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Dave Packer Custom Builder

Nov 15, 2016
Nov 26, 2016

There is mudh information about how to find an architect/designer for new home construction or remodeling additions. Unfortunately, many decisions end up being based on numbers, specifically the cost estimate to prepare the design and specifications. Basing such an important decision and arguably one of the largest investments of your life on mere numbers is at least incomplete and at worst, a potential nightmare scenario.

 It is recommended that  a comprehensive approach be undertaken  that admittedly takes a little more time than just providing an initial cost estimate but one that can result in truly finding the firm for your unique situation and budget.

It starts with identifying what's "right" for you, a unique definition that requires a solid vision for your project and some personal introspection. For instance, if you are planning on undertaking a large whole house remodel or a contemporary/modern design style, you should look at architects and/or design/build firms in your area that specialize in and have a track record of building those types of projects.

Narrow that list by investigating each company's websites, calling their references if available, the Better Business Bureau, and your local building association chapter.

You should consider the types of personalities you like and respond to best.  You won't know if you're 'compatible' until you meet face-to-face. If you're confident in one firm either from your research or a strong referral, you may not feel the need to meet with any other candidates. But if you are truly starting your search from scratch, without a referral from a trusted source, it is suggested that  you develop a short list of 3-4 firms and invite them to make a presentation in your home -- as much to glean their methods as to gauge compatibility and their interest in your project.

At those meetings, be open and honest about your project. If you have a draft fllor plan or inspiration photos, show them. Request that each candidate bring photos of projects that are similar to yours in style and size. Inquire about how they differentiate themselves from their peers.

Finally, ask each candidate on how they price their services and, in turn, share your project budget, There's no sense in trying to forge a good working relationship if you are not forthcoming about what you can afford..

Once you find an architect or design/build firm that's earned your confidence in their skills, understanding of your project, and (most important) their ability to communicate with you, it's time to refine and sign a contract and get them involved in the project as soon as possible. 

John Ford asked:

Feb 17, 2014
Aug 13, 2016

The answer to this question is directly related to the climate that you live in.  The major window manufacturers offer glazing that is designed for the solar heat gain and temperatures in the various climate zones. You can obtain information either through a reputable window company in your area or by visting the websites of national window companies such as Anderson, Pella, Milguard, etc.

John Ford asked:

Feb 17, 2014
Aug 13, 2016

For both an existing and new construction home, the top three items that provide the greatest value and return on investment are as follows:

  1. Installation of LED light bulbs and fixtures in replacment of incadenscent or compact flourescent bulbs/fixtures.
  2. Sealing of exterior shell of house and all top plate penetrations in conjunction with blower door test.
  3. Properly installed insulation in walls and ceilings and upgrading R-Value above code requirements.

Additional items to consider include:

  1. Testing and sealing of hvac system duct work
  2. Upgrade hvac system condenser SEER and furnace efficiency
  3. Tankless water heater
  4. Solor photovoltaic system

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