We design homes that weather the test of time,
so that our clients may live well within them for generations.
Why Fourth Dimension Architecture?
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do I start?
• Click here to download a free copy of 100 Design Questions an Architect May Ask You. The more questions you can answer in advance, the smoother your project will go!
Why do I need an architect?
• An architect can see the problems ahead and solve them in advance by asking the right questions at the appropriate time. • If you want to build a habitable space that needs structure, plumbing or electricity, an architect’s or engineer’s stamped drawings are required by law to secure a building permit. (Mileage may vary by state and local jurisdiction.) • If you want your building customized to your lifestyle, hire an architect. You don’t need an architect to buy a house off the shelf. You need one to tailor a home uniquely to you. • For many people, a home is the single largest investment of their lives. Such an endeavor deserves a team of professionals who will do the project justice. • An architect can translate your dreams and constraints into construction jargon by computer, on paper and out loud to the many different officials and trades you’ll need to see your project through.
What does an architect do?
• Architects are legally responsible to design buildings that are compliant with all the codes and regulations that apply, including: life, safety, welfare, energy efficiency, accessibility, local zoning and more. • Before any design begins, an architect checks that your project is feasible within local requirements, and measures any buildings that exist on the property. • An architect tailors the design to meet your specific wish list and budget needs. • An architect must make the building structurally sound, healthy to live in and safe to escape in an emergency. • An architect provides construction documents which become your contract with a builder, and explain the project to the local jurisdiction issuing the building permit. • An architect helps you find a builder and compares builder quotes apples-to-apples. • An architect observes the builder's progress to make sure they are building what was ordered in the construction documents. • An architect is a resource for the lifetime of the building to troubleshoot its performance over time and to make changes as your needs grow.
Does an architect save me money?
• Yes, by strategically planning the building itself to optimize your expenses so you get the most bang for your buck on what matters. • Yes, by showing you what you’re getting before you build it - more considerations during design results in fewer changes during construction and unexpected costs. • Yes, an architect can tailor the design to your contractor's most cost-effective options, such as materials they work with most often. • Yes, by talking shop with the builder and translating for you what it means to the timeline and bottom line.
Questions to Ask an Architect
How does your process work?
• I ask the important questions at the right time. If you’re building a new single-family house, I already have 230 questions for you, plus all the questions unique to your project that will come up as we work through the design. • The design is divided into phases: Existing Conditions, Schematic Design, Design Development and Construction Documents. Then Bidding + Negotiation with the contractor, followed by the Construction Phase.
What kind of architecture do you do?
• I specialize in single-family residential architecture.
Are you licensed and insured?
• Yes, I'm licensed in New York State and I carry Professional Liability Insurance. • On NY’s Office of the Professions website, you can verify the registration of any NY architect.
What will my project cost?
• I will advise you how your choices during design impact construction costs. • The post-pandemic construction industry operates on a time + materials cost estimating system. For this reason, the contractor is the best person to identify total project costs.
When can you start?
• I will provide a proposal for my services within a week after discussing your project. • I usually have a waiting list of 2 - 6 months before I can begin.
Questions to Consider Before Hiring an Architect
What are the 3 most important goals of your project?
• Establish a wish list • Include every ideal you can think of • Organize it in priority order with the 'must have' items at the top and the 'may sacrifice' items at the bottom.
What is your budget?
• There are 2 ways to design for a budget: • (1) Do you prefer to design everything you ever wanted, get a cost for it all in phases, then subtract until you reach your budget? • (2) Do you prefer to set a budget, aim for 10% below it, and make design sacrifices as you go? • Do you have independent funds or are you planning to seek financing? • Identify the limit of investment for your property - what is the most you are willing to spend? • Subtract "soft costs" (architect's fee, permit fees, landscaping, furnishings, etc.) to identify your construction budget.
What is your timeline?
• The design process for a typical new single-family residence can take 9 - 12 months, depending on the complexity of your project and how quickly you make decisions.
What are your inspirations?
• Gather photos of spaces that inspire you • Products you'd like to use • Colors that bring you joy • Anything that motivates you to make your house a home
Do you have a builder?
• Do you have someone you trust, someone you've worked with before, or someone who was recommended to you? • Do you want help finding a builder?
Do you have any drawings?
• Did your closing documents include a survey drawing that maps the property boundaries? • Do you have drawings from a previous architect?
Are you aware of any property constraints?
• Does your deed mention any covenants, variances or special approvals? • Do you have a homeowner's association?
What's your decision-making style?
• If there are two or more decision-makers, do you divide decision responsibilities, or do you review and decide together? • Do you prefer to take some time to fully think it through? • Do you prefer to decide right away, move on and live with the consequences?
What does your house mean to you?
• Is your house a place where your family will grow up together? • Is it your private retreat from the hustle and bustle? • Is it the place where you gather for holidays? • Is it a canvas to display family photos, mementos, culture and history? • Is it an investment, a safety net, or a hobby project? • Is your house a home? If it is, why? If not, what does it need to become a home?
What People Say
Trudeau Building Restoration
Liz asks prescient questions about the project,
drawing on her ability to see where we need to go,
not just where we are today.