FREQUENTLY
ASKED QUESTIONS

Do I need an architect?


Every project that is not a single family home that doesn’t exceed two stories and a basement requires the services of a licensed design professional, also known as an architect. If you are designing a new single family home or remodeling your home you are not required to hire an architect to get the proper approvals from your local municipality.




Why hire an architect if I am not required to have one?


Architects are uniquely trained and have the experience to take your requirements and compose that into a building that gives you satisfying and pleasing spaces, fulfill the technical requirements, and protect your financial investment.




What is the difference between an architect and a designer?


A designer is not licensed and an architect is licensed by the State and must have
completed a minimum of 8 years experience of education and internship, extensive
testing and regular continuing education to receive and keep their license up to date.




What do I get when I hire an architect?


What an architect provides to clients is a service. Part of the service includes drawing “plans” that architects call the “instruments of service” or also “construction documents.” The majority of service and of time an architect spends working on a client’s project includes design ideas, specifying products, meetings, correspondence, coordination, project management, administration, engaging contractors, working with municipalities, gaining approvals, advising, and ensuring that a client’s criteria are met.




What are Construction Documents?


Construction Documents are the official drawings, specifications and product information that comprises the instruction manual so that the general contractor and sub-contractors can build the project.




How much does it cost to hire an architect?


I base our architectural fees on the amount of time it takes to complete a project. Most projects we offer a fixed fee. Some projects are hourly if I cannot specifically define how many hours it will take us to do the project because some parameters have not been defined. Our architect fees tend to be approximately 8%-12% of the construction cost depending on the size of the project (smaller projects will be a higher percentage). Our current hourly rates are: $225.00 per hour for Principal Architect, $180 per hour for Structural Engineering, $160 per hour for Senior Architect, $150.00 per hour for Architect, $135 per hour for interior design and $125.00 per hour for Technical/Production level.




What does construction cost in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties?


Our firm design projects primarily in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties and we keep track of what past projects cost our clients to build and stay connected to our general contractor colleagues on current prices. As of Summer of 2017 costs for construction in this region start at $350.00 per square foot. Most small projects will exceed $500.00 per square foot with larger projects lesser per square foot.




When can you start my project?


Our firm is currently in high demand. So, we are scheduling Introductory Meetings and Feasibility Studies about 2-3 weeks ahead. Once a contract is signed, a new client’s project goes on a wait list which is approximately 20-30 days at current.




How long does it take?


This can vary on the size of the project and whether the client is ready or needs time to process thoughts presented during client-architect meetings. I value that time is important to our clients and so I only take on a small number of projects so that my staff and I are not the ones keeping a project from proceeding to the next step. When we meet for our initial consultation, I will give you an idea of how long your project should take.




Will you help me with my bathroom remodel?


It depends on the size of the bathroom. The majority of our projects have a budget of at least $400K. On occasion we will do a bathroom or kitchen remodel with a smaller budget if the client was a referral from one of our trusted general contractors, networking partners, or a previous client.




Why do you charge for initial consultations?


Because of my 20+ years of experience, I provide a lot more information and value in an initial consultation than other design professionals. I call this initial consultation a Feasibility Study. During a feasibility study, I help with defining the scope of work, preparing budgets, give design advice, discuss zoning requirements, detail information on the process of design through permitting, customize services, share pitfalls that could impact the project, and other information customized to the your project’s specific needs. This information is yours to take to any design professional you meet and will give you a jump start on your project and help you define realistic goals. I still offer short phone consultations for free.




I just need “plans” or blueprints drawn for my permit. Can you do that?


No. By doing the design, we ensure that our clients needs are met and that building codes are being followed.




Can you design for me and then I get the “plans” drawn by someone else?


Yes. We can customize our service to provide design services only. Clients are given the choice on how much detail the design needs to be before being transferred to another entity.




What is an architectural review?


Some municipalities require that a project must be reviewed for its design quality and conformance to the zoning requirements before any other municipal department can review and issue permits. These architectural reviews may require notifying neighbors and speaking before a Planning Commission or Architectural Review board. If this review is required for your project, plan for an extra 3 months (on average) to be added to your project schedule.




Do you build the project?


At this time, J. Kretschmer, Architect does not offer construction. However, we work with many great general building contractors and can connect you with several to bid and build your project.




My general contractor says he can design/build my project. What do you offer
that is different?


There are some advantages to design/build that appeal to many people. How we are different is that an architect, licensed by the state, has the duty to act as your agent during the project and to look out for your best interests. My experience at being involved in 100s of construction projects makes me your expert and advocate through the course of municipal approvals and construction.




Why should I hire you for Construction Observation services?


Services performed by an architect during construction are called Construction Observation services. My staff and I have the experience to look out for you during construction. We can spot when the builder is not following the plans, has built something dangerous or is substituting quality products for cheap ones.




What does owner-builder mean?


An owner-builder is a property owner taking on all the responsibilities of construction even if they have hired a general contractor to build their project. The owner-builder becomes responsible for all inspections including scheduling and ensuring that the project received final inspection and occupancy. The owner can also be considered an an employer and will be required to pay employment taxes. Don’t be fooled into signing a permit as an owner builder by your general contractor if you do not have construction experience.





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