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Ask an Architect – B&V Blog Highlights – Board & Vellum

Ask an Architect, Commercial, Custom Residential, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture

Ask an Architect: Highlights from The B&V Blog

Our blog has always been a way for us to pull back the curtain on what we do as architects and designers: to advocate for our clients and help anyone learn a bit more about how we do things. This is a collection of highlights from the past few years, all in one place!

October 18, 2018

When I started Board & Vellum, I thought hard about how to carve out a little niche in a crowded field of design firms in Seattle. Searching the web, I found lots of beautiful photos on the portfolio websites of design firms, and plenty of “Do It Yourself” information from sites that were anything but design firms. There were a few great websites giving out information tailored for other designers, but very little information written by architects specifically for clients, especially for clients who might be new to the process.

The opportunity to fill this void paired well with my desire to advocate for my clients. I found that by peeling back the curtain on the mystery of what designers and architects do, I could carve out a little spot for the firm and help out the greater community.

With that mission, we have written a lot of content over the years. Now, it seemed like it’s time for a post that corrals some of our “greatest hits” for people new to Board & Vellum and what we offer.

While our firm has grown to include not only architecture, but also a landscape architecture studio, and an interior design studio, and we've expanded across a wide variety of project types, our mission remains the same: to advocate for our clients and help anyone learn a bit more about how we do things.

So, if you’re new to us and what we do, we thought we'd pull a few classics together for you all in one place.

Answers to Your Questions, from The B&V Blog

Do I need to hire an architect?

Many clients come to us with very small projects when to compared to something like a whole new house, but it is still a very big and important project for them. We often get asked if they even need an architect. Or, maybe you’re simply looking for some advice on your project? This post will help you figure out what sort of professional help you need. Take me there!

Should you pick your architect based on style or service?

Remember how I mentioned that I initially found lots of beautiful design images online when I was first searching for ways to distinguish what we do? Well, after seeing all that, do you know what sort of style you want? What if you don't? How about, how your architect will work with you? Should that influence which design team you hire? Ooo, tell me more.

Where’s the line between architecture and interior design?

Maybe you have a project that blurs the scope between architecture and interior design. Or, maybe you just aren’t even sure at all which is which? Is there crossover? Please, tell me!

What is FF&E?

This is an especially good question because of that acronym! First, what does that stand for? Second, what is it? It's the term that describes the furnishings and non-structural stuff, but we'll get into way more detail. Yes, let’s.

And, speaking of it, what do architects’ acronyms mean?

It’s true, there are a lot of acronyms that show up in architectural drawings. We try to avoid them when we can, but sometimes it can't be helped. Curious what all the acronyms in this industry mean? Let’s decode!

Landscape designer vs. landscape architect: what is the difference?

Heck, maybe you have an outdoor project and you’re confused if you should hire a landscape architect or landscape designer. What’s the difference? Oh, man. Tell me!

How do I prepare for my first call with an architect?

If you’re planning on reaching out to an architect for advice about your project, the likely first step is to schedule a call. It doesn't hurt to know what to expect. I'd like to know!

What should I ask an architect when they see my space?

After that first call, if it seems like we would be a good fit for eachother, we typically schedule a walk-through of your project so you can show us around your space. Preparing for that on-site visit can help us both get the most out of it. Tell me how, please!

What about a landscape architect – what should I ask them?

As I mentioned, we also have an awesome team of landscape architects to help your project come to life. What you should ask them in an interview is a little different. Let's see the tips.

How do I design my project with an architect?

Say you decide to move forward after that first call and subsequent walk-through. Then what happens? How does it all work from that point on? Like this.

Why do I still need an architect after I have a building permit?

A lot of how we work is divided into phases. From early pre-design exploration, to helping you during construction, we have levels of service available all the way through your project. And yes, there is a ton of value in retaining professional design services after you’ve received a building permit. Like what?

Do you have tips for helping me communicate well with a designer?

Of course! And, as you probably imagine, good communication is key to a quality project. Show me the tips!

How do you get great design on your project?

Once you’ve verified that you’ve got a great team that’s talking well with each other, how do you go about ensuring you end up with amazing design through that relationship? This might help.

How do I find a contractor?

So, you've hired a professional to design your project, now who is going to build it? Picking a contractor that works for you and your project is super important! Teach me!

Do I need to permit my commercial space?

We also get a lot of people interested in design their retail, office, or restaurant space. A lot of first time business owners have a lot of questions! For instance, do you need a permit for your commerical space? Well, do I?

How do I even find the right space for my business?

Of course, you know about location, location, location. But, in truth, there is a lot more than location you'll need to consider to give you the best chane for success. What else?

How long should my remodel process take?

We all hear stories about a friend-of-a-friend who remodeled their home and it only took three months. Is that true in Seattle? We break it down for you here. Go on…

What is driving up the cost of construction in Seattle?

That same friend-of-a-friend's remodel only cost $50,000. Shouldn't mine cost about that much? Well, whether or not it should, it's not going to cost that in this market these days. Why not?

So, does it makes sense to add a second story to my house?

You're not alone in asking! This is one of the most common questions we get, and there are several moving parts, including what it costs. So, does it?

Where should I splurge on design?

Once you’ve swallowed the current construction costs, you’ll want to think about where to prioritize your budget. There are things that will take your money much futher than others. Where is it worth it to spend that extra dime? I need to know!

What should I do when things get tough?

And finally, the fun of our profession is solving a good challenge. Here’s what to do when you’re faced with a tough challenge. Let's have a look.

Would you like to read more from the team?

If you enjoy reading our blog as much as we enjoy writing it, that just makes our day! You might also enjoy a few of the related posts below. And, if there is a topic that you wish we would cover, let us know!

How to Determine Your Project’s Program

When folks are setting out on a design journey, many, but not all of them, come to us knowing exactly what they want to do with their project. If you’re someone who isn't quite sure, how do you go about figuring out your dream project’s program? And what can we do as designers to help?

How To Update a Short-Term Rental Property

As schedules remain flexible and more folks are able to work from anywhere, there has been a huge surge in the short-term rental market. The pandemic has fueled a strong desire for individuals and families to get away from their everyday life and into something new, so let's talk through what it takes to get a property ready for renters.

How An Architect Can Help Before You Buy A House

Ever heard of someone buying a house only to learn their big remodel dreams aren’t possible? The competitive real estate market can add pressure to buying a home before you have the full picture. That’s where we come in! An architect can help you understand the potential of a house before you even make an offer.

Considering a project? Or, just curious about something?

Send us your questions about design, architecture, interiors, landscape, LEGO rooms… Anything, really. We’re always eager to meet new people, and we’d love to get to know you, your project, and your goals.

Get in touch.