1 0 Tag Archives: Architectural Services
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Architectural Services Defined: Part 1


If you’re new to Archability, the breadth of services available to clients can be overwhelming to those unfamiliar with the field of architecture. To help clients understand the variety of services and select the best talent for their job, the next series of articles will give an overview of each service type available through Archability. Architectural services offered by contractors include: CAD, Interior Design, Specifications, Design, Landscape, Estimating, Rendering, Planning, Structural, Modeling, Urband Design, M.E.P., Animation, Photography, Web Services, Graphics, Environmental, and more.


CAD stands for Computer Aided Design, and typically consists of 2D line work (drafting) that represents a real object. Not too long ago, most technical drawings were made by hand using straight edges and pencils. Now, we have the technology which allows us to complete the same tasks in software such as AutoCAD and other similar programs. The basic premise of CAD work is that there is a need for precise, accurate line drawings that represent a real object. The drawings could represent mechanical parts, portions of a building, or anything else. Drawings are created using layers, which can control visibility, line thickness when printed and other parameters the user chooses. Common uses of CAD include floor plans, diagrams and other images which require a detailed scaled representation. For very complex projects, BIM software (Building Information Management) may be utilized. (BIM will be discussed further in Modeling). In addition to 2D work, CAD programs are also capable of completing 3D models that correspond to their 2D counterparts. Some software is better suited to this task than others, but most CAD 2D line work can be exported for use in 3D specific software if the need arises.

If you are looking for building plans, technical diagrams, or accurate detail drawings, CAD services may be right for you.

Interior Design

Interior Design focuses on space planning, furnishings and finishes. Interior design aims to ensure optimum use of space by creating efficient interior partition layouts, comfortable furniture arrangements and selecting surface finishes that will contribute to a user’s well being. Interior design takes into account the end user first and foremost, as that is who the space is designed for. The practice centers around thorough research of products and materials proposed for the space to achieve a blend of beauty, function, and sustainability. Interior designers utilize tools like CAD to create drawings of spaces and may employ the use of 3D models or physical material samples and hand sketches to convey the aesthetics they are designing. Interior designers will work closely with the client and rely on them for information on anticipated uses, number of users, and other programmatic elements. They will suggest innovative solutions to difficult problems and work to achieve the right balance for the goals at hand.

If you are looking for space planning, furniture or finish selection, interior design services may be right for you.


Specifications gets down to the details, and complies the information on products and materials in a highly organized format. In every building project there will be a multitude of products, materials and assemblies that must be written down for purchase and installation. A specifier will compile all of the information needed to properly call out these items for a job, including their manufacturer information, finish options, and proper shipping and storage requirements. Many manufacturers supply this information, and specifiers can research the products needed and group them according to industry standards for easy reference. Compiling these information sheets into a single project binder will assist the contractor in bidding the job and provide a record of all materials included in the building. Specifications is quite technical in nature and requires a keen eye for detail to ensure the correct item is represented and works well with other specified components.

If you are looking for a compilation of items to be used in an upcoming project or need help researching and categorizing product information, specifications services may be right for you.

Join us next month as we discover the other services offered by contractors through Archability. If you haven’t yet, be sure to read all about the process and start looking for jobs or posting your projects for bids.

Brinn Miracle is an architectural intern, journalist and residential designer. She writes about architecture and design topics at her blog,www.architangent.com/blog

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Remodeling: Return on Investment


Contrary to popular belief and perpetuated misnomers, your home is not an investment. Unless you own more than one, a house is a living expense, similar to groceries or clothing; it is a necessity. By nature, investments are not necessities. While there are many home owners who realize a gain on their home’s sale, it is not the outcome that should motivate a home purchase. Similarly, while remodeling your existing home could translate to an increased sales price or faster sale, it is not the type of investment that will provide large gains in typical circumstances. In fact, most home remodeling projects will lose money. Although remodeling projects won’t measure up to typical investments, there are benefits to remodeling a house and putting some money (or sweat equity) into your home. By understanding the basics of investing and how it relates to remodeling, you can make an informed and educated decision when faced with the choice to remodel.

First, one must understand the concept of Return on Investment, also known as ROI. Investopedia is a great resource that explains financial terminology, and it defines ROI as:

As an example, let’s say you own a $100,000 house. You decide to do a kitchen remodel that costs $10,000. When you go to sell your house, the appraiser says you can list your home at $108,000 given the recent improvements. Typically, home improvement TV shows as well as almost every major retailer of home improvement products mistakenly tells you that you’re getting an 80% ROI. This is incorrect, because using the ROI formula, the math actually turns out this way:

Gain from investment ($8,000) – Cost of Investment ($10,000)

Cost of Investment ($10,000)


-0.2 (or – 20%)

As you can see, negative twenty percent is not a great investment at all! If this were a return from your stock investments, you’d have sold long ago and had strong words with your financial adviser. What actually happens is that remodeling costs can be recouped, depending on the type of project and your current real estate market conditions. In some cases, you might see a return on your remodeling investment if your home is in a highly sought after area, or if the supply of available homes is low compared to the demand. Simply put, remodels make sense for these reasons: resale, happiness, and renting.


Historically, kitchen and bath remodels will bring you the most bang for your buck, allowing you to recoup approximately $0.75 +/- for each dollar you invest. The caveat to this is the scale of your kitchen and bath remodel. Smaller, basic upgrades recoup the most money, while all out renovations actually bring back less (by about 10%). This is due mainly to the fact that buyers expect a home to be in working order. If all the homes for sale in your area are in working order, the distinguishing factor between them becomes a matter of aesthetic taste. In this case, it would be best to consider a ‘face-lift’ remodel that would include basic touch ups, curb appeal and simple finish replacement where soiled or worn out. It would not be as prudent to invest lots of money in a complete re-do of the home, as buyers expect the home to be in working order, and costly remodels may not fit the buyer’s specific tastes – adding nothing to the value of the home in their minds. On the other hand, if your home has broken appliances, structural problems, a leaking roof or is in need of a severe overhaul due to neglect, a major remodel would be a better decision, so that your home will meet buyer expectations. Buyer’s may not love the color granite you chose but can live with it. They will not be impressed if the roof has a hole in it and may walk away all together. The other point to consider with resale remodel projects is liquidity. Liquidity refers to how easily an asset can be bought or sold. In this case, remodeling your home (even with small improvements) can help your home sell faster than competitor’s.


In economic terms, happiness is referred to as utility. It is defined as the “total satisfaction received from consuming a good or service”. Remember that your house is a living expense, much like a product or service. It is easy to picture your ‘dream home’ that makes you smile just thinking about it. This is the easiest way to describe how utility works. If money were no object, most people would build their dream home and have every detail exactly as they want it. In reality, money is a resource that is scarce and we must make difficult decisions on the margin based on happiness. In terms of remodels, let’s say you’re living in an older home with a cramped kitchen that has little or no counter space. After years of putting up with it, you may decide that it is ‘worth it’ to you to spend some money to improve the layout, update the appliances and make it your ‘dream kitchen’. While you don’t have the money to remodel your entire home, the kitchen is important to you, and thus, would bring you the most enjoyment. When you consider whether to undertake a remodel, your personal happiness should be your top priority. Since most remodels only recoup a portion of the project costs, consider if your remodel will bring you enjoyment, satisfaction and make your daily life less stressful. Weigh the potential happiness against your current conditions. If you find the prospect of improving your home is enticing for multiple reasons, it is a good idea to pursue a remodel. After all, the best remodels are those that you get to enjoy – not just potential buyers!


Finally, another consideration for remodeling your home is whether you plan to rent it out and purchase another house. As property values begin to increase again, many people are considering the idea of owning an income property from which they can collect passive income. For income properties in need of some TLC, remodeling makes a lot of sense in markets where buyer expectations demand it. Not only will you gain a competitive edge compared to other rental units, but your rental could demand a higher monthly payment. In addition to monthly income, any improvements you make to a rental property can be depreciated over time. That means you can deduct the cost of the remodel from your taxes, divided over a period of time. For example, if you paid for a $10,000 remodel to your rental property, you could deduct $1,000 per year for 10 years from the property’s taxable income. This effectively reduces the overall cost of a remodel, potentially providing or increasing your return on investment.

While the TV shows misconstrue how much money you can gain from a remodeling project, there are still advantages to taking on a project even if you don’t get 80% ROI like they tout. Selling your home faster, finding personal enjoyment from a remodeled room or even writing off the cost of a project from your rental property’s taxes are all viable reasons to invest in a remodel. To ensure your project runs smoothly and impresses buyers, renters or you significant other, be sure to choose the right design professional and understand how you can add value to your home with their services.

Brinn Miracle is an architectural intern, journalist and residential designer. She writes about architecture and design topics at her blog, www.architangent.com/blog

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Archability Launches @ DEMO


As you may have noticed, things have been rather quiet here at Archability. The past several weeks have been devoted to rolling out our new look and some new features, but most importantly, we’ve been gearing up for our public launch, which we’re please to announce was last week.

Archability was invited to join a pool of 70 companies – with the passion, fortitude and insanity of launching a startup – to launch at the DEMO Sping 2012 Conference, in Santa Clara, California.  This bi-annual event, held at the Hyatt Regency – Silicon Valley,  gives startups the opportunity to launch their products in front of an audience of innovators, influencers, investors, and journalists.  For us, this is a not only great launchpad but a way to meet other smart, striving entrepreneurs who’ve taken similar journeys.  Needless to say, we’re thrilled to have received the golden ticket to DEMO Spring 2012.

The atmosphere exuded at the three day event was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. The crowd was overwhelming in more ways than one.  We certainly felt the love during our presentation, and at our demonstration station. Thanks to all who popped by to speak to us and let’s all keep in touch!

Sadly, we didn’t get to do much sightseeing in Silicon Valley, but we did have a lot of fun putting the finishing touches on the new product and practicing the demo that was unveiled to a very receptive audience.

Once on stage we had six minutes to wow the crowd of venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, journalists and tech enthusiasts. We weren’t too sure if a guy with a big cane would walk out and yank us off if we went over our allotted time, so the choice was made to frame Archability within the context of a short personal story.

Here’s how it went:

Let us know your thoughts.  We are excited to share what we have. We believe we’ve created a product that widens the accessibility of architectural services.  And in doing so, provides where those with these skills can access a steady flow of projects.

We’ve gathered loads of feedback from all of you amazing folk about what you’d like to see, and what you’d like improved.  Your opinions are important.  We will continue listening and working hard behind the scenes to make Archability more relevant and useful.

“DEMO remains the premier launch pad for new information technology products, presenting carefully vetted, market-changing products to an audience of media, investors, early adopters, market thought leaders, corporate acquirers doing M&A work and senior IT buyers from the enterprise,” says DEMO Executive Producer and VentureBeat Editor-in-Chief Matt Marshall in his Archability invitation to Demo at DEMO.

DEMO is produced by IDG Enterprises in conjunction with VentureBeat.

Archability DEMO Spring 2012 Media Release.

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Architecture: Product or Service?


Before you engage an architect or designer for a new project, think about what you expect to get out hiring a design professional. Beyond understanding how to choose the right design professional, there needs to be clarity in what an architect or designer does. While it is easy to simplify their job into buzz words like ‘plans’ or ‘construction drawings’, design professionals are unique in that they blend art and science together to create a finished product. One of the biggest misconceptions and points of contention within a project is whether architects provide products or services. By understanding the process a designer goes through, you’ll have a better understanding of when to hire a designer and what to expect from your interactions.

Consumers often incorrectly assume that architects merely provide ‘blue prints’ or a set of finished drawings. The problem with this assumption is that it leads consumers to believe that all drawing sets can be completed quickly and easily. There is also an assumption that drawings can be mass produced and changes will be minor because it will only involve ‘simple tweaks’ of an existing drawing. Let’s take a look at how a set of construction drawings are made to understand why these misconceptions lead to arguments over fees, misunderstandings on scope of work, and more.

To create a set of construction drawings, an architect or designer must research, study, and analyze a myriad of contextual criteria. These criteria include everything from site constraints like building set back lines and soil studies to ensure a proper foundation, to building code compliance and historic preservation rules and regulations. These examples usually require the architect or designer to meet with other professionals across many disciplines, costing the designer time and effort just to ensure that your project is even feasible to start with. After the designer has concluded from their due diligence study that your proposed building and plot of land are compatible, they can then proceed to the schematic and design development stages of the process.

Schematic design requires the architect or designer to be regularly engaged with the client as they work out a list of goals, needs and desires. While it sounds easy enough to compile a ‘wish list’, the designer carries the burden of interpreting phrases such as “I like rustic” into a spatial response that not only embodies a particular aesthetic or style, but also takes into account practical considerations like budget and material durability. Each ‘wish list’ item must be translated from the client’s thoughts (however poor or articulate) into a practical and aesthetically pleasing design solution. This requires the designer to evaluate not only the client’s wish list, but also the site’s context, the client’s deeper values, and even his or her own design philosophy. Good design will appear easy and simple – as if anyone could replicate it – but it was only accomplished through complex and thorough thought processes. Adding to the complexity of the project is the wild card: creativity.

Creativity cannot be forced, and is a process. The creative process that will eventually lead to a design conclusion and a final product (i.e. a set of construction documents and eventually a finished building) may take any length of time. This uncertainty often sets consumers on edge because most people don’t like the unknown, especially when it relates to money. This is where good communication is essential, so that both client and designer are comfortable and have a mutual understanding of the project goals and how they will be accomplished. Establishing trust early on is vital to the success of the project, so that if there is a case where more time is needed to arrive at the best design solution, the client is willing to rely on the designer’s best judgement. In the end, that trust will allow the client to receive a beautiful product and will allow them both to enjoy the service that is being provided. The level of involvement on the designer’s part to ensure a quality product explains why good designers refuse to ‘draw a set of plans’ based on someone else’s preparations. A good designer understands that not only will their reputation be staked on the project, but also their liability. The best designers will only accept work which includes their service of overseeing a project to ensure the highest level of quality.

This leads to the second misconception about architects and designers: architects provide only a service. Assuming architects exist to cater to your every desire creates a conflict of interest. The architect was hired to create the best design possible, but they cannot do that if the client prevents them from exercising their expertise and talent. The architect or designer hired for a project is there to serve – as a consultant. Too often, clients assume that the design professional is just there to take orders or follow instructions. However, this under utilizes the designer, as their expertise is wasted. Because good design appears effortless and obvious, many clients assume that it is easy; this fallacy of logic leads some consumers to think they are able to design anything for themselves and only hire an architect to perform a ‘drafting service’ of their ideas. While many clients have great ideas that can be incorporated into the project, few are experts. For this reason, it is best to rely on the expert you’ve hired for your project: the design professional.

As an example, architects must earn accredited degrees, complete a minimum number of professional work hours in multiple project types and complete a series of rigorous exams before earning their license to practice as an architect. These credentials, along with aptitude for design and practical experience qualify an architect to make decisions for your project. Clients who undermine their architect because ‘they know better’ are losing value. Imagine it this way: would you hire a top notch lawyer to represent you in court, then tell him to step aside as you argued your own case? It seems like a waste, and a foolish decision. It is highly recommended that you take the time to carefully select the right design professional for your project so that when they rely on their expertise and credentials to make decisions, you can rely on them as a professional in charge of your project.

Another point of contention is that clients often demand unrealistic deadlines. This stems from a lack of understanding of how the post-conceptual process works. A seemingly simple change such as “move the light over three feet” has cascading effects which are unseen by the client. A change such as moving a light fixture involves revising not only the drawing that shows the light fixture, but also how that light fixture is controlled by switches, whether the change will affect other ceiling components like the structure or air ducts, and whether the change requires additional materials that may not be available in time for construction. Not only this, but every drawing which referenced the light fixture must be updated to reflect the change. While some programs can automatically adjust several drawings at once, not all firms use these types of software, nor does it preclude human error or coordination errors. Time must still be allotted to careful coordination to ensure that all changes are carried through all affected portions of the project. Don’t be shocked when a ‘simple’ change costs a lot more than you expected. A good designer will explain the ramifications of each design decision and walk you through expectations as part of the service they provide.

In the end, architects and designers provide both a product and a service. It is a balance that requires excellent communication, mutual understanding and a common goal: to ensure the project has value and integrity.


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Value: What’s your project worth?


A concept that is both prevalent and relevant, especially due to the current economic conditions, is the idea of value. The concept of value is applicable to how we spend our money, and the perceived worth of what we receive in return. It is especially important when it comes time to decide on whether to pursue a design project. Design is very subjective, so it makes it quite difficult to determine the value of a design project. Even if a project is deemed necessary and makes good economic sense, how does one make a value judgement concerning the most detailed decisions? Something as (seemingly) insignificant as choosing between a fluorescent light bulb and an LED bulb can all be traced back to the initial value proposition: is this product, service, event, decision, etc. valuable?

We all want to get the most bang for our buck, and stretch our money as far as it will go. Recently, Todd Vendituoli wrote a post concerning the way houses have often been treated solely as financial assets instead of homes for nurturing our lives. This often leads to an over-simplification of how we evaluate a design project’s value. In order to properly analyze a decision to build, remodel, hire a designer or spend the extra money for granite instead of laminate, one must fully understand the concept of value.

Value has many facets, but two important concepts are Return on Investment (ROI) and Utility. To explain these concepts, I’ve asked my husband, David, to detail them in layman’s terms. David received his bachelors degrees in economics and finance and his masters of science in finance. He currently works as a portfolio manager assistant. I thought he’d be better qualified than me to explain these concepts.

Return on Investment (ROI) is a simple concept that can be used to gauge an investment.  If I was to spend $20,000 renovating my kitchen, and an appraiser valued the work at $40,000, my ROI would be 100%.  This is pretty simple; however, concepts begin to get muddy when you introduce “utility”.  At the risk of oversimplifying, utility is economic jargon for the value of happiness.  ROI fails to capture this aspect of economic value that can be critical when it comes to something as personal and every day as your home.

Let us analyze two situations.  In both of these scenarios you will be renovating your home.  The goal is to realize some ROI on the eventual sale of your house.  The operative word is “eventual” since you will be living with these updates for some time.  For these renovations, let us say that you will spend $20,000.  Scenario A, your goal is to maximize your ROI at 100% ($40,000 of end value).  To do this, you’ll need to create the most appealing renovation to the general populous: granite counters, builder beige walls, white trim, hardwood floors, etc.  Scenario B, your goal is to balance ROI and your tastes with ROI at 80% ($36,000 of end value): Quartz countertops, plush carpets, modern finishes.  At first glance, one may choose Scenario A.  But, we have failed to capture the utility generated by the renovations from the homeowner’s perspective, i.e. the enjoyment you will get out of selecting finishes you love compared to finishes you ‘settle for’ for the sake of broad resale appeal. Let us say that scenario A creates utility equivalent of $5,000, while scenario B – which better suites your tastes – generates $15,000 in utility. Essentially, scenario B makes you three times happier than scenario A.  At this point, it makes more sense economically to go with the personalized renovation using finishes you love. It creates a total value of $51,000 (Compared to the $45,000 alternative).  Value is still being generated, even though it isn’t money in your pocket.

These concepts may seem intuitive and even overly simplistic.  It makes sense that one would want to be happy with a renovation that they must live in.  However, it’s far too easy to bypass the value of one’s enjoyment since it’s not “hard cash”.  You must ask yourself though, what’s the point of the hard cash?  Most likely, the end goal is to spend it on something that makes you happy (vacations, dream home, philanthropy).  Few people have the goal to die with a lot of cash and never spend it.  By maximizing our utility AND ROI, we maximize our utility and overall quality of life.

Now that we see the difference between ROI and Utility, we can read between the lines and understand that everyone simply wants value added to their projects. Whether they are building an office tower, designing a master-planned community, or remodeling an outdated kitchen, everyone wants their project to have value – from the overall form to the last nut and bolt. There are many ways to add value to a project that may not always be apparent.

Hire a Design Professional
Hiring an architect or residential designer can add value to your home in multiple ways. Not only are architects trained to evaluate multiple value propositions simultaneously throughout the design process, but the end result can be appraised at a higher dollar amount and often sell faster than comparable structures. In addition to monetary gain and a shorter sales timeline, a custom designed home will bring a higher utility since it will be exactly what you need and want. Imagine that all of the frustrating aspects of your current home were adjusted to your tastes – isn’t that something that is valuable? Hiring a design professional adds many facets of value to your project. To find out how to choose the right designer, read this recent article.

Add a Unique Feature
Another way to add value is by incorporating a unique feature in a standard design. Green features and systems, special design elements, unusual finishes, or amazing vistas can all add value to a project. All homes will have the basics: gathering space, cooking and eating space, and sleeping space; however, adding unique spaces to a home through renovation can be a way to add value. Spaces like sun rooms, landscaped outdoor areas, or flexible multi-purpose spaces can be the feature that sets your home apart from the rest. Whatever you add, be sure that it is appropriate and that it maintains the integrity of the overall design.

Strive for Quality
By using only the best materials, products, and professionals for your job, you can ensure a higher value for your project. Everyone knows cheap materials won’t bring a premium when it comes time to sell, and may even cost more money in the long run due to maintenance or poor installation issues. It is always important to balance high quality with monetary cost while being mindful of whether the selections contribute to the project’s integrity. For example, while hardwood floors may be a premium product, adding them to a renovation in a neighborhood where linoleum and carpet are more common could result in less value added than if an engineered or laminate floor was selected.

Create Multi-Purpose Spaces
Another way to create value in a project is to designate multiple activities for a single space. By adding an element of flexibility, you can create a wider market appeal. Think of it as diversifying an asset by exposing it to multiple purposes. If you provide a space that can double as both an office and guest room, future buyers will have options as to how they use the space. A dual functioning room can also save you future time, effort and money when your own needs and desires change. By allowing a design to serve multiple purposes, you are embedding flexibility into your future, and that can equate to savings. Another cost saving measure can be found by decorating with furnishings rather than semi-permanent finishes. Decorating your home with colorful paintings, textiles and objects is much easier and cheaper to change than floors, cabinets or walls. Avoiding costly renovations in the future definitely adds value to a project.

Remember that while any one of these suggestions can add value, they should not be considered in isolation. The best materials can be poorly installed, or used in an illogical design that detracts from a project’s value. It is always important to consider each of these elements and how they relate to one another. For this reason, your project will get the most value from hiring a design professional who will be able to recognize and address these factors from start to finish. Consider bringing on a design professional for consultation on your next project to see how they can add value to your design.


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Curb Appeal, New Eyes, and How Archability can Help


I’m sure just about everyone is aware of the many difficulties the residential real estate market has been facing and may continue to encounter for the foreseeable future. According to the experts a combination of issues has contributed to the problem – over-building, foreclosures, sub-prime mortgages, and poor lending practices are all terms that have been included in the discussions.

If you have a home listed for sale or plan to put one on the market shortly, in all likelihood you’re experiencing the frustrations of trying to move a home in this depressing climate firsthand. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales contracts for previously occupied homes fell sharply in April – down to their lowest level since last fall. Home values have continued to drop in many regions – a trend attributed in part to the number of foreclosures still in the pipeline. So how do you sell a home in a market like this without losing a bundle in the process?

Fortunately, all the news isn’t bad. The NAR also reported that existing home sales for the first quarter of this year were up 8.3 percent over the fourth quarter of last year and we’re now on an annual pace of about 5.14 million existing home sales for this year. That’s a lot of homes that are being purchased — perhaps all you need to do to contribute to that statistic is price your house competitively and make it stand out from the rest.

A realtor contributing to an article in Remodeling Magazine made the comment that in today’s real estate market “curb appeal is king.” When your home is competing with so many other homes for the few qualified buyers considering a purchase, catching buyers’ eyes from the moment they pull up can help swing a deal in your favor. It may be as simple as having a beautifully landscaped front yard or creating an enticing entryway that’s easily noticeable from the street. Small roof line changes to the front elevation can sometimes give a home a fresh appearance or adding a little faux brick or stone might be just the small touch your house needs.

The secret is having an educated new set of eyes look at the front of your home. You’ve been looking at your house with the same set of eyes every day for months and maybe even years, but a landscape architect, draftsperson, or architect might take one look at the front of your home and know exactly what can be done to set it apart from the others.

When I build homes, I always have another construction manager walk them just prior to settlement and point out any defects I may have missed. It always amazes me how many small items I’ve walked past on a daily basis that a new set of eyes are able to pick out in a moment. Let the architectural service professionals you connect with through Archability be your new set of eyes and with a few inexpensive improvements, give your home the great curb appeal it needs to sell in a tough market.

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When to Call in an Architectural Services Professional


If you’re visiting this site, there’s a good chance that you’re either an architectural services professional hoping to bid on jobs or you’re planning a project at your home or business and think you may need the assistance of someone in the field, but may still have some doubts.

I may be able to provide some guidance for visitors in the latter category as I have over 25 years of experience in commercial and residential construction management. During that time I have constructed new homes, renovated existing homes, finished basements, and been involved in home additions. I have also built professional and retail buildings, remodeled existing structures, and done numerous tenant build-outs during my lengthy construction career. What does this diverse collection of projects have in common other than featuring me as the construction manager? They all involved the services of an architectural professional in some capacity.

I consider myself to be very knowledgeable about construction practices, labor and material budgets, and working with customers and sub-contractors, but I’ll never have the flair for creative design that most architectural services professionals can bring to the table. I can recall many examples from over the years, but two that stand out took place about 15 years apart.

I had a customer in 1992 who wanted a Christmas shop retail building and because she was a major Department 56 retailer – she wanted the new building to have a Dickenseque design. I spent hours attempting to arrive at a concept the customer liked and thought I might lose the job due to her frustration at my inability to comprehend her wishes. I finally decided to take her over to visit a local draftsman I knew (this was before the Internet was popular) and within an hour he had done several sketches she liked.  The job proceeded to working drawings and the building ended up being one of the most attractive in town. Its unique design caused it to become a local landmark and it still is today.

Jump forward to 2007 when I was hoping to build a new home for a Vice-President of a very large and famous Internet company. The family had lived in Manhattan where the company had offices, but he was retiring and they were relocating to Virginia to be near their daughter. The only thing holding up the deal was their lack of confidence in my design abilities, so I employed the services of an Interior Designer with a local architectural services company. There is no doubt in my mind that their finished home will always rate as the nicest I have built. The Interior Designer offered suggestions for the project that I would have never thought of on my own.

The point of these stories is that an architectural services professional can offer input to your project that your builder or even you may miss. Whether you’re planning a large custom home, just finishing your basement, or adding some retail space – you owe it to yourself to discuss the project with a design professional.

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Archability: Not Just for Architects


If this is your first visit to Archability, you may think that you’ve stumbled into a world where a Degree in Architecture is a requirement for entry. It’s true that one of Archability’s primary functions is providing assistance to Architects searching for qualified professionals to join their teams on various projects. The site also provides a location where Architects can read about and bid on future work that may be on the horizon.  However, these services are just a small part of what Archability is all about.

Architectural Services Professionals

There are a lot of highly trained professionals working in the architectural field who don’t have a Degree in Architecture. Architectural illustrators, cad operators, designers, and many other skilled professionals provide invaluable services to Architects and can also help customers with projects not requiring a professional license. Archability is a site where Architectural Services professionals can discuss latest industry trends, building code interpretations, and bid on upcoming projects.

Archability for Homeowners

Recent economic conditions have hurt the remodeling and home improvement industries, but they haven’t ground to a complete halt and may even be showing signs of beginning a recovery in some markets. Families continue to renovate their homes, finish basements and attics, and in many cases are deciding to add on rather than move up a larger home during a difficult real estate market. Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value survey found that for 2010-2011 the average national cost for adding a family room was about $85,740. Creating an attic bedroom can cost you about $51,428, and if you want to add a master suite to your home, you may spend about $108,090 before you have a chance to relax in that new Jacuzzi.

When you’re spending that kind of money, making sure the job is done right the first time is important and starting with a good set of working drawings is the first step. Archability provides a platform where you can post your project and receive bids from qualified Architectural Services professionals. Just a few of the reasons for hiring a trained expert to do your drawings:

  • Creating a design with the most efficient use of space
  • Providing stamped drawings for permits
  • Proper sizing and placement of doors and windows
  • Ensuring that local and national building codes are met
  • Proper sizing of structural members

If you’re adding on to your home, an Architect or Drafts-person can design the addition so it flows into the existing structure rather than always standing out as an afterthought.

Archability for Business Owners

As the economy continues to recover many business owners may begin thinking about an expansion at their existing location or perhaps having a new building constructed. Depending on the size being considered, the location of the business and the use group classification it falls under, you may be required by your local building officials to have drawings provided by a licensed Architect.

Archability allows you to post your project and connect with Architects, Interior Designers, Landscape Architects, and others experienced in providing drawings for your type of business. You can solicit proposals from and hire from our talent pool for just the drawings or reduce your stress level by having them manage the entire project.

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