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Frequently Asked Questions

Helping You Navigate the Building and Design Process

We know that building or remodeling a home is a big commitment of your time and money, and we want to make sure you have all your questions answered before a single wall goes up. Below are some common questions that we’ve encountered during various custom residential and commercial design projects.

I’ve purchased a piece of land. What’s the first step to build my house?

To get your house built the construction project must be approved by the town hall. You will want to check early in the process with the technical services of the town hall to verify any requirements which might restrict your new home construction project.

What are the aspects of design that need to be considered when planning a new home?

These are the most common areas of design that should be addressed when planning a new home:

  1. Property’s specifications (dimensions, soil, inclination, trees, etc)
  2. Zoning/building codes
  3. Views, sun and winds’ orientation
  4. Lifestyle
  5. Present and future needs
I already know how I want my house laid out and what I want it to look like. Do I need an architect?

Architects are specialists at finding solutions that will add value to your home and make it a more enjoyable place to live. The goal is to have a house that fits your unique lifestyle. A new home is a large investment and the resources you invest now in a good design will pay off for years to come. A good architect can help you design solutions and select materials for your home that will reduce the maintenance, saving you money throughout the lifetime of your building.

The architect will help you refine your ideas, desires and expectations to create a home that is a unique expression of your personal goals. A good design will maximize the returns on your financial investment, and will be perfectly adjusted to your unique lifestyle.

Do you help me find a contractor?

Depending on the process and the type of contract you want to use, we’ll help you find one or several contractors to estimate or bid your project. Often we’ll recommend a company we’ve worked with in the past or a company we know that has a good reputation. If we haven’t worked with them, we’ll help you determine if they are qualified to construct your project.

Many times, we are recommending moving the contractor selection process toward the beginning of the design process in order to help guarantee contractor availability and to assist in pricing and constructibility issues through the design process. We’ll help you determine the best process for your project and the appropriate time to select a contractor.

Do I need to hire an interior designer to design the interiors of the project?

For most of our projects an interior designer is not necessary unless you need help choosing a significant amount of furniture, rugs, window coverings, and decorative accessories. Typically we, as architects, design and specify everything attached to the interiors of your project such as tile, wood flooring, carpet, cabinets, appliances, plumbing fixtures, and even paint colors. During the architectural design process we always draw appropriately scaled furniture in our plans to be sure the spaces we design will be flexible for furniture arrangements. When clients want to keep certain pieces of furniture, we measure them and include them in our drawings to be sure they fit.

For some projects, an interior designer can be a great asset. When this is the case, we recommend bringing them in to the design process early for the best results.

Don’t architects add substantial cost to a project?

While it’s true that architects’ fees are an additional project cost, hiring an architect can actually save you money in many ways. Architects can monitor your budget and negotiate to get the best materials and workmanship at a good price. An architect’s design can reduce energy and maintenance costs. They can turn a difficult lot into a successful building site. And they spend time planning and fully developing your ideas to avoid changes once construction is underway.

How are architects compensated?

An architect’s compensation can be based on time, a stipulated sum, a percentage of the cost of the work, the project’s square footage, unit cost (based on number of rooms/apartments, etc.), or royalty in which compensation is a share of the profit derived from the project. Time-based compensation and stipulated sums are most common.

What’s my role in the design process?

Your architect will depend on you to communicate about your design preferences, functional requirements, and budget. Your timely response to questions and design submissions will help keep the project on track. It is also important for you to raise any concerns you have as the project proceeds, so they can be addressed in the earliest stages. Working in partnership with your architect, you will help ensure the best possible outcome for your project.

When should I contact an architect?

It is in your best interest and the interest of your project to speak with a local architect the moment you begin to consider building a home.

If you haven’t purchased a property yet, the architect can help you understand the benefits or disadvantages of each site and requirements of building in a certain area.

A local architect will be your personal advisor to guide you through the complex process of building a home in Portugal. He will help you avoid the common pitfalls that can cost you unnecessary time and expense. He will give you the proper advice to guide your project to success.

More questions?

We understand that building a new home can be overwhelming, and that you may have questions and concerns about the process. We are available to answer any additional questions you may have about any of our design services.