Got a question?
Our Maryland architecture firm has the answers!
| Hiring an Architect |
Often people wanting a new house or looking to make changes to their existing home will contact a builder first. But for those who want a unique response to their goals in a dwelling, an architect can offer an inspiring and thoughtful design solution, tailored to their specific needs and budget. For those who haven’t hired an architect before, we offer the following guide:
Q: What are the important things to look for when shopping for an architect?
A: One of the best ways to tell if an architect is right for your project is to look at the work they’ve already done. A reputable architectural professional will have an established portfolio of their completed projects for you to look through so that you can get a visual of the quality of work you can expect if you hire them. To get an idea of what they will be like to work with professionally, ask for references: building owners, consultants, builders, or permit officials that the architect has previously worked with.
Q: Should I meet with more than one architect?
A: Absolutely! Architects share a love for designing functional, attractive, structurally-sound, buildings, but that doesn’t mean that each professional is exactly the same in work style and capability. Your project is unique and you will benefit from talking with multiple architectural experts, as it will allow you to compare design styles, pricing, expertise, and professionalism to find one that is most fitting for your project.
In addition, you’ll be working closely with your architect during the design process and it’s helpful to find someone you can freely communicate with so that you can avoid any misunderstandings when explaining your needs and desires for the project.
Q: What information should I have prepared for an architect before my consultation?
A: When it comes to your project or idea, you should be prepared to provide your architect with as many details as possible.
- Site Information – via a topographic boundary survey or an Environmental Site Delineation
- Project Program – a statement describing what you’d like the design to accomplish
- Budget – the amount of money you either desire or are able to spend on the project.
For architectural projects involving existing buildings, the original construction documents can be highly valuable to your architect and therefore beneficial for your budget as well. If this documentation isn’t presented, your architect will have to take extra time to carefully inspect the measurable geometry of the building and draw up their own documents to ensure that the existing structure is safe and stable to build on and that the new structure is designed properly given the construction quality of the original building. Providing this important documentation to your architect upfront will save you from paying extra fees due to added work your architect would be required to do to verify the exact size and stability of the existing structure. If you do not possess measured drawings of your house or building, we will have to make them.
If you want to make your own measurements, Click here for instructions.
| The Architectural Process in MD|
Q: How much do blueprints cost?
A: The price you will pay for blueprints will depend on a few project specifics:
- The type of services you need (i.e. design, bidding, construction administration, etc.)
- The complexity of the building or structure to be designed
- The amount of work and time your project requires from your architect
Q: Does the architect ever work with the contractor directly?
A: Our firm is able to represent you once construction begins, but if you prefer to work with your builder yourself, you are free to do so. There are a variety of contracts available and our involvement with the contractor is defined in both the design and construction contracts. If you’re a seasoned project manager, you may decide to represent yourself, but if this is your first major construction project, we are happy to liaise with the builder on your behalf.
Q: What factors are considered in order to determine the design and building costs?
A: Your project has many aspects that are considered when drawing up an estimate for the total cost. The primary factors that determine how affordable or costly your project will be are:
- Style of architecture
- Size of project/building
- Specific requirements or features
Our architects will work with you to design a project that fits your budget and accomplishes all of your intended goals. We advise our clients to always set aside a portion of their budget for unforeseen situations, like harsh weather, latent conditions, or last-minute changes or updates to your project’s design. Our experts suggest assigning 3% of your new construction project budget and 10% of your renovation project budget for these types of circumstances.
Q: What are the 3 main building project types?
A: Your project will fall under one of the following categories:
- Design-Build – Projects where you only hire one entity (builder, architect, or joint-venture) to handle both design and construction.
- Design-Bid-Build – Projects where the client hires the architect or designer to develop plans, the design is presented to qualified builders, and the winning bidder is assigned to then build the project.
- Negotiated-Bid – Projects where the builder is hired before any other professionals and they are responsible for working with the architect during design phases to ensure the budget is not exceeded.
| Maryland Architecture Project Specifics |
Q: What Maryland building codes and standards do you have to follow?
A: Our architectural designs meet or exceed the codes published by the International Code Council and the National Fire Protection Association, as adopted to form the Maryland Building Performance Standards. We will assist you in speaking with the appropriate authorities in order to ensure your building idea is up to code and will make site visits as your project is in construction to confirm that those standards and codes are being adhered to.
Q: Do you have any experience designing sustainable and energy-efficient buildings and homes?
A: We prefer to lower our impact on the environment when we build, and always keep your energy efficiency in mind when designing any type of building. We promote passive solar heating by choosing an optimal orientation for the building in relation to sun exposure.
Dean Robert Camlin & Associates can additionally suggest ways to lessen water consumption levels and will choose the most durable and low-maintenance building materials for your project in order to leave you with a stable and energy-efficient final product. We can also help in the evaluation of lighting and mechanical systems including geothermal heat pumps, windmills, and solar water heaters.
Q: Are there landscape or environmental factors specific to Maryland that affect design and building?
A: The specialized care and attention we give to each project are vital since every site has its own uniqueness and a one-size-fits-all design plan is typically not appropriate for the projects we take on. The environmental and landscaping factors that are considered when we design Maryland architectural project are:
- Wilderness and Mountainous Terrain
- Moderate Economic Climate
- Urban Neighborhoods
- Downtown and Historic Areas
- Moderate Weather – experience all four seasons, rarely experience hurricanes, flooding, etc.
Q: I want to add another bedroom to my house. Where do I start?
A: The first step in making a bedroom addition is to confirm with local authorities to ensure that what you have in mind is allowed in your city. If your site is not served by public water and sewer, the Environmental Health Department should also be contacted to confirm that your current septic system can accommodate the additional residents or guests who will be using the new bedroom. Check local zoning laws and share your plans with a zoning officer and make sure the addition will not be breaking any regulations.
Q: What happens if there’s a mistake on my blueprint?
A: Mistakes happen, and although we have checking systems in place and BIM (Building Information Modeling) software that helps to minimize errors, blueprint mistakes are still possible albeit infrequent. Here at Dean Robert Camlin & Associates, we provide construction administration services to our clients in order to quickly resolve these errors if they occur and we maintain professional liability insurance to cover the costs of correcting any mistakes.
| Terminology in Architecture |
Q: What is an Environmental Site Delineation?
A: Before developing a site, it should be thoroughly analyzed. This includes not only a boundary survey with zoning, setbacks, and topography, but also a soil study to determine its percolation rate (for septic and stormwater design) and bearing capacity. The survey should note significant trees and forested areas, wetlands, and rocky areas. If there are existing buildings and impervious areas, their extent must be shown. It also helps to know the prevailing winds at various seasons, and where there are pleasant vistas. Before starting a design, we need to know what we have to work with.
Q: What are blueprints?
A: Blueprints are the drawings created as a plan or map for the construction of a new building. They generally consist of floor plans, cross-sections, and exterior elevations, but may also include:
- plumbing systems
- mechanical systems
- structural foundation and framing
- lighting and power
- custom work
- site-development design
Q: What is a hydrogeologist?
A: The hydrogeologist is involved in building projects as the professional tasked with finding where water does and does not exist under the building site, as well as where it goes after it has been used. If your site does not have access to public water, a hydrogeologist will determine the ideal location to add a well and will arrange for necessary drilling contractors and permits.
Q: What is the difference between a drafter and an architect?
A: A drafter is someone who might have a general knowledge of architecture but is unlicensed and may or may not have the experience required to design structures to the standard expected of an architect. An architect is a licensed professional who has completed what we refer to as The Three Es:
- Education – Degree from an accredited architectural school.
- Experience – At least 3 years of working under a licensed architect.
- Exam – Passing the Architect Registration Exam.
Q: What are ‘punch-outs’?
A: Punch-outs occur once a builder informs your architect that the building or project is ready for occupancy. During this part of the construction phase, we will review all aspects of the project and list any items that require remedial action before the project can be deemed complete. Any final payment to your builder is typically delayed until the architect’s punch list has been completed.
Residential, Commercial, and Non-profit Organizations
“My wife Mary and I first met Dean Camlin some 20 years ago when we were searching for an architect that could make Mary’s lifelong dream a reality by creating the perfect environment for preschool children to thrive and flourish. He listened carefully to her concepts and then applied his considerable skills to create Little Peoples Place into a facility that has proven to meet all of her expectations. Literally, thousands of children have been introduced to the concept of learning while having fun in the building Dean designed.
“We have done a number of smaller projects since then and have always found Dean very easy to communicate with. He explains architectural issues in ways that can be understood by those not in the field. His integrity is beyond reproach and his many years of experience are invaluable when you need to get a problem solved or a job done. I highly recommend him to anyone in need of an architect.”