Things you might be wondering!

What do I need to start a project?

If you’ve got a site, or an idea, or a question, those are all good places to start! The truth is, you don’t need a lot to start a project. If you’re not sure where to begin, we recommend starting with a feasibility study, to help get you on a path you’re confident in.

What is the design process like?

A typical architectural project, regardless of size or type, will have three design phases, known as Schematic Design (SD) , Design Development (DD), and Construction Documents(CD). These phases are followed by permitting, procurement (where you finalize your contractor relationship and project cost) and construction.

SD is the big ideas phase where we establish the size and shape of the project, the overall atmosphere, and set project benchmarks, such as sustainability, accessibility, and budget. We like to get a contractor involved after SD to give more detailed feedback on the budget. DD is the phase for getting specific and answering all the major questions necessary to complete the project. CDs are the technical phase, where we put our heads down and draw every element of the project that needs to be documented to get it permitted and built.

We meet with you throughout all three phases, but the majority of client input happens during SD and DD. At the end of each design phase, we check in on the project budget and benchmarks to make sure the design is in line with the project goals. If necessary, we revise the design or the budget and benchmarks with you to bring them into alignment.

What happens during permitting and construction?

After CDs, we send the project to the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction, usually the city or county) to get permitted, and help you complete any additional negotiations you need to make with your contractor to finalize the price and construction schedule.

Once a permit is issued, the contractor becomes the leader of the project. We are here as a resource for both you and the contractor during the construction phase – our job is to confirm that the project is being built as intended, to confirm any changes in costs are appropriate, and to be a problem-solver when the unexpected comes up.

We review the project’s construction progress regularly, typically between once a week and once a month, depending on the project type. We’ll also attend regular meetings with you and the contractor, and help resolve any issues that arise during construction. During this phase, we’ll be reviewing material samples with you, testing paint colors in the wild, and generally helping finish any unfinished business (there’s always something!).

We’ll be with you through to project completion–once the contractor notifies us that they believe the project is complete, we review it and sign off to confirm our agreement.

If you’ve got a commercial project, or are pursuing special certifications, the end of a project will include commissioning and completing any project-relevant certifications.

How long will my project take to complete?

This is a tough one, and the answer is the dreaded: it depends. We mean that in all seriousness. We’ve found that during the design phase, the limiting factor is usually how quickly you are comfortable making decisions. Once a project starts, we often set client meetings at every-other week, and each design phase takes one to four months to complete (reminder: there are three design phases, so that works out to 3-12 months of design). Construction can be as brief as a few months, and as long as a few years. Permitting can be a tough thing to estimate, since it varies dramatically depending on the jurisdiction, but we find it often takes four to eight weeks for permitting, and yes, sometimes longer.

Depending on your scheduling needs, there are several ways to manipulate a schedule, including phasing a project in different ways, or compressing the design timeline.

What is an architect?

The title of Architect is regulated by each state. In Oregon, an “architect” is “an individual qualified and registered to practice architecture under ORS 671.010 to 671.220, a consulting architect or a foreign architect” (Oregon Revised Statutes 671). While the specific qualifications to become a registered architect vary somewhat from state to state, the typical qualifications are a professional architecture degree (an M.Arch or B.Arch), a significant number of hours working under a registered architect (this usually amounts to several years of experience), and passing the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

What’s the difference between an architect and a contractor?

The simple answer is that architects design and contractors build. In a typical design-bid-build construction project, an owner holds two separate contracts: one with the architect, to design the project, and one with the contractor, to build it. While that is the most common relationship between owner, architect and contractor, there are many different ways to structure the relationships between the three parties, all with their own pros and cons.

Do I need an architect for my project?

In Oregon, an architect is legally required on commercial projects with a ground area of over 4,000 square feet, or a height over 20 feet. The specific details of when an architect is required are slightly more nuanced than this and can be found in ORS 671.030. Other states typically have similar requirements, although the specifics vary.

Whether or not your project is legally required to involve an architect, you almost certainly need a designer, and we love designing projects both big and small. We’re biased, but we think an architect’s expertise brings a lot of value to design projects of all scales.

Do I need to find a contractor myself?

Nope! We’re happy if you’ve already got a contractor in mind, or a shortlist. Have no idea where to start? Contractors come in a lot of flavors, each offering different expertise, quality, and price point. We know a lot of contractors and will help you pick someone. We often recommend bringing a contractor on to a project as early as you feel comfortable doing so, since they are a great resource for managing cost, plotting timelines, and working through logistics.

How much will my project cost?

Similar to questions of project schedule, the honest (but frustrating) answer is another “it depends.” We want your project to succeed, and the best way to do that is to bring the scope and the budget of the project into alignment as quickly as possible. We prioritize beginning a dialogue with contractors (or cost estimators on larger commercial projects) early on in the design process to gather preliminary cost data.

When you are thinking about your budget, we recommend setting aside 20% of your total project budget for soft costs such as the architect, engineers, consultants, permitting, and other costs not part of the contractor’s cost of construction. Since we know you’re not going to be totally satisfied with “it depends,” we can say that the residential projects we’ve worked on over the last few years have had construction costs in the neighborhood of $300-$500 per square foot.

What is KB+BA’s fee structure?

On projects with a clear budget that is in alignment with the scope of the project, we set our fees to a percentage of the cost of construction. Typically this is in the range of 10-15%, but varies depending on the size and complexity of the project. Smaller and more complex projects typically have a higher percentage, while larger and simpler projects typically have a lower percentage.

For feasibility studies, and other work that doesn’t have a clear construction budget associated with it, we charge a fixed fee for projects with a well defined scope of work, and charge hourly for projects with an open-ended scope of work.