By Lorianna Kastrop, Vice President, The Kastrop Group, Inc., Architects
Since the Bay Area is experiencing another one of our dramatic rises in property values, I thought it would be fun to pull out this old joke. I think it has been going around for a while, so I can’t give proper attribution to the creator. I apologize for that.
The point that I’d like to make with this joke is that as we all know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We see things from our own viewpoint and with our own filter. As architects we can see your property’s potential and envision what it takes to achieve that potential. We can also see, or anticipate, the obstacles that would get in the way of accomplishing that transformation.
It’s a tricky business, especially if what we envision and what the client envisions are not in sync. For example, the client may describe a project as “just” taking out one wall. We may see that as a structural problem because the wall is load-bearing, leading to extensive, and expensive, remodeling of the room. Another example is when a lot size is constricted and a client wants to add square footage. There may be room in the yard, but because of setbacks we aren’t allowed to build there. The list goes on and on.
So, when you approach a new project, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that we don’t all have the same “picture” in our heads. We have to communicate very clearly and specifically in order to come around to the same viewpoint. The Schematic (or Preliminary) Design Phase helps to accomplish this by providing sketches and renderings (possibly in 3D). By the time the Schematic Design is approved, hopefully everyone has come around to the same viewpoint. It is very important to go through the SD process.
If you think you will save money by “just getting the project drawn up”, as in getting construction documents from a drafting service or other non-licensed provider, you run the risk of creating a misunderstanding between what you expected and what was provided for your contractor to bid on. Or worse yet, documents that don’t meet code and will not get permitted.
Remember these photos when you describe your project. Not everyone sees things the way you see them!