FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS2020-06-10T18:24:17+00:00


About Home Design & Construction

Clients often have questions about working with a residential architect.

Here are some common concerns and their answers.

Please feel free to contact us with your own questions.

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Why should I hire an architect?2020-03-24T04:17:00+00:00


Design and construction is a complex and often expensive undertaking that requires professional training. Creative design, an understanding of construction technologies, structural design, a mechanical & electrical engineering design team, knowledge of pricing, and ability to coordinate lots of complex technical information with a diverse team of people is what an architect will bring to your project. It is the time-proven best way to get a building designed and built. Staying with in your budget and schedule has to be coordinated by an experienced design professional. Without an architect, you will be unlikely to meet your goals and you will be subject to a lot of risk during this process.

Why do you charge for initial consultations?2020-03-24T04:25:33+00:00


Because of our 20+ years of experience, we provide a lot more information and value in an initial consultation than other design professionals. We call this initial consultation a Home Project Review. During the home project review, we 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. We also offer FREE phone consultations if costs are a concern.

What value does an architect bring to a project?2020-03-24T04:16:59+00:00


An architect can provide an unsurpassed level of comfort for you, relationship building, cost control, management of the project team, creativity, scheduling, clear communications, construction knowledge, contract documents, cost estimates, quality control, risk protection…all for you.
What payment methods do you accept?2020-03-27T18:51:57+00:00


Home Architect Studio accepts cash, checks, home equity checks and money orders. We also provide payment options for credit cards, yet need to charge a 3.5% credit card charge to cover the transaction costs.

What is the difference between a designer and an architect?2020-03-24T04:16:59+00:00


A designer is not licensed.

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.  Architects are also required to have a working knowledge of building systems, such as structure, heating & cooling, plumbing, electrical, and many more.

What do architectural services cost?2020-03-24T04:17:00+00:00


Compensation for architectural services varies greatly, and is the same as asking “How much does a car cost?”

The rate of compensation really depends on the complexity of the project; as a rule of thumb, most projects have fees that range anywhere from 3% to 15% of the construction cost.  The first step in understanding costs is to have a conversation with an architect before any design is initiated. Our phone consultation is an option if you are still in the early phases of your project.

My contractor says he can design/build my project. What do you offer that is different?2020-03-24T04:30:41+00:00


There are some advantages to design/build that appeal to many people. How we are different is that as an architect, licensed by the state, we have the duty to act as your agent during the project and to ALWAYS look out for your best interests.  Our experience at being involved in 100s of construction projects makes us your expert and advocate through the course of municipal approvals and construction.
My contractor said that I don’t need an architect2021-01-28T20:36:58+00:00


You need an architect and a contractor because each brings separate and necessary skills to make your project a success.

An architect provides creative design skills, an engineering team, detailed documents for bidding and construction, and is the owner’s eyes and ears on the project to ensure quality construction as well as protect the owner’s interests. An architect is your representative and minimizes your risk in all your interactions with the contractor and subcontractors. In residential architecture, this is often crucial to the success of the project.

In addition to designing your project, we can also provide construction management services where the questions between you, the builder, and the architect disappear as we will manage your project from the beginning until the day you move in.

Looking for more proof that hiring an architect is worth it? Take a look at this Popular Mechanics article for great insight.

And if you ready for a chat? Schedule your FREE Architect Consultation. We would be happy to help with your project.

I want to build a home addition. Where do I start?2021-06-02T18:16:44+00:00


It would be best to meet with an architect or builder before your start your project.


However, BEWARE of the FREE ESTIMATE. The free estimate is typically worth what you paid for. It’s strictly an opinion based on the current conversation. So many items like material costs, labor availability, and a variety of unknowns could cause your FREE ESTIMATE TO BE WORTHLESS. Your first step is to speak with a professional to understand the process, and your limitations.  

Have any other questions about your home project?
We can help. Click here to schedule your FREE Architect Consultation.

How much should I pay in NJ property taxes for a renovated home?2021-06-02T18:29:01+00:00


Rates of property taxes and property assessments are controlled by each municipality and vary significantly. Most tax assessors in New Jersey are open to reviewing your floor plans to provide you with a rough estimate on your expected property taxes. We recommend you contact your local tax assessor upon completion of the design and before filing for permits. This will provide you with the best estimate on your property taxes before you incur any permitting costs.

Have any other questions about your home project?
We can help. Click here to schedule your FREE Architect Consultation.

How do I find the right architect for my project?2021-03-25T19:04:36+00:00


Home projects are complicated, and often lead to a great amount of stress. It is important to find an trusted architect who makes you feel comfortable, cherishes open communication, and who can handle the stress on your behalf. It’s also important to find an architect with experience in your project type.
  • Commercial architects are specialists in commercial spaces.
  • Residential architects are great in designing homes.

A quick online search for a nearby architect or reviewing a website like Houzz can serve as an important first step in your search; you should also seek referrals from those you know who’ve worked with the architect in the past.

Looking for an architect who specializes in home design?
We can help. Click here to schedule your FREE Architect Consultation.


Do I need an architect to remodel my house?2021-03-25T19:51:21+00:00


Short answer is “it depends.”

For most paint and refinishing projects, the answer is typically no.
Unless you would like your architect to chose your finishes. 😊

For larger projects, like removing a load bearing wall or having an addition built the answer is YES.
You should really have an architect assist you in its design and construction documentation. And if you are fortunate enough to live near an architect who can help with the construction (like us 👷‍♂️) then he or she can also build the project for you.

As we mentioned before, it depends.😎

Have any other questions about your remodeling project?
We can help. Click here to schedule your FREE Architect Consultation.

Do I need a full set of architectural drawings and specifications?2020-03-24T04:17:00+00:00


You will save a lot of money with a good set of architectural drawings and specifications.

The contractors will have very clear and complete information to enable them to prepare a very competitive bid. Vague or incomplete drawings will leave too many items unclear and result in higher prices, delays, and change order costs. You will usually save most of the architect’s fee when you open your contractors’ bids because a complete set of plans and specifications has eliminated virtually all of the unknowns that drive your costs higher.

Can you provide references?2020-03-27T18:49:10+00:00


Yes we can! To protect our client’s privacy, we only provide references upon request.

Can I draw my own house plans?2021-01-28T20:34:02+00:00


The simple answer is YES only if you live in New Jersey and the drawings are for your own home.


Now the question should be; do you want to draw your own house plans?


Its the same as if you asked yourself:
  • Do I want to fix my own car?
  • Do I want to write my own will?
  • Do I want to replace my own roof?
  • Do I want to install this beam by myself?
  • Do I want to cook my own meal every night?

All of these tasks you can technically complete by yourself. But do you want to?

If the answer is yes & you have the wear withal, then we wish you the best of luck on this great task.

Just remember one very important thing; if anything goes wrong you can blame only blame YOURSELF.

Not really interested in drawing up your own house plans?
We can help. Click here to schedule your FREE Architect Consultation.


DESIGN your home project

Why do you require a phone conversation before we meet?2021-03-20T04:43:49+00:00


We use email and text communication a lot through the process of a project but, we believe the first conversation should be done over the phone. This allows both of us to determine whether or not our firm and you as our client is a good fit. There are many projects that don’t fit our company profile and process and we would rather have a conversation first, to make sure not to waste your time with a meeting.

Click here to schedule your FREE architect phone consultation.

Why do you charge for initial at home design consultations?2021-03-20T04:46:47+00:00


Because of our 20+ years of experience, we provide a lot more information and value in an initial consultation than other design professionals. We call this initial consultation a Home Project Review. During the home project review, we 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. We also offer FREE phone consultations if costs are a concern.

When can you start the design on my project?2020-03-24T04:17:00+00:00


We can begin work on your project as soon as the project details are agreed to and a contract is signed.
This will ensure we understand your expectations and agree to the details of your project.
Based on current workloads, we are seeing a range of 7-14 days before we can initiate a new project.
What is the difference between Schematic Design and Construction documents?2020-03-24T04:16:59+00:00


An architect will create schematic design drawings before completing construction documents.
Schematic design drawings have a minimal amount of information on the drawings. Information such as the wall locations, room dimensions, room names, door sizes, window sizes, roofs, decks, porches, balconies, and fixtures, so the client can see exactly what the design will look like. This stage is where changes should occur before going to final drawings.
Once the schematic design is approved, the architect completes the construction documents.
The construction documents contain all the relevant building information necessary to build the project. The construction documents show all notes, construction details, dimensions, materials, and so much more. The construction documents are primarily for the owner to obtain building permits,  contractors to build from and to obtain bids/estimates from the construction team members in order to see the total project cost..
What is a variance?2020-12-21T05:46:40+00:00


A variance is a “variation” from the local township’s Zoning Code for a certain type of construction or use.

Variances are typically granted by a Board of Adjustment or Zoning Board.

Variances are only granted in special situations, as they would essentially provide a basis for future variances. They should be viewed only as a last resort option, due to costs and time. Variances basically allow the applicant to be permitted to violate a city zoning ordinance while all other citizens must still be required to abide by it. That is why variances are only granted when conditions at the property are so unusual that they warrant such a special treatment.

For example a typical variance is to allow someone to construct a new home closer to the rear property line than is permitted by the Zoning Code because the land configuration does not permit them to build any other way.

What building codes do you use in design?2020-03-30T16:03:07+00:00


Currently in the State of New Jersey, the following building codes are adopted:
I just need “plans” or blueprints drawn for my permit. Can you do that?2020-03-31T13:55:36+00:00


We can create permit drawings for you as long as we are completing the design, which ensures that our clients needs are met and that building codes are being followed.

Note: Having a design in mind already, will help speed up the process.

How often are your invoices processed?2021-03-20T04:46:34+00:00


Home Architect Studio issues invoices on a regular basis two week basis for larger projects, and immediately upon completed completion of smaller projects. Initial retainers are used as a credit toward the final payment. Feel free to contact our billing department for further information.

How long does it take an architect to draw up house plans?2021-01-31T04:37:35+00:00


Drawing up floor plans depends on a multitude of factors. We have seen projects take one month to some taking over a year to complete.
First drafts take anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks.The speed to draw up house plans depends on:
  • The size of the project
  • The complexity of the project
  • Availability of the client to review the progress
  • How quickly decisions could be made
  • The details needed to build it
  • Defining who will build it.(General Contractor, DIY, Construction Manager, etc)
  • The project plan  on how it will be build

Looking for a more realistic timeline to draw plans? We can help.

Schedule your FREE Architect Consultation now

Do you design energy-efficient homes with environmentally friendly materials?2020-03-24T04:17:00+00:00


Absolutely whenever we can. With our principals being LEED professionals, we strive to provide our clients with the most sustainable design when possible. Here’s a quick list of what we generally put in our homes:

  • 95% efficient furnace
  • 2×6 exterior walls
  • dual-pane vinyl windows
  • R-50 fiberglass insulation for ceilings
  • R-23 fiberglass insulation for walls


BUILD your home project

What types of insurance should a contractor carry?2021-03-20T04:34:50+00:00


General Contractors should carry at least three types of insurance:

  • New Jersey state Home Improvement Contractor license
  • Workman’s compensation
  • Comprehensive general liability (CGL).

You should require proof of insurance before allowing a contractor to begin work on your property. As an architect led construction management firm we can manage all of the license proof and insurance proof  before your home project begins.

To help verify your contractor’s license, feel free to use the NJ License Verification tool.

How to obtain a building permit?2020-03-24T04:16:59+00:00


The process to obtain a permit is similar in most towns.

Step 1. Client should consult with an architect, who will help guide them through this process. Once an architect is retained, then he will need a survey and your zoning.

Step 2.  Zoning Analysis. Once an architect is retained, he or she will need a survey documenting your property’s zoning information. If you don’t have the zoning information, your architect can call the town to find out what it is.  The architect will then perform a zoning analysis, and see what you will be permitted to do with your property. Every town has different requirements, so it is an important step to make sure the design doesn’t go down a path where the project can’t be built.  You can ask the town for a zoning variance, if your property has issues, or a design MUST be a certain way, or you desire to make a building which does not conforming to its zoning requirements.  Some towns are easier than others when trying to get a zoning variance, yet application for a zoning variance is never guaranteed.

Step 3. Design Phase. After zoning analysis, there will be a design phase. Your architect will go over your space needs for your building or house. When the design is complete, the architect will move the project into the construction documents phase. The construction documents are what are used  by the the contractors to build the project as as well as to obtain a building permit.

The architect can then offer you permitting services, or you can take the plans to the town yourself. There you will need to fill out all the required paperwork, and upon the building department’s approval you will obtain a permit. The permitting process can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks to obtain, depending on the building department’s work load. In the event you will need a variance, a denial letter will be required from the building department prior to going before the planning board for a variance.

How long does the home construction process take?2020-03-24T04:16:59+00:00


The construction process will vary greatly based on the following:

  • Size & scope of project
  • Contractor availability
  • Materials used for the project

It also really depends on your selected construction team members. For example if one of the construction team members is very busy, their start date will be farther than a similar team member who is not as busy with work. The materials used will also vary the construction time frame due to associated labor intensity. Brick houses typically take longer to build than a vinyl sided house.  The more labor intensive the home’s materials, the longer it will take to build.   A typical residential addition on a house can take about 2-6 months to complete, if the proper project management is in place.

Having a proper construction schedule in place with all team members committing to it from day one is the best way to have a successful project completed.

Do you need a Building Permit?2020-10-30T19:42:16+00:00


The first thing you should know is whether your home project requires a permit. Most towns & cities have their building permit requirements on their website. If not, a phone call to your local Building Department is the best first step.

Generally, cosmetic work you perform inside your home doesn’t need a permit. Things like flooring changes, painting and updating bathroom fixtures don’t usually require special permission.

Any major remodel to a kitchen or bathroom may need one, especially if you move plumbing, gas lines or electrical lines. If you want to finish a basement a building permit is definitely required.

Outside work such as roofing projects and siding may need a permit. Although, recent legislation in New Jersey may have permitting removed from roofing and siding.

Decks may also confuse homeowners. Most towns require permits for a deck attached to a home, or a 30 inch and higher unattached deck.

To avoid confusion over whether or not you need a permit, take a few minutes and do your homework. Building without one would cause trouble down the road in the way of code violations, fines, and possibly preventing you from selling your home. Good Luck!

Have any additional questions for the Home Architect Studio team?

Schedule an appointment below to speak with one of our principals.
We would be happy to help you with your home related questions.

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