Questions to Ask Your Architect on Day One

Are you ready to begin a new building project but don’t know where to start?

Taking on a renovation, addition, or new building project can be overwhelming, even if you’ve done it before. EAPC Architects Engineers works closely with clients, keeping them intimately involved in all aspects of their project and answering their questions so they feel comfortable and confident about their decisions as their project develops. Our team can guide building owners, developers, and facility directors to get their construction projects started in the right direction and continue that guidance all the way through occupancy and beyond. Here a few questions to consider the first time we meet to discuss your project.

What building path is best to fit my needs? New construction? Renovation? Purchase other property?

New construction has the advantage of long-term benefits in energy savings, but typically costs more than renovation.

Renovation has typically lower costs and can have environmental benefits for re-use of an existing building.

You may want to look at other options you haven’t considered yet. Have you thought about renovating another building? Have you considered other sites that may have advantages for traffic, utility services, etc.?

What building type will best serve me now, and in the future? Metal? Wood building? Steel and concrete?

Metal buildings are inexpensive, but have a shorter working life span. Also, they have lower resale value.

What is your intended duration in the building? If you plan on developing a business that may be passed on to future generations, it may make sense to spend the money now to avoid costly additions or renovations in the future.

From a code perspective, it is cheaper to develop a wood building, but you may be restricted on the size of the building. Steel and concrete allow for larger building area and occupancy uses. For example, you cannot use a wood building for a large assembly function (sports arenas, convention facilities, etc.)

What advantages are there for new construction versus renovations with ongoing building and maintenance costs?

New construction with high-efficiency HVAC systems, LED lights, and rebates for adding solar or other renewable power can greatly reduce long-term operational costs, but have upfront costs associated with them.

If I’m planning on expanding in the future, should I have a master plan for the facility now to anticipate renovations in the future, building additions in the future, or possibly an entirely new structure in the future?

Master planning is essential for larger projects which have the potential for expansion. Planning for the future eliminates costly mistakes in renovations.

Proper master planning can anticipate how large additions should be and when they should take place, and can even plan for times when you may not need the entire facility yourself. For example, a space can be designed to use now, but can be turned into a rental space for a tenant if planned business expansion does not happen.

What features should I incorporate into the building to make it attractive in the future if I choose to lease it or sell?

Features like multiple entries, logical divisions of the building, and zoning electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems can allow for multiple tenants and cheaper renovation costs if the building is re-tasked in the future.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the various building construction types in relation to allowable square footage, costs, sprinklers, building codes, etc.?

In general, the highest type of building (Type 1) allows for the largest area and the most uses. Type V, the lowest, has more restrictions on use and allowable square footage. Discussing the pros and cons of each type with the architect will allow you to make an informed decision on what type is best for the use of the building, while maintaining cost control.

Sprinklers have the advantage of increasing allowable area for the building, while staying in the lower classifications of building type (less expensive) and reduce insurance costs for the owner.

Am I choosing the correct location for my building?

As an example, if this is a manufacturing facility with large needs for water, sewer and power, research is needed to see if adequate water and sewer is available, and also if there is enough power available from the utility in the correct type. Manufacturers often need 3-phase power to run equipment.

Are there zoning restrictions in place that make it difficult to develop where you’re looking?

Is the site contaminated from previous use, and would that require an environmental assessment and remediation? These items may come at your expense.

Is this a feasible project?

During our initial meeting, we will assess the overall project from a financial perspective to determine if the project is viable. If not, we can suggest another path which may be more practical.

Contact EAPC today to set up a time to discuss your goals with one of our project managers.

We are always interested in new project ventures. Whether it’s minor upgrades or a brand new facility, we would love to be the team that helps you navigate through your building project to create a functional space or environment that fits your needs.

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