Frequently Asked Questions  

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For the purposes of these questions, a contractor refers to a general contractor,
a home builder or a kitchen & bath company.
Q: Do we hire an architect first or a contractor first?
A: Whether you hire an architect first or a contractor first depends on what type of project delivery suits you best. The two typical scenarios for a custom home or addition are as follows:
  1.) Competitive Bid. You hire an architect like Curtiss W. Byrne Architect, LLC. The Architect designs your project and produces working drawings and specifications. You interview contractors and have three qualified contractors bid on the project. Pros: You get the lowest price through the competitive bid process. Cons: The possibility that bids come in higher than anticipated and you have to go back to the drawing board. At Curtiss W. Byrne Architect, LLC we strive to do our best to make sure the project is within the clients’ budget.

2.) Design/Build. You talk to an architect and a contractor at the same time. (Often the architect and the contractor have a relationship, but this is not a prerequisite.) After the schematic design is completed, the contractor provides an estimate for the project. As the project progresses, the contractor helps to value engineer the project and give updated estimates along the way. Pros: You know approximately what the project is going to cost throughout the design process. Cons: Without competition, you don't know if you are getting the best price. Curtiss W. Byrne Architect, LLC can help take the guessing game out of it by helping the clients prequalify a contractor.
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Q: What do architects charge for their services?
A: Every project is different, and the architectural fees are commensurate with the level of services requested. An architectural fee of 3% of the project's construction cost is a good ballpark figure for a set of permit ready documents although architectural fees can be as low as 1% and as high as 10% of the construction cost. Some architects charge a square foot price typically between $1.50 and $8 per square foot. At Curtiss W. Byrne Architect, LLC, contracts are typically structured so that the design time is billed hourly and the construction document time is a fixed fee based on the square feet of the project. Call Curtiss at 314-565-4837 to set up a free consultation.
 
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Q: My contractor says there is no fee for the drawings. Why do I need an architect?
A: The fee is buried in the contractor’s price to build the project. The contractor is probably using a draftsman or drawing the project himself or herself and having someone seal the drawings to try and save a little money. Having an architect or engineer seal drawings prepared by someone else is against state laws. Saving money on drawings often results in delays in permitting or unexpected costs or delays during construction. Anyone can call themselves a draftsman, but architects are university-educated professionals who have gone through an internship and passed a registration exam. Architects are also required to do 12 hours of continuing education each year. When you hire and architect like Curtiss Byrne, you know you are getting a well designed and detailed set of plans and a professional guiding you through the building process, helping you avoid pitfalls and potentially saving you money. Architect-designed homes typically maintain a higher resale value and some additions designed by Curtiss W. Byrne Architect have had a 100% or greater return on investment. Hiring an architect is money well spent.
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Q: How do I choose an architect?
A: Like choosing any professional, a referral from neighbors or colleagues is always a good place to start. Be sure to look at the architect's professional credentials. Are they licensed? Does their company have the authority to offer architectural services by the state? (Search Missouri individuals and companies at https://renew.pr.mo.gov/licensee-search.asp). Do they carry professional liability insurance? How long have they been in business? Do they specialize in the type of project I am building?
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Q: I am only remodeling a kitchen or finishing a basement. Do I need a permit? Do I need to hire an architect?
A: Whether you are hiring a contractor or doing the work yourself, if you are going to modify any structure, move any walls, move or add any plumbing or electrical work or add any finished living space, you need to get a permit. Adding finished space to a basement may require you to add an additional means of egress like a four foot by four foot sliding window. An architect can help you navigate the codes and offer design solutions that you or your contractor may not have thought of.
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Q: Why Build Green?
A: In the United States, buildings account for:
39 percent of total energy use
12 percent of the total water consumption
68 percent of total electricity consumption
38 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions

Green building - also known as sustainable or high performance building
- is the practice of:

1. Increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use and harvest energy, water, and materials; and

2. Protecting and restoring human health and the environment, throughout the building life-cycle: siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.
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Q: What makes a building "Green"?
A: A "Green" building is a structure that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout its life-cycle. These objectives expand and complement the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort.

Green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment by:
» Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources
» Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity
» Reducing waste, pollution and environment degradation

For example, green buildings may incorporate sustainable materials in their construction (e.g., reused, recycled-content, or made from renewable resources); create healthy indoor environments with minimal pollutants (e.g., reduced product emissions); and/or feature landscaping that reduces water usage (e.g., by using native plants that survive without extra watering).
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Q: What are the benefits of Green Building?
A: Buildings have an enormous impact on the environment, human health, and the economy. The successful adoption of green building strategies can maximize both the economic and environmental performance of buildings.

1. Energy Savings. Because of increased water and energy efficiency, you'll save thousands of dollars over the life of your home.

2. Indoor Air Quality. Green homes feature superior indoor air quality, which improves their overall livability. Green homes reduce pollutants and improve ventilation so your family can breathe easier.

3. Peace of Mind. Green homes are built with the environment in mind. From energy and water efficiency, to reduced construction waste and the use of renewable materials, you can take pride in the fact that your home has less negative impact on the environment.

4. Tax Credits. Several tax credits, saving the homeowner or builder thousands of dollars, are available for qualifying homes and products.

5. Lower Insurance. Some Insurance companies including The Hartford, offer green home discounts.

6. Mortgage Benefits. Some banks offer incentives such as a credit off closing costs on certified homes. Other mortgage companies have a reduced interest rates or in the case of FHA allow you to borrow up to 5% more for effective energy improvements. The Veteran's Administration also offers an Energy Efficient Mortgage available to qualified military personnel, reservists and veterans for energy improvements when purchasing an existing home

7. Increased Resale Value. Green homes typically resell for more than comparable "code-built" homes.
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Q: Is Building Green is complicated?
A: Some people go to great lengths to build green by generating their own renewable power. Others build green by installing extra insulation or energy efficient appliances. Choose the level that works for you, and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from knowing that the changes you made are good for you, your guests and the environment.
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Q: What does Green building cost?
A: Many green building techniques can be applied at little or no additional cost. According to a Professional Builder Magazine survey, the average cost of a Green Home was 3%-5% more than a typical house. Plus, when operational costs, such as heating, cooling and water use are factored in, green buildings often cost less over time.
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Q: Why do I need to get my home Certified?
A: The only way to ensure that a home is Green is to get it independently verified by a third party verifier. The typical cost is $300 to $500. When you go to sell, you will have proof that you home is built Green.




I have confidence that when we give a project to Curtiss, he will deliver a design that is on budget, on time and easy to build.

Jerry Meyer
President
The Meyer Company | TMC Homes
client since 1997




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