Recently, a potential client asked Hauck Architecture about the possability of incorporating a car lift into his new home. This residential project was a new single family home on a small, ocean front lot in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego. Every square inch of the property was extrememly valuable. Taking up more site area for parking would not be the most efficient use of the real estate. The idea was to provide a car lift in order to park one car on top of another, while only taking up a one parking space footprint. This may sound like a unique request. But, in a high value real estate areas, it is not unusual. While reading through the latest issue of Residential Design + Build magazine, I came across an article that addresses this exact request. The Phantom Lift from American Custom Lifts in Escondido, CA is a beautifully integrated automotive lift that makes the most of each square foot. If you have a unique parking situation, be sure to discuss all the options with your AIA Architect. The solution my be something you could have never imagined.
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Or should I have spelled it l-e-a-d? On April 22, 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed into law a requirement that any contractor performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb more than six square feet of paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and trained to follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. Lead poisoning can lead to a number of ailments including but not limited to brain and nervous system damage, reproductive problems and headaches. Before your next remodel or addition project, be sure to ask your architect and contractor about the new lead-safe requirements. In addition, if you are buying, selling or renting a pre-1978 home, be sure any known information about lead based paints and/or hazards is disclosed. Find our more from the EPA's lead web site.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the EPA has postponed enforcement of the new lead paint regulation. Builders and members of congress argued that the government staff isn't ready with trained officials. Safety precautions still need to be followed but enforcement has been pushed back to October. Contractors have until the end of September to sign up for training and must complete training by the end of the year.
When executing a construction contract with your contractor, there are many things to look for.Your Architect can help negotiate this contract but it is important to look for several key items to protect yourself and your contractor.
- The latest set of construction documents should be included as an defined part of the contract. These plans should be called out in the contract by the issue date on the drawings. If changes are made during the project, these changes should be marked on these documents directly, initialed and dated by both you and the contractor.
- The contract should clearly define the project start and finish dates with provisions for overruns and possible incentives to the contractor for completing the project early.
- In addition to start and finish dates, there should also be work day start and finish times. And, what days of the week workers will be at your home should also be defined. The contractor is responsible for getting the work done during normal working hours. There are laws that dictate when construction activities can occur.
- The contract should clearly state how change orders will be handled. Who is responsible, timeliness, and payment terms should be outlined.
- Any good contractor should warrant his work for at least one year. Make sure it's in the construction contract.
- If there is a disagreement, there should be a binding arbitration clause in the contract. This can avoid costly lawyer fees by resolving an issue via arbitration.
- There should be a statement of how the contract can be canceled, if either the contractor or the owner finds reasonable cause to exit from the contract.
- All construction contracts should include a statement that the contractor will provide affidavits of final release, final payment or final lien waiver from all subcontractors and suppliers. This will release the owner from responsibility for payment to the sub-contractors. The general contractor should be responsible for payments to the sub-contractors.
Protect yourself and your project. Any good contractor should know all of these items and already have them as part of his basic contract template. Consult with your Architect should any questions about your construction contract arise.
Few people realize how complicated it is to build. That is until they find themselves lost in the maze of design options, building codes, zoning laws, contractors, and so on. Regardless of whether you're planning residential or commercial, urban or rural, single- or multi-family construction-no two building projects are exactly alike. There is no single, clear-cut path to follow.
An Architect is a professional who has the education, training, experience, and vision to guide you through the entire design and construction process, from helping you define what you want to build, to helping you get the most for your construction dollar.
The licensure of an Architect involves a minimum of 5 years of professional education and three years of experience before becoming eligible to take the licensing exam. The licensing process is an extensive series of written and graphic exams that test a candidates ability against established standards. Only licensed Architects may carry use the title "Architect."
Hiring a licensed Architect will assure you receive the attention and professionalism your project deserves, backed by industry tradition and the responsibility of licensure.