HTG's Frequently Asked Questions
We receive a good amount of questions from new and prospective clients. And we're always more than willing to listen and provide answers to those questions. But over the years, we've noticed a few questions that come up time and time again. We decided to take those common questions and answer them here in the hope that they'll help even more people.
When do I need an architect? (WHEN, not why)
It depends on state requirements, the size, complexity of the project and/or the dollar value of the project. If you are just updating your colors or finishes, generally an architect is not required. However, we do recommend using an interior designer to help select new finishes and color scheme. Any time you are moving, adding walls, changing the structure, the plumbing, mechanical or electrical in a commercial building, you might need a licensed architect or engineer’s signed drawings. Now if your building needs to be brought up to date on things like ADA compliance, state, local and/or federal codes, then an Architect is required.
Aren’t all architects the same?
Not necessarily. There are some firms that are ‘generalists,’ that will do any project type that comes in the door. All architects are trained to design, draw and see any building type through construction. If your building type is not complex, then most architects should be able to help. We recommend hiring an architect that is an expert in your building type; Someone who has done hundreds of projects like yours and has learned from past project experience, which in turn will help your project run more smoothly. The analogy is, do you want a doctor that has only done a few surgeries like yours, or one who has done hundreds or thousands?
When interviewing an architect, what general questions should I ask?
- How many years has your firm been practicing (the more the better)?
- What type of expertise do you have with my project type?
- How many projects of this type have they completed (answer should be hundreds)?
- What differentiates you from other architects?
- What is your process? Start to finish. Do you provide other services beyond architecture, such as project management, vendor coordination, etc.?
Do you consider the work you do good value for the money?
At HTG our ‘what’ is that we are More than Architects. This means, we not only provide the standard Architectural and Engineering services we also provide our EvoProcess, InVision, Project Management
and Vendor Coordination. We won’t just design you a building then leave you to deal with all the minor details or leave you alone to coordinate with the city and general contractor. We can coordinate everything – this value we bring, will allow you to spend time doing your job while enjoying the project’s progress.
How far will you travel?
Anywhere within the United States. To date, we have completed projects in 28 states.
How do I get started with my project?
There are multiple ways. One way is to sketch your thoughts and ideas on a napkin, then contact us for a free consultation. If you need assistance with dreaming up ideas or getting a reality check, we can make recommendations that fit your timeframes and your budgets. Many of our clients start with our InVision Process, which will guide you through the early planning and conceptual design stated. With InVision, we take your vision and meld it with our expertise in current industry trends, to design a facility which will fit your brand, culture, employees, guests
How long does it take to get a project approved through the city?
City approval can take as little as a week or as long as 2-3 months. It all depends on the scope of the project, where it’s located in the city and the city’s process. If the property needs to be rezoned, or a conditional use permit or variance are required, these will need additional time. The moral is, start planning now because there are many unforeseen obstacles that can slow a project development down.
Can you find me someone to build my project?
Yes. We have a solid network of general contractors that we have worked with. We can recommend qualified general contractors that have completed similar building types to yours. A contractor having experience in your specific building type will be very beneficial to your project. If possible, a local and qualified general contractor should be used.
How long will my project take?
In today’s environment, projects are taking longer, due to the reduced workforce (e.g. architects, general contractors, subcontractors
and building material suppliers). Long lead times for materials, such as structural steel can elongate the construction schedule. Property purchases, site surveys, soil borings and city processes can also add time to any project. There are standard time frames that we could give for tenant improvements, remodeling’s and new building construction, but to get a better idea of your custom project’s timing, we recommend setting up a consultation with HTG.
What’s the cost of not hiring an architect?
The General Contractors are trained to build buildings. Architects are trained to help their clients ‘see’ their building before it’s built. Once built, it can be costly to go back and make operational changes to the building or space. The value the architects brings is to make sure the client understands what they are getting in their building before construction starts. Having the architect and general contractor work together during the early stages of a project is a definite plus. Along with that, we believe that the owner should pay the architect separate from the general contractor. This type of setup provides the best form of checks-and-balances for the client. Studies have shown, by having the owner, architect and general contractor working together during the early planning, design, drawing and bidding phases, projects are more likely to come in on budget and on schedule.
What’s this project going to cost me?
This is a very hard question to answer because there are so many variables. Are you talking Construction Costs, FF&E Costs and/or Soft Costs? When this question comes up, most people talk about the construction costs, but the FF&E and Soft Costs can add up to as much as 40% of the overall project costs. The building type, size, complexity, materials, level of quality, location, economy, etc., all affect the construction costs and project costs. There are many rules-of-thumb and different square foot costs, which may or may not be accurate. To help you get a better idea of your potential project costs, we recommend setting up a consultation with HTG.
How does an architect calculate its fees on a given project?
Great question, but no easy answer. It depends on the building type, size, complexity, quality, location, etc. Each project is unique, which is why HTG recommends establishing the scope of your project before you begin any architectural and engineering services. HTG’s InVision, Programming & Feasibility Study is designed to do exactly that. With a nominal amount of time and energy, the architect can provide a more accurate architectural and engineering proposal, because they will know what the actual building size and design will be and the type of consulting services the client needs. HTG’s InVision process also helps reduce the request for additional services by the architect during later phases because they better understand the project. Please contact us and we will be happy to give you more details.
What are the different delivery methods for architecture services?
There are three typical project procurements. Tradition, Design-Build, or Negotiated.
- Traditional is where the owner hires the architect and they design and prepare the construction documents. The project is then sent out for bidding by multiple general contractors, and you ‘hope’ the project comes in
budget. The general contractor is not involved during the design phases.
- Design-Build has the general contractor and architect as one team or a ‘single source’ of responsibility. Usually, the design-build process is led by the general contractor. The general contractor pays the architect. This process works well if you have a tight schedule and the design is not a high priority.
- Negotiated procurement process, or sometimes called cost-plus-a-fee, takes the advantages of design-build, by having the owner, architect and general contractor involved in the early project planning, but the architect and the general contractor hold separate contracts with the owner. This provides a good form of checks-and-balances between the owner, architect and general contractor. When the level of quality is established during the design phase, the architect makes sure that
levelof quality is carried throughout construction. A plus to this is: the owner is paying the architect to be their eyes-and-ears, there is less potential for ethical conflicts that could arise during construction. Studies have shown that a negotiated procurement process can provide the best overall design and cost controls.
Why should I choose HTG?
HTG’s differentiators are EvoProcess, InVision
What is the best location to put my next building?
There are right locations and wrong locations for any building type; finding the right is critical. We help clients choose the right locations by using our InVision: Site Selection Study process, which has evolved over the last 40 years. We use a 9-point mathematical model to determine which sites will perform, and equally as important, which will not be good. The 9-point model uses statistical data that takes the guess work out of determining the right location. Our model can also be used to determine if your current location is still in the right spot in town. Though our model is geared towards financial institutions, the basic methodologies still apply to all other building types. Call us before you decide to purchase any sites.
I have too much space in my building, what can I do?
If you are a bank or credit union, have you thought about Co-Branding? Through our InVision phase, we can establish a design that reconfigures your existing space and allows enough extra room for a tenant. We recommend having a tenant that will draw non-customers into your space to increase your brand awareness. We believe that Co-Branding is the way of the future for our bank and credit union friends. This same principle applies to any building type where the owner believes their space could be reconfigured more efficiently to allow for a tenant.
I am running out of space, what can I do?
If you are a Bank, Credit Union, or any building type for that matter, and if you are bursting at the seams, it could mean your current space isn’t efficient as it once was. Or, is your space full and you need to hire more people? If there is room to expand the existing building, our InVision process of Programming and Feasibility Study will help you establish how much more space you need and if it will fit on the current property.