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Two73 Design


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We are a multi-disciplinary design practice. With a specific focus on vernacular design, sustainable construction, and efficient design. Two73 has a mission to focus the practice on highly energy-efficient structures. We are a full-service building and interior design studio that focus on new builds, renovations, additions, commercial space design, and construction drawing documentation, specifications, and virtual reality visualization.

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1 customer review

13 December 2019

Great to work with. Professional and detail oriented plans.

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This is essentially an information gathering and processing phase – what I do before I start design. We collect all of the information about the project to use in schematic design. This includes information about the site, any existing structure(s), codes, deed restrictions, septic information, site utilities, access, budget, and schedule.

The property, or site, is a strong generator of ideas and building forms for me, so I begin all new projects with an analysis of your site. I look at the local conditions - climate, wind patterns, solar angles, topography, and other significant features - particular to your property. I overlay any local zoning restrictions (setbacks, etc.) on this plan and create a site diagram. This diagram usually begins to suggest candidate building sites and opportunities, which together, we’ll begin exploring in the next step.

The program is an architect’s way of saying, “list of rooms”. What will I be programming into your home? Chances are this has been percolating in your head for some time but we need to get it on paper and make it real.

I’ll ask you to make an exhaustive list of the spaces you’d like in your home to include. Treat it as a wish list of sorts (for now). For the major spaces, it’s also useful to describe the character of those spaces (wood ceilings, cozy, formal, low light, etc.) If you have particular needs regarding sizes or adjacencies of spaces, i.e. “the Komodo dragon enclosure must be at least 30x40”, it would be great to know that up front. Otherwise, I’ll develop and assign appropriately scaled spaces to your list of rooms as a starting point.

I’ll apply square footage estimates to this list of spaces and assign estimated dollar values to the total project square footage. Together we’ll compare the estimated cost of the home with your budget. If the two don’t align we’ll revisit the size + number of spaces for as long as it takes to reconcile the two. It’s much easier to align your budget with the size of the home before beginning the design process. The schematic design will follow, fixing ideas and expectations into an image of a home. Once this happens it’s much more difficult to give things up.

I’ll send you a detailed list of questions to help me find out more about you, your needs for the project, and as part of the search for an architectural idea to build the project on. This will get us all thinking about the specifics of design from the outset.

These drawings are required for all renovation + addition projects and vary with the size and complexity of the existing building.

It’s critical to understand the restrictions governing the subject property or structure before beginning schematic design. This review will tell us what’s possible and what isn’t. I’ll review the zoning, by-laws, and covenants which impact the property, review environmental issues, flood zones, and assess the overall permitting process. i will seek preliminary information from the city or district and engineering review as required.

It’s important to develop a basic schedule to make sure we’re meeting everyone’s expectations. The project schedule will be impacted by the following:

• Owner’s Schedule
• Designer Schedule
• Consultants’ Schedules
• Permitting Schedule
• Contractor’s Schedule + Availability

The schedule will change along the way we’ll use it to identify any constraints early on.

• Site Survey (digital) - showing property boundaries, roads, test pit sites, utilities, topography, known significant site features, and any existing structures.
• Existing Structure Floor plans (digital) as applicable. If you don’t have these, I will conduct an existing conditions survey for you.
• Soils test/septic design (assuming no public sewer access). I can suggest local designers that will work with us to find a suitable site (for both the building and the septic).
• List of any known restrictions (wetlands, permitting constraints, easements, etc.)
• Copy of your deed
• Client Questionnaire – this is a document I’ll provide for you to fill out. It’s a detailed list of questions designed to tell me more about you, your project and to define the project goals in a very granular way.

This phase is complete when you’ve agreed to the program and budget we’ve developed together. Then we can proceed to the next phase.

Basic design concept generation:
• Schematic Site Plan
• Schematic Floor Plans
• Sketch Elevations / 3D Model / VR Model
• Preliminary Cost Estimate

This is where the rough shape of the building and the ideas are formed. I’ll generate a couple of different design options for you to consider - two at a minimum (sometimes more) - using all of the information gathered in the previous step. I begin by drafting a narrative for the project, called a ‘parti’, which we’ll reference throughout the project. This seed idea is used to help us make decisions as the project becomes more detailed and better defined. It’s a rulebook of sorts.

I generally present the schematic ideas in loose sketch form on tracing paper as site and plan diagrams or models, physical or digital. These are not final ideas or fixed plans, they’re meant to be conceptually evocative and to incite new ideas and feedback from you.

We’ll meet and discuss the designs with the goal of narrowing the field to one preferred design concept; something we can move forward with. Often this design will borrow features from other schemes and become a hybridized solution. The phase concludes with your selection of a scheme to further develop.

Taking the schematic plan developed in the previous phase, I begin to create the drawings digitally. I locate it precisely on your site and think about how it will relate to the existing contour and consider how that will shape the building. I make the building real by drawing the floor plan - the walls, windows, + doors, and stairs. I define the exact sizes and relationships of the rooms, the overall volume of the building and generate the initial set of exterior elevations. I also begin thinking about materials, inside and out. Eventually we’ll know what every finish in every room is, but here we’ll conceptualize the framework for the material palette. The buildings systems will be developed in this phase as well – structural, mechanical, heating, lighting, and specialty controls.

We’ll usually meet to discuss the evolution of the design several times, each time refining the level of detail and decision.

This phase initiates our coordination with the various consultants that will bring their expertise to bear on the project. Because the work I do is very specific and it demands the highest quality we almost always use structural engineers. They ensure that our homes perform to our joint high level of expectation. Much of our work is directly exposed to high loading from snow and involving a structural engineer is a must.

Other consultants such as landscape, lighting or mechanical professionals can be brought in as necessary at this time. My design work extends to all parts of the interior from material selection, fixture selection, hardware, to all of the finishes and appliances. I find this produces the most cohesive design overall.

At phase completion you’ll have a set of drawings for what looks like a house, but not quite enough to build from:

• Site / Grading Plan
• Floor Plans ¼”
• Exterior Elevations ¼”
• Sections
• Interior Elevations
• Outline Specification
• Structural Concept
• Lighting Concept
• Mechanical Systems Concept

This phase fixes all of the information about the house into a detailed set of drawings and specifications that will be used by the Contractor for pricing and construction. Think of it as an instruction manual. Before beginning we’ll discuss whether you’d like to pursue a bid price contract or a negotiated contract and I’ll craft the drawings and level of detail in those drawings based on that decision. For a typical project, I generate the following drawings:

Site Plan
Floor Plan(s)
Foundation Plan
Exterior Elevations
Building Sections/Wall Sections
Interior Elevations
Details (interior/exterior)
Schedules (Door/Window/Hardware/Plumbing/Lighting/Finish/Appliance, etc.)
Structural Plans

I’ll submit the project for local permitting near the beginning of this phase to ensure any necessary changes can be folded in before the drawings are finalized.

The construction documents phase will require less input from you as most of the decisions will have already been made. If there are outstanding finish selections or cabinetry design decisions we’ll meet to confirm those.

Aid in contract award/negotiation with General Contractor:

This is a separate phase but it typically occurs alongside other phases of the work, especially if the contractor you’re seeking is in high demand. There are typically two means of selecting a contractor – by competitive bidding or by negotiated contract.

Bid Contract:
We agree on two (or more) contractors to competitively price the construction documents. This results in a fixed bid price for construction based on the drawings and specifications, what we refer to as the contract documents. The bidders must be of equal quality because high-end custom builders and production builders will naturally arrive at different numbers and make the process less useful.

Bidding requires a tight set of drawings with no room for confusion or interpretation. Any undefined scope of work is an opportunity for a bidder to make an assumption (which is always based on cost) and that’s an opportunity for a change order during construction. As you might imagine, these detailed coordinated drawings take more time to develop and will increase the design fee.

With a tight set of drawings the materials are known quantities (windows, doors, finishes) and the only real differences between bids should be the individual builder’s varying overhead and profit percentages. This number is typically a negotiated percentage.

The bidders will submit their prices and list of subcontractors to you and together we’ll evaluate the bids and award the contract to the contractor of your choice. This does not have to be the low bidder.

• Validates the cost of construction among a pool of builders

• Adversarial build process – more change orders, finger pointing
• Subcontract quality is subject to the quality of the low bidder (GC’s choice)
• Low bidders may feel pressure to compromise quality
• Up front drawing/design fees are higher to ensure drawings are complete
• Some local Contractors won’t participate in the bid process at all
• More time to conduct the bid process and award the contract

Negotiated Contract:
Also known as a T&M (time & materials) or Cost-Plus contract, this arrangement bills for the actual cost of the work plus an agreed upon (negotiated) fee. It’s a collaborative process that involves the Contractor in the design process helping to develop and refine pricing along the way. It guarantees them the contract at the end of construction documents phase and builds trust between all parties.

The contract can be structured either with or without a guaranteed maximum price and incentivized in different ways.

• Collaborative build process
• Bigger pool of qualified contractors available to choose from (this is the locally preferred means of construction)
• Lower design fees, things can be worked out in the field without change orders.
• Develop a working relationship and trust through the design process
• Saves the time of the bid process
• Flexibility – changes reflect real costs not low bidder making up for his low number
• Schedule is everything with this structure, without a fixed price ceiling delays can quickly increase the overall cost to build

I prefer the negotiated contract because it’s more collaborative and seeks to quantify a competitive cost throughout the process with an engaged builder. Most local contracts are negotiated contracts - some have not-to-exceed maximums and some don’t. With either structure, I’ll assist in negotiating and fine tuning the costs involved and facilitate the signature of the appropriate AIA contract agreement.

Having a good builder on board will help to price your project fairly and make the construction process much less stressful – even enjoyable. Building consensus, mutual respect and an investment in the project means we’re all working toward the same goal, which inevitably results in a better home for you.

Oversee construction + administration of the contract and construction on site:

After the contract is awarded and construction begins, I act as your agent on-site, monitor progress, review applications for payment, and ensure conformance with the contract documents. I don’t tell the contractor how to do his work; I just make sure he’s doing the things he’s contractually promised to do.

This is a crucial part of the process and I strongly advocate (YOU MAY REQUIRE INVOLVEMENT) being involved during construction. Not only does it ensure that all of the hard work we put in designing your vision is executed properly and according to the drawings we crafted, but I also find that it holds the Contractor to a higher standard of quality.

Invariably, there are things that I‘m just not able to draw or anticipate during the Construction Documents phase. Involving me in the Construction Observation phase allows the project design vision to be integrated into the details of the home seamlessly. Architects and Contractors think very differently – which is good – but not every Contractor’s decision balances function and aesthetics.

I visit the site weekly to meet with the Contractor + Subcontractors to answer any questions and review progress + conformance with the Contract Documents. I create a private project website for you where I post progress photos and send a weekly field report.

I review and certify the Contractor’s payment requisitions and review any change order requests. For work that requires clarification or alteration I’ll issue ‘sketches’ to facilitate the Contractor’s work.

At ‘Substantial Completion’ I work with the Contractor to generate a punch list and oversee its execution. And, at the end of the project I’ll issue a ‘certificate of final completion’ and authorize the release of the final payment.

This phase ends with the completed project, ready to move in.

We turn your custom made space into Virtual reality and have our clients inhabit the space. This allows our clients to make quick design decisions.