Hire an architect. A project from beginning to end

We are regularly asked about the process and timeframes from clients, so I decided to show you what it takes to go from an idea to a finished building.  This will not be a typical project and in fact has a quite few more wrinkles than we usual need to iron out.  But it will show you how we maneuver through a more complicated scenario and the timeframe to do so.  So, let’s start at the beginning.

This project is to replace an old garage with a new one keeping the first floor as a garage/ workshop but adding a second floor for new office/ studio space.  (The garage itself is in bad shape so it’s not possible to keep it.)  Sounds simple enough but as we discovered, the property line location is in question and the building is in a scenic resource.  In this case, the first person we contacted was the surveyor. 

Most of the times we do not need a survey.  We typically only need one if we were designing a new house or if we suspected that the addition the owner wants might be in a setback.  In this case we want to move building over to allow room for a lovely maple tree. 

 The surveyor had a mixed bag of information for us.  First issue is the fact that the property description was in chains rather than metes and bounds.  This property was created in 1885 when they were still using chains so the entire property boundary would need to be determined.  That will take the survey crew a full day of work since they will need to pull from several known points to verify the location of the building and property lines. 

But work on the design continues.  See photo of the latest model. And check back in with us soon.  The surveyor is on the site.

Model of Garage

Model of Garage


Give yourself enough time for the project.  Don’t wait until you have an emergency to begin a project.  We have had people call us with “emergency decks” because they were expecting company.  I have spoken to contractors who have had “emergency kitchens.” It always takes longer than you think to do the work, even the work you do in selecting items.


Let the neighbors know that you’re going to be doing this work.  You don’t need to tell them everything, just the basic information.  I have never had a neighbor complain if the owner spoke to them early in the process, but I have had complaints when a full set of drawings is shown to them.   So, the earlier the better is my motto.