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe, a project very near and dear to us at Board and Vellum, will have been open for almost six months at its new location on 15th.  It’s amazing to walk-by everyday (our office is less than a block away) to see how much love Ada’s is getting from people in the community.  One of the more fun details to have worked on and designed is the custom mobile that hangs above the cafe space.

mobile

When we set-out to work on the interior elements of this revitalized house, we couldn’t ignore the amount of light that filled the space once the walls were built and the skylights and windows were installed. While, most coffee shops and libraries have a reputation of being cozy, but dark–Ada’s is a burst of light in both worlds.

In this early rendering, we knew we wanted something up high in the cafe space but weren't quite sure yet what that should be

In this early rendering, we knew we wanted something up high in the cafe space but weren’t quite sure yet what that should be

We loved the idea of walls lined floor-to-ceiling with wood bookcases stacked with technical books and scientific artifacts. Owners, Danielle and David Hulton, had no problem filling the custom-made shelves with  books, but we all agreed that Ada’s new space was the perfect setting to juxtapose the old with the new, scientific methods with innovative ideas, and the heavy with the light.  

To achieve this effect and to help visually lower the ceiling in the cafe, our team designed a custom mobile and hung plexi-glass sancwiches off of the mobile arms.  The different opacities of plexi-glass were made to look like extension of the library– floating like clouds of information that make you feel smarter just sitting beneath them.  It was a great low-cost and high-impact feature that really helps activate the entire space.

Here Jesslyn from Board & Vellum and Danielle Hulton work on assembling the mobile before opening

Here Jesslyn from Board & Vellum and Danielle Hulton work on assembling the mobile before opening

 

Here, the various pieces of the plexi-glass sandwiches await assembly
Here, the various pieces of the plexi-glass sandwiches await assembly
Ryan and Jesslyn work at piecing together the mobile

Ryan and Jesslyn work at piecing together the mobile

 

Here at opening day, crowds can be seen mingling under the mobile

Here at opening day, crowds can be seen mingling under the mobile

Our team had a great time assembling the mobiles in the newly finished space, one night before the soft-opening. Danielle and David had more than a few books selected from their personal collection and we made our way through the stacks, preserving pages that visually stood out and represented the, ‘it’s cool to geek out’ vibe that Ada’s makes you feel the moment you step through its doors.  You’ll even notice that some of the drawings up in the mobile are drawings from the actual architectural set.

It is details like this that really helped make this such a special project for us and the neighborhood.  Next time you pop in, take a look up and see just how special this place really is.

mobile

Board & Vellum is hiring again

If I wake up today and hear “I’ve got you Babe” on my alarm clock I’ll know that I’m living in an architectural version of “Groundhog Day” but until then, I have a deja vu announcement.  Board & Vellum is hiring again and looking for awesome people.  Here’s what we are looking for:

Come and join in on staged meetings like this one.  We point a lot.

Come and join in on staged meetings like this one. We point a lot.

Board & Vellum is looking for an awesome person to work with us as an Intern Architect / Job Captain on a variety of residential, retail, commercial, and multi-family projects.  We value flexible working hours, treating each other with respect, having fun, maintaining a work/life balance, bad jokes, and speaking in language our clients can actually understand.   We’re a growing firm (7 people) and we all need to get along.  Your personality and attitude will be more important than your skill set.  Still, skills are obviously how we do our jobs so please aim to be have the following qualifications:

  • Have a B.Arch or M.Arch degree
  • Minimum 3 years of experience
  • Currently working on your IDP hours
  • We work with a variety of smaller to medium sized projects so be comfortable with projects of that size.
  • Familiarity with Seattle codes and permitting is key
  • Experience with single family residential work is a must
  • Desire to work on retail, commercial, and multi-family projects.  Experience in multi-family is an important bonus.
  • Good grasp of assembling contract documents
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Desire to be involved in every phase of office projects
  • Proficiency in AutoCAD, Sketchup, and Adobe Creative Suite
  • If you know REVIT that gets you double points as we’re moving that way
  • Ability to render by hand and with VRay
  • Be self-proficient and able to handle multiple projects and tasks

We offer competitive salary and benefits, excellent schedule flexibility, and an office of pretty damn great people to work with.  Our office is on Capitol Hill in walking distance to all the fun stuff you want to do.  Compensation commensurate with professional work experience. Please send cover letter (we really read them), examples of work, and your resume to: jeff@boardandvellum.com Please no phone calls regarding this position.

What do Architects’ acronyms mean?

Architects love Acronyms and abbreviations. No, that isn’t quite true; we absolutely love them and rely upon them. All of our drawings and documents are filled with them. Still, as much as they’re engrained in this profession, I absolutely can’t stand them. They’re confusing, mysterious, and do nothing to help us communicate with the people we serve.

Here's a typical architecture drawing with a smattering of acronyms and their actual meaning

Here’s a typical architecture drawing with a smattering of abbreviations and their actual meaning

The interesting thing about architecture is that while everyone thinks we are designers and detailers, what we truly are when you look at the root of everything we do, is communicators. Our drawings communicate our ideas to clients and contractors and our specifications communicate the myriad other details we can’t draft. Our job should be to make that communication as clear and straight-forward as possible, but unfortunately things like acronyms help build a wall. It ends up being very “Us vs. them” and if you have a timid personality you’re often likely to assume you know what an acronym means instead of asking. And you know what they say about assuming things! As my Mom was so fond of saying, it makes an ass out of u and me.

As much as feasible we try and pull out as many acronyms as possible in our drawings. Sometimes they can’t be pulled out for a variety of reasons or sometimes we just forget (as they’re so engrained already in everything we do that you can often gloss over them) but our mission is to eliminate them from our discourse. In the meantime, though, here is a quick little summary of some of the more common acronyms used by Architects so you can start to feel a bit more informed when someone speaks to you in “Archi-speak”!

AFF – Above Finish Floor – this is an acronym commonly used in dimensioning. If you see a note saying ‘8’-0” AFF’ it means that whatever is being referenced is 8 feet and zero inches above the surface of the finished floor (whatever you walk on) in that room.

AIA – The American Institute of Architects. This is our professional organization that supports our profession, lobbies for us in the halls of government, and supports a variety of local and national events. You’ll see this after some Architect’s names (like mine) which signify that they are members of the organization. Contrary to public opinion, while it does mean that the person with “AIA” after their name is a licensed Architect, it doesn’t mean that someone without “AIA” after their name ISN’T licensed. You can still be a licensed Architect without being a member of the AIA.

ALT – Alternate. This means that something should be provided as a separate line item as an alternate to what is otherwise drawn.

CL – Centerline. Often the “L” is drawn overlapping with the “C”. This will be found on dimensions and ensures that whatever is being referenced is pointing towards the centerline of something.

CMU – Concrete Masonry Unit. These are concrete “blocks” (did someone say LEGO?) that are stacked to form walls both for buildings and landscape walls. They are typically reinforced with rebar during construction and often stand-in for poured concrete.

EXIST – Existing (often shown as just an “E”). This means something is existing and not to be touched.

GC – General Contractor. This is someone who builds your project and hires “sub-contractors” to perform specific work (electricians, plumbers, etc.).

OFCI – Owner Furnished and Contractor Installed – This is an instance where a client will purchase something but will have the contractor install it (like appliances or closet systems)

NTS – Not To Scale. Anything drawn with a “NTS” next to it means that whatever you do you should not get a physical scale out to measure anything. Read the text and ignore the dimensions and relative relationships of what is drawn. This is often done on drawings where it isn’t worth the time to revise them but you still need to convey the information.

RFI – this is a “Request For Information” and is sent from the General Contractor to the Architect (typically) and is just what it sounds like. Typically there’s information needed to complete a detail or order something.

RO – Rough Opening. With things like windows and doors the hole made in the framing to accept the window and door is always bigger than the actual window to allow it to be put into place. The space between the window and the opening is shimmed with little bits of wood to make it plumb. Typically this is only 1” or so bigger than the actual dimension of the physical door or window.

TYP – this is one that I do actually love even though I need to get rid of it (but it fits really nicely in our text for dimensioning). This stands for “typical” and means that if you see this listed once it means that everything else like this has the same note or dimension applied to it.

WC – Water Closet (a toilet room). Typically a Powder room with a sink but every now and then I see a true “WC” with a door and a toilet…and that’s it. Well, probably a really nasty door knob as well.

W/D – Washer and Dryer. Nice and simple.

There are a slew more (a quick web search found over 3,300 of them! Whoa!). We include some on our cover sheet of our drawings and if you’re interested, here’s what we print and what some more acronyms are! We’ll never get rid of these pesky acronyms (which, of course, often mean different things in many different professions to add to the confusion) but hopefully we can help broaden the understanding between Architects and everyone else to make this whole process far more transparent and accessible.

Here's a partial list of some of the acronyms you'll see in Architectural drawings

Here’s a partial list of some of the acronyms you’ll see in Architectural drawings

Celebrating three years of Board & Vellum

Things right now are pretty exciting at Board & Vellum but one of the most exciting milestones to celebrate is that it has now been three years since I left my job as an Associate with the awesome people at GGLO to start this company. To say it has been an eventful three years would be an understatement for sure. When I started I certainly had a plan but I couldn’t have imagined where I (now we) would be in three years. Back when I started everything, II worked up in my attic and held meetings in my dining room.  I had taken a big cut in pay to go off on my own with the hope that it would pay off.  I remember once when I had 5 small projects at once and thinking that was pretty insane.  I think I even had a romantic vision of me working away on a little backyard cottage project and taking Tuesdays off to go skiing when the slopes were empty.

Thinking of that vision now it is almost laughable.  After a few weeks of trying out that slow-paced and romantic vision of an Architect I would have died of boredom.  I don’t really do well with sitting around.    Board & Vellum today is a very different place than when I put together my first IKEA desk in that attic.  Now we are:

We are overdue for a photo with all of us in here (hi Alev!) but here's us in our office pre-expansion

We are overdue for a photo with all of us in here (hi Alev!) but here’s us in our office pre-expansion

  • Our team is 7 amazing people strong
  • We have many more than 5 projects on the table from super small (bathrooms) to very complicated new homes across the country.
  • We have moved twice and are now doubling our office space and should be good for many years to come (famous last words?)
  • We have grown the work we do into multiple markets and we spent a good half of our time on retail, commercial, and multi-family projects.
  • We finally have a bunch of office standards to guide us in how we work.  Cowboying it worked for the first year or so but now we actually know where to look for guidance.
  • We’ve picked up a  good deal of press (something that was never an actual goal) and this year alone we’ll have several more articles come out including some great national press.
  • We still have fun.  I absolutely love coming to work every day and I aim to make Board & Vellum a place where everyone who works here is comfortable and feels empowered.  Just like we have our clients back, everyone one of us who works here has to have each other’s back.  ’A rising tide lifts all boats’ is something we live by.

There’s lots to be excited by and consequently, life around here is as far from boring as I can imagine. Things evolve but the fundamentals have had to stay the same and I’m very proud of that.

Part of that process of seeing how things evolve is completing our strategic plan for the next few years.  I was able to step back and see what has been working in what we have done to grow us to where we are now.   Mixed with a bit of luck and determination it has served us well and I know it will continue to do so.  Here’s where our efforts are focused.

  • Stay focused on our client needs and ensure that we act in their best interests.  When I say that we’re your advocate I really try to make sure that impacts everything we do.
  • Remove the ego from architecture.  I’m not your typical Architect and I’m more interested in making your project awesome for you than something that is a design that I want.
  • Write and communicate to our clients and not to other Architects.  I don’t actually have that many Architect friends, contrary to many other Architects I know, and I think that has been a good thing.  I do this work to interact with my amazing clients not just talk shop with other Archi-nerds.
  • Keep our overhead low.  We need to be competitive with other Architects in terms of fee and part of that is keeping our overhead costs low.  This has become more challenging as we’ve grown but so far we’re still on track even with our upcoming office expansion where we will be doubling our space.
  • Probably most importantly, work with outstanding people.  In some ways the particular skill set of the people I work with is a less important than the quality of people.  I’m beyond fortunate to work with truly exemplary people.  Knowing that we all have each other’s back makes the work we do that much better.
  • Keep our personalities front and center.  Generic Joe Architect isn’t someone I want to be.  You’ll continue to hear about LEGO, random geeky things, and all of our personal lives.

Looking forward I have a good vision of where we will be in the next 3 years but I know enough to be flexible so we can evolve and grow.  After all, if I hadn’t taken some risks early on I’d still be working up in my attic.  And while I would love to go skiing every Tuesday, I can say that the alternative I’ve helped us all build has been pretty damn incredible, snow or no snow.

I can’t say enough that I am thankful to all of our amazing clients and the people we work with for your continued support in helping our clients realize their dreams.  It is one hell of a job.

 

To Certify or Not to Certify: Is it a Question?

There are enough green certifications out there to make your head spin: LEED, Passive House, Living Building Challenge, Earth Advantage, Built Green, Energy Star, Built Smart….the list goes on. WHAT does it mean when a project is certified? And WHY would you want to certify your project, or purchase a building that is certified?

        

The national US Green Building Council LEED standard and the local (King & Snohomish Counties) Built Green program use an easy to understand checklist format, covering all aspects of the building from site selection to materials. Meet a certain number of criteria worth a certain number of points, attain a level of certification. Programs like Passive House require that specific energy targets be met, like a maximum air leakage and maximum heating and cooling demand. Energy Star Certification calls for certain efficient HVAC systems, efficient lighting and appliances, and building envelope. The Living Building Challenge is a straight forward performance standard requiring such benchmarks as net-zero water and energy. Most of these programs require third party verification and energy modeling for higher ratings.

Standards such as LEED have been criticized for capturing low hanging fruit. Yes, of course, we should continually be striving to build more sustainably, but we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Some may argue that drastic changes in how we build are needed, and this is true, but the building industry is a large ship to turn, and any improvement is a step in the right direction. Even little adjustments translate into environmental gains when they catch on and become more mainstream (A previous motto of Built Green was “imagine if everyone did”). How many people had heard of low-VOC paint a decade ago? Now you can buy it in any hardware store.

If you are building a home: should you certify? If you are striving to build green, yes. The truth is, you could do it without a certification. But considering how small a fraction of the overall cost a certification will be, it’s worth it to stay on target and enjoy energy savings and improved indoor air quality for the life of your home, in a addition to all of the external environmental savings. Look at it this way: we need guidelines and discipline. What is a more effective way to lose weight, saying “I am going to eat better” or planning your meals, making grocery lists, making a list of banned foods and packing your lunch? If you don’t have guidelines to meet in attempting to build green, chances are other priorities will take over and green intentions will be value engineered away.

If you’re in the market: certification programs usually have maps or list of certified projects. Built Green has a handy map, with some entire neighborhoods certified. You can search for LEED certified buildings by project type. A certain level of certification ensures that the building performance has been tested by a third party, so the hard work is done and you can move in and enjoy the benefits. The work of greening the MLS is underway, so that Realtors can identify homes with green home certifications. Built Green certified single family homes and townhouses held value better than their non-certified counterparts. (For a comprehensive analysis of this prepared by the other Hamilton, see this PDF report).

If you’re happy where you are: most certification programs have guidelines and options for remodels and retrofits. Virtually all older homes could benefit from some sort of energy retrofit. After all, “The Greenest Building is the One Already Built.”-Attributed to architect Carl Elefante.

Introducing Alev

Alev Seymen

I’m truly thrilled to start a new adventure with the Board and Vellum team! It’s so inspiring to be surrounded with young and energetic professionals who are excited about what they do and are open to new ideas!

Growing up on the Aegean Coast of Turkey, my first memory of being immersed in architecture is playing “hide and seek” in the ancient Red Basilica in Bergama. But it was later, when in 7th grade I read a novel with an architect heroine, that I made up my mind to pursue this career.

After high school, I moved to Seattle to study architecture at University of Washington. I have worked in various project types from Art installations, restaurants, malls, to corporate TI’s, and even  a high-security prison… Finally, I have found my passion in residential design, where architecture interacts with human behavior in the most intimate manner. Before joining Board and Vellum, I have worked in a small firm for 8 years, focusing on both architecture and interior design of high-end custom residential homes, where I gained experience on challenging sites and programs, working with sustainable design ideas (such as green roofs, water retention, hydronic heating, etc…), working with contractors and artisans, and helping owners understand and be in control of the design and construction process.

I live in Phinney Ridge with my husband Tolga, our son Atlas and our dog Fruko. I love to cook with friends – but without recipes, throw parties, and travel to chase the sun. When we are home, we are always doing “projects” from making macaroni necklaces, to growing tomatoes, or re-doing our Kitchen!

Home Indoor Air Quality

Chances are, you have been spending a lot of time indoors this winter, whether in rainy Seattle or snowy everywhere else, maybe curled up on the couch watching the Olympics. It’s a good time to evaluate your indoor air quality. As architects, we take great care in making sure new buildings have quality air, but existing homes might need a DIY audit. There is most likely some low hanging fruit that can be easily fixed. For more serious issues, you’ll want to call in a professional, like an Industrial Hygienist,  to assess the concentration of pollutants. Even small factors can contribute to dangerous indoor air quality (IAQ), which can make you sick.

take a tour of Care for Your Air

The EPA example IAQ House.

Look out for:

  • Visible mold growth
  • Popcorn ceilings (possible asbestos)
  • Lead paint
  • Rotting or wet structure or insulation
  • Whole house fans that may have been disconnected. Regular ventilation is very important in today’s tighter houses, especially ones that are tight enough to gain a green building certification. Non-toxic interior materials should go hand in hand with tight homes.
  • The plastic or new car smell, which can come with manufactured wood products (and can be terrible in manufactured homes and trailers) and vinyl flooring, for example.

Whenever you get any new materials installed, or if you move into a new house, be sure to keep the windows open and ventilate for a few weeks. I may be a little paranoid, but I recommend this for the purchase of new furniture, electronics, and mattresses also. New textiles may have been stored in formaldehyde and should be washed before wearing or using.

Stop sources of indoor pollution:

  • Keep it dry. Add a ventilation fan if you don’t have one. Shutting off rooms in the winter may seem like a great way to save energy, but in damp climates this can encourage mold growth–not because of the temperature, but because indoor heat is usually dry. If you find your indoor heat is too dry, add a humidifier (or just place a vase of water by the register) but be sure this is not making your home too humid.
  • Run exhaust fans when cooking and after showering. Use fans or open a window when using nail polish remover or other harsh chemicals.
  • Stop using chemicals to clean. Here is a great guide to getting started from Mommy Greenest. Vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean most things.
  • Take off shoes when entering the house–this is especially important if you have small children who are all over the floor. Think of all of the pollutants that come into contact with your shoes–and other super yucky things.
  • Avoid using candles or air fresheners, unless you are certain they contain no VOCs.
  • Add a chlorine filter to your shower head.
  • Watch for intake air that may be carrying cigarette smoke, wood smoke, or other pollutants from outside.
  • Dry-cleaning is a necessary evil for some. Before putting newly dry-cleaned clothes in your closet, take off the plastic and let them air out in the bathroom with the ventilation fan running.
  • If your garage is attached to your house, never open the man door to the inside while a car is running.
  • Carpet can hold on to some pretty nasty allergens and critters. Annoyed by how dirty hard wood floors can look? Well, all that dirt is in your carpet too, it’s just hidden. If someone in your family has problems with allergies, chemical sensitivities, or respiratory issues, replace carpet with hard surfaces, and vacuum area rugs often.

Regular maintenance:

Further reading:

IAQ guidelines for homes from the EPA

EPA Indoor airPLUS Program

The Stages of Architectural Design

The biggest question we get when meeting with new clients who haven’t worked with an Architect before (aside from “how much does it cost?”) is always about how the process works. What are the stages of architectural design and what happens at each phase? The answer also helps explain the response to the common question of “can’t you just do a super quick sketch, you know, nothing fancy?” I’m never offended by the question because there is such a lack of knowledge of what it takes to design, document, and permit well-designed buildings, but it does really highlight the poor job Architects have done communicating what we do (and how far from “quick and simple” it really is!) and the value behind it.

I’m obviously a big proponent of hiring an Architect to get the most out of your remodel or project as the end result is usually far superior than a project where someone just “winged it”. I think the work that we do at Board & Vellum helps differentiate liking the place you live or work and LOVING it.

So, what the heck do we do to create a space that you’ll LOVE? Here are the steps along the way

PRE-DESIGN

This is a sun diagram showing the site and how the new addition will look for this particular project.  As part of the pre-design process we pull together zoning and code summaries and determine what will work best for your house and property.

This is a sun diagram showing the site and how the new addition will look for this particular project. As part of the pre-design process we pull together zoning and code summaries and determine what will work best for your house and property.

This is where we assemble all of the parts and pieces and figure out what our big picture options are from reviewing zoning and building codes. We produce full code summaries and do the research required to determine what our design parameters are. We will also do some initial site research to confirm solar angles and any other site specific conditions so we can hit the ground running during the design process. These parameter areas will tie into the program that we’ll be establishing at this phase (what rooms and features you want).

AS-BUILT MEASURING

During the As-built measuring phase we measure all aspects of your floor plan to create a blank slate to work off of. We include copious notes for all aspects of the house so we can ensure accuracy.

During the As-built measuring phase we measure all aspects of your floor plan to create a blank slate to work off of. We include copious notes for all aspects of the house so we can ensure accuracy.

Once we’ve got all the basics covered, now we’ll head out and measure any existing buildings so we have a set of plans to sketch over and use as the basis for our drawings. We go out and measure the existing building and drawing it in the computer to create ”as-built drawings.” This as-built set of drawings will then serve as an accurate base to begin sketching design alternatives

SCHEMATIC DESIGN

During Schematic Design, we will work together to come up with numerous plan and interior concepts that will help shake out the things that you like or don’t like.  We will develop a “kit of parts” that will be used to make the final plan the ideal layout.  This plan is an example of a Schematic Level plan (not all plans will be rendered in color, however).

During Schematic Design, we will work together to come up with numerous plan and interior concepts that will help shake out the things that you like or don’t like. We will develop a “kit of parts” that will be used to make the final plan the ideal layout. This plan is an example of a Schematic Level plan (not all plans will be rendered in color, however).

This is where the real fun begins! Basically this is the dream to reality stage where we figure out what design works best for your site and budget.

All of the ideas are on the table and now we start sketching several design alternatives based on the mutually agreed upon program (what rooms and features you want). The entire process is iterative as several options are presented at the beginning, and then based on the owner’s feedback, reworked until a particular design direction emerges. Drawings will be loose, drawn at 1/8” = 1’-0” scale (often by hand), and often be fast and loose. It isn’t uncommon to have a roll of trace paper out in a meeting and work with you in real time to tweak plans based on you feedback. Once we have an approved direction, we move ahead with what we call the “Schematic Pricing Set” which includes plans, sections if applicable, elevations, and a basic outline specification (list of everything that can’t be drawn at this point). With this set we’ll be able to enter the next phase and find you a contractor!

BIDDING

Comparison spreadsheets like this are assembled from the different estimates so we can accurately compare “apples to apples”

Comparison spreadsheets like this are assembled from the different estimates so we can accurately compare “apples to apples”

Now that we have a basic set of drawings without too great of an investment in time or fee, we send out those drawings and solicit feedback from some contractors which we help you select. Using our drawings, contractors will produce preliminary budgets based on our drawings and we’ll use that, their references, availability, and experiences to help select someone to work with. They’re retained for services during the rest of “pre-construction” and used to help update the budget in real time as the project becomes more finalized. Some folks like to bid out the project much later in the process but we strongly feel there is tremendous value in having this team member on board as early as possible. We get along with General Contractors and recognize that while we are good at budgeting, they are outstanding at pricing things with real market costs.

Once a contractor is selected we jump into “value engineering” to ensure that we’re spending your money wisely, even if we’ve hit the budget target straight on. We’ll make a comparative spreadsheet to help go through all of the line items and ensure that your money is being spent in smart and efficient ways in every category.

DESIGN DEVELOPMENT AND PERMITTING

Permit drawings are very specific documents that enable jurisdictions to review the proposed scope of work and ensure that it meets Building and Zoning Codes.  Board & Vellum is well-versed in permitting processes and will help guide the project through. Drawings such as this complicated steep slope site plan and construction mitigation plan are plans we are able to provide.

Permit drawings are very specific documents that enable jurisdictions to review the proposed scope of work and ensure that it meets Building and Zoning Codes. Board & Vellum is well-versed in permitting processes and will help guide the project through. Drawings such as this complicated steep slope site plan and construction mitigation plan are plans we are able to provide.

Now that we have a General Contractor on board and a final design direction, we need a permit! Given the lengthy review processes with many municipalities we move ahead with all of the required drawings for a building permit concurrent with the full interior design of your project. Once we’ve got the concepts down we produce a set of permit drawings and submit them to the City. Detailing, interior elevations, and material selections which aren’t necessary for a permit set happen in the next phase. We often produce a full 3D model of the project here to help finalize all of the design decisions. We’ll also do extensive coordination with a Structural Engineer contracted through us to complete the engineering and detailing of the project.

CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS

Construction documents like these contain a lot of information that helps construction move smoothly and take less time.  Even for a relatively small step there are dozens of hours spent in coordinating details, finishes, and products.

Construction documents like these contain a lot of information that helps construction move smoothly and take less time.
Even for a relatively small step there are dozens of hours spent in coordinating details, finishes, and products.

Once we’re in for permit we then jump ahead to finalize the rest of the documents and tie everything together into a set that will be built from (which will be consistent with the permit drawings, just with more information). This phase includes design refinements of the approved design development documents, in particular the refining of construction details. The construction documents shall set the detailed requirements for construction of the project so it can be confidently built by a contractor. Final material and product selection/revisions will usually occur during this phase as well. This phase is typically the longest and most fee-intensive out of all of the phases as there is so much coordination and detailing to do. This phase helps distinguish the barely thought out projects that you see from many production builders to fully custom homes that look incredible.

CONSTRUCTION OBSERVATION

During construction, Board & Vellum will help the Contractor understand the details of the drawings, confirm they are installing the correct materials and building things properly.  A smooth construction project always has a unified Architect, Owner, and Contractor team.

During construction, Board & Vellum will help the Contractor understand the details of the drawings, confirm they are installing the correct materials and building things properly. A smooth construction project always has a unified Architect, Owner, and Contractor team.

It is now time to build! This phase includes the design services provided during the actual construction of the project. These services include site visits to observe the project during construction, phone calls and other communication with the contractor and consultants as questions arise, and creating additional construction detail drawings when needed. Material and product selection is finalized during this phase if not previously selected. A final walk-through with the owners occurs at the end of construction, with the creation of a “punch list” for final contractor touch-ups.

This is a critical phase for the Architect to be involved in as it not only ensures that things get built the way we drafted them (a bigger problem than you would imagine) but there will also be numerous issues that pop up that either haven’t or couldn’t have been anticipated. Detailing every single condition in the construction documents is extraordinarily time consuming and there reaches a point of diminishing returns where it is simply cheaper, faster, and more efficient to verify some details during construction. If this phase wasn’t selected there would either need to be a drastic increase in the fee for Construction Documents or an acceptance that the project hat you just spent time and money designing won’t come out the way you hoped.

TIME TO MOVE IN!

So, that’s how we work! Some projects are smaller and we may combine or omit some phases, but in general this linear process works on all projects of all sizes. It is a precise way of helping make sense of what could otherwise be a confusing and haphazard process of using creative energy to produce very specific set of documents.