Frequently Asked Questions
9. My project is in Timbuktu. Will you design my project? Is there any location for which you will not design? (Same question, different locations: Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, New York, El Paso, Las Vegas, Tacoma, Aspen, South Bend, Roanoke, etc.).
SEE ANSWERS BELOW:
A. Your home is a huge investment, likely costing hundreds of thousands of dollars+. Make sure licensed, educated, trained and experienced professionals design it properly. You wouldn’t buy your car or SUV from some guys saying they “put together cars,” would you? And most people’s cars cost much less than their house. So why short change yourself on the quality of your residential design? Get a pro. And the name of our company says it all: we design homes for hundreds of people, many of whom may have several similar situations to yours: we have likely designed for similar situations, all over the Country.
B. You have not been able to find what you want. We will create it for you!
C. Energy Efficiency: the house we create for you will have lower utility costs due to our superior insulation values and special infiltration-stop techniques and glass and other features that we provide in our designs.
D. Healthy House: our designs specify healthy materials and systems to help make your house a healthy environment in which to live and breathe. Do any of your family members suffer from allergies? We can help! Breathe easier on one of our designs with low VOC off-gassing, low to no formaldehyde and clean surfaces and HVAC systems and details.
E. Value Engineering: We give you the most bang for your buck. Our specifications carefully evaluate the best value for nearly every aspect of your new house, providing higher end elements where they give the most impact and value-oriented features where it does not matter.
F. Low Project Volume: we only design a few select projects for our clients each year. You will receive professional hands-on attention and be able to reach Rand Soellner, himself when you need to do so, 9AM through 9 PM, 365 days a year.
G. Resale: obtain a design that can help you resell your house, should you ever wish or need to, with wonderful and practical features that make your house worth more.
H. Special Skills: this is what we do. We are passionate about the design of houses and have been doing it for 40+ years.
I. Design & Construction Documents: we both design and produce Detailed construction documents. You will learn that not all “residential designers” do this. Some only create a pretty picture” that is just about worthless, because there is nothing to tell the builder how to assemble the project. Having a real architect (us) highly experienced in the design of houses makes sure that you receive quality detailed documents illustrating how to put your residence together properly.
J. Construction Administration (CA) Services: we offer CA services, if you wish, to compare what your contractor is building versus what was designed, to keep things on track. Not many people understand the complexities of construction, and having your architect as your advocate provides a great deal of oversight and comfort to your construction effort.
K. Green: not just a buzzword with us. For decades, we have been building in higher levels of insulation, regionally located materials, tighter building envelopes, more durable materials, and lower carbon footprint.
L. Beautiful Aesthetics: We design beautiful houses that make spirits soar.
.Click here to be taken to our Contact Us form –> Contact Us .
Yes. Our principal is a registered, licensed architect in multiple states across America. He also has a national certification with NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards), so if required, he can obtain licensure just about anywhere required throughout the USA. This is a very good question to ask whomever you interview as your architect. You may well discover that the person to whom you are talking is in fact not an architect. Demand to see their license! If they cannot show you one, then they are not real! It is a law that genuine architects post their license for all to see. It is actually illegal for any person or company to even use the words: Architect or Architectural unless they are licensed.
Click here to see our main webpage –> Residential Architect
Only if you want one. It is not necessary or required. Often, our specifications and optional interior elevations can provide you with just about everything you might need in this regard. Also, we can help you make color and materials and furnishing selections as well. We normally indicate appliance size, furniture locations and similar items as part of our services. Once in a while, some clients prefer to involve their decorators near the end of the project, or during construction, and while this is likely not necessary, if that is what you wish to do, you are welcome to do so.
Click here to see our main project index –> projects
We offer Bidding as an optional service. In this phase, we will located and solicit local license contractors, investigate their licenses with the State Board of Contractors in your state, request insurance information from the contractors, send them a detailed questionnaire to fill out and return to us, and we will talk to the shortlist of firms and discuss with you those that appear to be best qualified to build your project. We can manage the entire Bidding process and evaluate the results, as your advocate. So, Yes! We are able to help you with this.
Click here to see our Off The Shelf Project Index –> Off The Shelf
Yes. We have hundreds of millions of dollars of design and construction projects accomplished, which includes custom houses, multi-family housing, low-rise, mid-rise and high-rise designs, and yes, a host of commercial projects. This rich experience helps the company to be able to solve any condition your project may present.
Click here to see our Services & Locations page –> Services and Locations
Yes. What you are describing is a Phased Plan. We can help you prioritize the various parts of your project and then assign them a phase number and detail what will be accomplished in each of these phases, as you wish to fund each of these construction portions. By having us show the entire project, broken down by these phases, the builder of each phase will know what to provide and when.
Click here to see testimonials from happy clients –> Testimonials
Our firm/principal has been involved with projects as small as a 394 square foot (sf) mother-in-law suite over a garage, to as large as a 3 Billion dollar program assessment of an entire huge school district with millions of square feet, a 16,000 sf castle, 8,000 gsf (Gross Square Foot) estate houses, 3,500 HSF (Heated Square Foot) mid-range houses, and 1,000 HSF cottages.
In other words, there is not much that we have not seen or designed, in a wide variety of project sizes. This has prepared our firm to handle whatever size project you have in mind. And this firm is ready, willing and able to undertake your project, no matter what size it is, as long as you are interested in hiring us to design it.
For instance: right now, the company has a client in Mississippi, who is engaging us to Master Plan a 42 acre farm site, including areas for a Youth Camp with housing barracks, cottages, barn/stable/riding ring, riding/hiking trails, swimming pool, other recreational features, a main house/office, retention ponds, roadways and other features. Any one of these features might be considered fairly modest on their own, but taken together, the result is an interesting and complex project. So, the answer is: we will design whatever size project you have in mind.
Click here for additional reasons for our company to design your house –> reasons for an architect to design your home
If you build from an existing set of documents, you will always find something about it that is not to your liking. The site slopes that you have will not work for the site for which the existing plan was conceived. The existing plan will not have a bunk room that you envisioned for your grandchildren. The existing plan will not have a 3 car garage. The existing plan will have the outside covered in vinyl siding and you wanted stone, hardi-plank and timbers. The foundations of the existing design are a slab on grade for a Florida house and where you want to build now is on a steeply sloping mountain site with exposed granite under the house; that won’t work. The windows of the existing plan will be too small: You want really large glass areas along the back of your house, to see the wonderful view! And, mainly you would be building someone else’s dream not yours.
Also, any existing design will probably have been created for a location that is not precisely where your land is located. There will be variable building setbacks, planning & zoning restrictions regarding height limitations, possible HOA (Home Owners Association) restrictive architectural guidelines telling you what you can and cannot build on your land, required minimum and maximum sizes of the various floor levels in the design, building code variations and other items that will impact what you are allowed to build. We have heard people say things like: “Oh, we don’t have any building codes where we live.” Do not believe that. Every state in the USA has adopted the IRC (International Residential Code) and every County in every state has to comply with State-mandated issues like building codes. Therefore, every County does have to enforce what the State directs them to enforce and in the rare situations where it does not, you are still under the requirements of the State.
When you come to our firm we listen you you tell us what you want, then we either design that from scratch, or customize one or more of our previous designs that captured your imagination. The key is in the customization: the tweaking that gives you what you really want.
Click here for our firm information & philosophy page –> Firm Info & Philosophy
Yes. We will design your project, no matter where the land is on which it is to be located. This means: anywhere throughout North America, South America, Europe; anywhere. We already have projects throughout the USA and even others in places as far away as the Middle East.
Click here for more information –> global luxury residential architects
We have a competitive hourly rate, that most people find is often less than others. Having us design your project hourly allows you to pay only for what is provided and most clients proceed in this manner.
Also, there are optional services with charges assigned to them, if you decide you want those services, such as Bidding, Construction Administration and several others. The total cost depends on your project: size, complexity, location, amount of changes you desire during the creation of the project documents and other factors.
No. It is actually more work for us to review and explain to you why certain things should be otherwise than to have us start from scratch or start with one of our pre-tested schemes as the basis of beginning. Designing a good house is a very complicated endeavor. Just because someone picks up a pencil or computer and puts some lines down does not mean that it will have the best layout that works best for your lifestyle and your land.
Please let us do our job for you; it actually costs you less to let us do that. And more importantly: you will obtain a better design in which you will be happier and likely save more cost both during construction and during the lifetime of the building. Our ultimate goal is to make you happy with a great design and works best for you. If you are a Physician, how would you feel about us coming to you and saying: “We read up on this type of operation on Google, so we are going to make the main incisions and we will sew ourselves up afterward to save some.” Right. Well, it’s the same for Architects. Or if you are an Attorney, and we came to you and said “We investigated this online, so we want you to do such and so in court to defend us…” Again: right; now you understand: it’s the same for Architects. Let the professionals do their job, with your best interests at heart. The result will be so much better.
That is sort of like asking: “How much is a car?” The answer is: “It Depends.” On what? Size, complexity, your choices that you have made, location, economic conditions, materials, systems, details, heights, widths, lengths, finishes, paving, and other aspects of the project.
We have seen construction costs from a low in Arkansas for tract housing (plain vanilla) of $65/sf (square foot), to over $1,000/sf for high end Colorado mansions on the sides of cliffs. In the North Carolina area, we have seen modest houses in nice locations with some simple features (nothing elaborate), in the $100/sf range (and it can be hard to find reliable builders in this range), to $150/sf for mid-level houses (with some nicer features), to over $250/sf for more architectural houses, to $300+ for upper end houses. Also, your site topography and geology have a lot to do with your foundation cost, which can go from perhaps $15,000 for a more compact house on a fairly level lot, to hundreds of thousands of dollars on a steeply sloping lot for a larger house.
Also, you, as the owner have to accept responsibility for the cost of your house. The choices you make have a lot to do with the cost of your house. For instance, you can have two entirely different costs for exposed, finished wood floors. #2 Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) costs about $1/sf in the Carolinas right now, and heart pine may cost from $11 to $14/sf. Over a 3,500 sf house, that can be a difference of more than $40,000. So your choices drive much of this.
We will help you understand this and help you make these sorts of choices. Once again, let’s consider the cost of roofing. A Certainteed architectural laminated 300# shingle might be in the $1.20/sf range and a faux slate tile roof might be more like $5.25/sf, depending on your final purchase price and installation cost. So your finish roof could cost more than 4x more just based on your choice of roof shingle/tile! We will help you deal with the multitude of choices to arrive at reasonable numbers.
Click here to see Bidding Pricing webpage –> Bidding Pricing
Yes. Our principal, Rand Soellner, ArCH, first won an energy efficiency power conservation award for a house he designed in 1984, long before the word “green” became a popular buzzword. He also was the architect of record for the master planning, programming and concept design for the New Florida Solar Energy Center. The company has been designing and planning with such techniques as bounce light shelves and glass shading planning for decades. Our firm typically specifies insulation levels far in excess of those required by code and indicates special infiltration stoppage techniques to result in a tighter, more efficient house for you. The firm also indicates materials from local and regional sources to lower your carbon footprint, double pane low-E glass, weatherstripping, and materials and systems that lower greenhouse emissions. You are doing your part to help protect our planet when you have this company design your house.
Click here to see our Green Page –> Green Architect
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