Archive for month: December, 2019

8 Essential Questions to Ask When Hiring An Architect

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Deciding on an architect is a big decision — and ultimately a big investment into your future, your comfort, and your overall well-being. Creating truly custom and unique homes takes incredible vision and finesse that not every architect can execute. Asking the right questions upfront means avoiding any issues down the road. 

Here are eight pointed questions designed to help vet your next architect and to help lay the groundwork to see if they are the right fit for your next build.

1. What does the entire process look like?

This question is pretty broad strokes, but it does help you level-set your engagement and what you should expect throughout. Be clear upfront with who you will be as a client, and what your expectations are. 

Many clients aren’t looking for a set-it-and-forget-it approach, so make sure both parties understand what is expected from them so there isn’t cause for confusion down the road when the stakes are at their highest. Some clients want the full service, which involves the architect to manage the contracts and act as the liaison with the contractor.

While discussing what the “entire process” looks like can be a pretty open-ended question, it’s good to follow up these: 

  • Who will be managing the project? 
  • Will you stay involved during the construction process?
  • What will be your role with the contractor? 
  • Who will be the main point of contact?  
  • When will we meet? 
  • How will the communication process work?

Getting out ahead of these questions all depends on your individual needs and understanding how involved the architect will be during the construction process. 

2. Do you already work with a builder?

You never want to assume that the architect works with a general contractor. It is good practice to understand from day one if they work with builders, what their working relationship is like, what projects they’ve done together and which ones will be best suited for your needs. 

If they don’t have any builders on deck, ask for recommendations, and what strengths and weaknesses they would be bringing to the project. 

3. How will you make this project on time and on budget?

High-performing architects will inevitably be very busy maintaining a large workload, so it’s important to find out how accessible they will be to help you while working on your design. Understanding the timelines and workflows in a straightforward solution that matches your budget, timeline and vision will provide incredible peace of mind as the build is underway. 

4. What is your track record when dealing with issues in the past? 

You would be hard-pressed to find any professional who has had a flawless track record when dealing with any project without facing any barriers or backtracks. Ask pointed questions about any roadblocks the architect has faced in the past and what they did to get past them. 

5. Are there any challenges, hurdles or pushbacks you anticipate with my build?

This is a perfect continuation from the last point because there can be residential development roadblocks or regulatory red tape you will need to bypass to clear a path for the project. Being upfront and transparent will help manage your expectations and if there are issues to anticipate on the horizon. 

6. Can you provide examples from design to development on past projects?

Will there be models, drawings, alternate sketches, or computer animations done according to the specs? You essentially want to visualize your project before the construction process starts, and having a variety of tools can give you a better feel for the possibilities.

7. How can we be more ‘green?’ 

When looking to reduce your environmental impact, start the conversation with your architectural firm about what will be done to develop sustainable design strategies. Many leading firms look to create more environmentally sustainable buildings by leveraging the benefits of using LEED. 

Healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings are now more the norm than the exception, and it’s an important question (and often a differentiator) to ask when sourcing an architect. Ask if they are certified and what tax benefits might be available if going down this route.

8. How do you charge?  

Valid question, and never one to be overlooked. Get out in front of what is and is not included in the fee structure. Inquire about what extra costs might be anticipated and if there are additional construction administration hours or amendments that might be built-in down the road. 

While this is originally framed as eight questions, it is really designed to open up a lot more subcategories that need to be tabled before you start working together. Remember, you’re interviewing the architect for your build, and in order to have a positive and productive working relationship, it means asking the tough questions from day one. 

Widler Architecture is a full-service architecture firm that will take your vision and turn it into a functional, elegant space. Whether you’re looking to embark on a home remodel or a photo-ready showroom, Widler Architecture can convert your ideas into achievable designs. Learn more about us here.

Project in Progress: 100 Year Old Chicago Home LEED Renovation

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New project alert! We are doing a huge renovation on a 100-year-old home in Chicago’s North Center. The project is LEED Gold certified which is rare to do in a downtown metropolitan area. Follow along with us here and on our Instagram @WidlerArchitecture for progress updates.

Before Photo
Massing Model

7 Simple Steps to Sprucing Up Your Home for the Holidays

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Your home is your cozy nest for the holiday season that is supposed to evoke warm and uber pleasant feelings. It’s your space that brings loved ones together to bask in the glow and togetherness of the season. Think of it as your safe haven, and an ecosystem that you have full control over designing. With your home at the center of your snow globe these winter months, there’s never been a better time to redecorate and infuse a comfortable atmosphere for all to enjoy! 

Regardless if it’s your turn to host the extended family for the holidays, just keeping it small, starting new traditions, carrying on old ones, or even if you just need an excuse to infuse a surge of holiday energy into your home — it’s easier now than ever to make small updates that can make a big difference to your home. 

Here are seven super simple ways you can add a new layer of holiday cozy to your space.

1. Clean and declutter 

First things first — this is the picture-perfect time to get rid of any unwanted and unnecessary items taking up space. You don’t have to wait for spring to get to your household cleaning into full gear – use this seasonal time period to cleanse, donate what you don’t need anymore, shift some things into storage – or just flat out be gone with whatever does not vibe with the current energy in the room. 

2. Get in the spirit with your senses 

Candles are a classic way to add a joyous mood to your home. Every candle-lover knows that you don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach to candles — you bring out the holiday big guns when the time is right. Whether you choose to use potpourri, hints of sweet almond, cinnamon sticks, brown sugar, or honey, having an inviting fragrance to permeate through your house will really set the Christmas tone. 

3. Accentuate all the little nuances of your home.

Whether you want to drape every doorway and entryway in your home with garlands or take the minimalist route and let some twinkling lights dance on the railings, you can also accentuate your home’s naturally architectural elements with minor touches. Put cozy blankets on your couches or ottomans, add a vintage sled to accompany your tree or try using evergreen branches and pinecones to deck the halls. You can really add your own love to the various nuances around the home without really overdoing it.  

4. Greet the seasons in the entryway 

First impressions matter, and when you have a few big weeks with a steady stream of visitors coming in from the cold, trudging in with snow, dirt, and ice, it can make for a hectic entranceway. Pair that with having little room for anyone to take off bulky clothes, and minimal seating space to take off their shoes (especially for your senior guests), it can create an awkward entrance to exchange pleasantries while simultaneously delayering. 

Try enhancing this welcoming space with a splash of fresh paint, coat hangers, a collection of seasonal works of art, a seating area, and a touch of warm lighting. With a few moves, you can transform your entryway into a welcoming space packed with understated elegance and proper function.

5. Create a cocoa bar 

How appropriately adorable would it be to design your own hot chocolate cart decked out with all of the essentials and festive elements? You could have a variety of walnuts, pistachios or chocolates that will generate a lot of repeat traffic. It’s a fun little DIY project that you can’t go wrong with. 

6. You can have more than one tree.

You don’t have to go full-on Clark Griswold mode with three pine trees on every floor, but adding an additional tree can give you a new creative layer to play around with. Consider having the number one tree in your family’s depth chart as your key one in the prime-time location, and then a fake tree in a different room off to the side to give it that background feel. 

And take advantage of the ever-popular, space-friendly garlands that add a nice and convenient Christmas touch around the home, like the mantle, front door and on armoires.  

7. Set the mood with lights.

Who says Christmas lights only have a place outside? And what is cozier than the glow of Christmas lights dimming the romantic setting in the room? I think we just answered both questions right there. Decorate your home with a bevy of string lights around the wreaths, plants, bed frames, archways or stretched across a wall. It makes for a serene feel loaded with cozy vibes and warm feelings. 

Whatever fun DIY project you decide to take on this holiday season, just remember that this is your own personal space to design and implement whatever mood you want to go for! Share with us your own personal touches to your home and let us know how you made out!