Over 40 years of Architecture Experience with International Recognition

Frequently Asked Questions

How much are your architectural fees?

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There are several methods used to calculate design fees. We recommend you do some market research on line as well and get a couple competitive bids. If you do get a couple prices, its important that you give both parties the same exact instructions and scope of work so you know you are comparing 'apples to apples'. We would be happy to provide your project a template to request a proposal that can be used to solicit as many architects as you want.


For Windward Design, this is how we calculate our services and fees:

Level One Services - 3.5% of construction costs, services would include the following:

  • Concept design services including a maximum of 4 plan adjustments until you get the floor plan and elevation you want to move forward into construction documents
  • 3D modeling, using Sketch Up so the client can see the structure on the site and be able to see the general indoor arrangement and sense of space
  • presentation colored plans and elevations, building development summary that may be required for local community planning approval
  • a 'builders set of drawings' basic drawings and specifications needed to for 'plan check' approval by the local building department
  • This is for architectural design, additional consultants are required by the local building department, and we will explain that in subsequent FAQ's below

Level Two Services-3.75% 

  • All of level one services noted above
  • Add schematic cabinet design layout for use by cabinet builders to provide cabinet bids

Level Three Services-4%

  • All of level one & two services

Add contractor bid and selection assistance that includes

  • drafting request for bid forms
  • answering question and providing bid addendum information consistent with all bidders
  • evaluating bids for completeness
  • assisting in 'vetting' the contractor candidates

Level Four Services-5%

  • All of Levels One through Three Services
  • Add construction review services that include payment request reviews, processing change order requests from either the owner or the contractor, reviewing submittals from the contractor for compliance with design and permit documents.



How much should I budget for development costs?

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Its important to look at total development costs, that include construction costs. Total development costs(excluding land purchase) would include:

  • Design and Engineering
  • Plan check processing
  • Building Permits and other municipal fees
  • The Contractors scope of work that has been contracted, ie the building, site work, utility hook ups, interior finishes and installations
  • Owner supplied and installed equipment not in the construction contract
  • construction loan interest
  • temporary utilities during construction


Other unique site conditions could also come into play.

Construction costs can vary just for the building even within the same geographic area, simply because contractors know some areas can tolerate higher prices for the same work done cheaper elsewhere. For example building a house in Laguna Beach can easily cost over $300 sf for the same construction size and quality say in Murrieta, Califorina that would be about $150 sf.

We work closely with several contractors and developers  for residential work, so we can update our opinion of cost regularly. This is important at the beginning of the design process so the project stays in the budget goals of our clients.

As a specific example of one project recently quoted to me in 2019: A 2,400 sf house with a 2 car garage, grading and retaing walls for the garage under the house, design, permits, septic,, minimal basic landscape for a spec house in Escondido was completed for $185 sf of the residential space.

Besides an Architect, what other consultants do i want or need?

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We use to do our own structural engineering which is legally permitted for architects to do. However we have found its worth the extra fees for a structural engineer to the developers. This is because they are more expertise in using the code structural formulas so the structural system is not over engineered, saving substantial cost to the developer in areas such as shear walls and beam sizes.


If your project is 'raw' land that requires a grading permit we would recommend these basic consultants:

  • Civil engineer for the site development engineering
  • The Architect
  • Structural engineer
  • Title 24 energy consultant

(if the site is already a graded pad, the architect can normally provide the necessary drawings and specs to obtain a permit)


Other works we feel can most economically include design with the construction, thereby reducing your costs are:

  • Detailed cabinet work
  • Interior Finishes and equipment furnishings
  • Landscape
  • Solar

All of these can be done with contractors, vendors or fabricators that are providing the work, in what we call 'design/build' agreements, saving significant design fees. My experience you get much better and more practical 'design' for these works from the contractors and vendors of this work.

What type of architectural style should the project be?

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We can do any style you want for your project.  We don't forget, this is your investment not ours. 

For us the key elements for the design process is to solve the design challenge to your satisfaction.  The 'style' whether its a minimalist, historical or regional or rendition of some other classical style such California Bungalow, Wright, Irving Gill, Kendrick Kellog organic,,ultimately our goal is to make it uniquely your own form based on meeting your 'functional' requirements.

As an example, a developer client was doing a complete remodel of a 1970's house and wanted an updated finish out and new look for this property in Rancho Santa Fe. As they went through several strategies we explored to radically different architectural styles.



What are some design strategies or principals to guide the development?

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We are all on board with the concept that developing a residence should be approached as an investment. We would go one step further and say it should be viewed as a business venture. To a developer this is understood from the outset of the project design, but may be less thought of for first time home builders.

Here are some thoughts I consider in developing a residential project:

  • Develop the project with an exit strategy that will yield a net profit and income
  • Remember to design not just for yourself but future potential buyers
  • Be careful not to over capitalize the project and forcing your exit strategy date out too far
  • Don't be the most expensive development in the market area
  • If you can design the property so it can generate real month to month income over and above the speculative long term gain in value
  • From one of my present clients I quote " I always develop or buy a property with the idea that I could sell it tomorrow and make $50,000 over what I invested in it"

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It is not all about money when considering a design solution:

Be aware of the site and what it offers you, for views, privacy and what I call the 'big money scene',,that special quality of space or feature that will make it a unique property

Part of the design solution can rest outside the zone of what you are actually building, see the case study below


Beach area property project

Pictured above, the owner of this property was saddled with a 1,000 sf 2 bedroom house and an unpermitted structure from the previous owner. By working with the municipality they were able to get variances to replace the unpermitted cottage in the back and get the property re-zoned to R3, allowing them to convert this single residence property into an income producing beach area property that can produce over $8,000 in monthly rental income. In the final product the property had one 2 bedroom house, two studio apartments and a tandem garage!