When do I need to involve an Architect?
The sooner the better for most medium to large scale projects. It provides direction and clarity to you and your Builders. On smaller scale projects, you can often go straight to your Builder and get a rough estimate on the cost before you pay to have plans drawn up.
How much does it cost per square foot to build?
Cost is driven by things like interior finishes, Green features and special engineering that can drive the price of a building up considerably. Some of these things cannot be seen with the naked eye, but can save you money in the long run. The best course of action is to have an honest conversation with your Builder and explain to them what your taste in finishes are, how important energy conservation is to you and any special ideas you may have about the house. A rough estimate on a price per SF can usually be given then, but keep in mind, it is only an educated guess until you have plans drawn up and finishes selected.
What energy saving/Green technologies should I incorporate into my project?
This answer has to be attacked from multiple angles. Length of time you depend to stay in the home, current age of the systems in place, how important is saving the environment versus saving your wallet, which products are truly the best for the way your family lives, etc. Some Green technologies are under developed, but get hyped as the next big thing. While saving the planet should be important to all of us, we have to weigh the practicality, the initial investment, the return on investment and how the technology seamlessly integrates into your environment and make an informed decision from there.
Should we renovate, add on or move?
Before answering this question, there are many questions that should be answered. How much space do you need, can we reconfigure underutilized space in your current home, how well do you like your neighborhood, what are the market conditions at the time for buying/selling, could you sell your current space, what is your budget? All these factors should be discussed beforehand with your family, and then with your Architect/Builder to determine the best course of action. We have often times told clients that it is in their best interest to move into a brand new house versus undertaking a home renovation. While this may cause us to lose a job in the present, we are more interested in building lifelong clients than securing a job right now that is not right for our clients.