The first step in realizing your dream home starts with a short 30-minute conversation. We
want to get to know you and learn about your project, and we want you to be confident that
we are the right fit for you and your home project, too.
To get started, you can click here to schedule a call with us.
If you choose to proceed with Silver Elm Studio, then we’ll begin working through the details of
a Preliminary Design Requirements. (add SEO tag for Needs and Options) This step allows us to
get a clear vision for your project and to conduct a feasibility report with the Authority having
Jurisdiction (AHJ) to be sure your project is one that the local jurisdiction will allow.
The next step we’ll take is called the Schematic Design Phase. During this phase, the architect
meets with you to evaluate your needs and establish the goals for your project. This usually
includes general relationship and spatial requirements, figuring cost estimations, and
determining a realistic budget. The architect will also research the requirements of the
jurisdiction where the property is located.
When we feel confident with the results from the Schematic Design Phase, we’ll proceed to the
Design Development. In this phase the Project Architect finalizes the design, including floor
plans, exterior design elements, materials, structural details, and the site design. They will
review these details with you and then with the city or county jurisdiction for initial approval.
A Construction Document is a culmination of all the design and engineering details, both
written and graphic. Once you and the architect are comfortable with the details in the
Schematic Design Phase, then the Construction Document is generated. At a minimum this
document includes structural drawings, Title 24 energy compliance reports, California Green
Building Code requirements, and any other information required by the city for permit
approval. Building permits have to be applied for before any construction can begin. In order to
apply for these permits there must be a Construction Document.
Typically, the city requires between 4 to 6 weeks to review the initial Construction Document
plans, and then another 3 to 4 weeks for their final review and approval.
While we’re waiting for the city to approve the building permits, this is a great time to begin
selecting and ordering items for the interior of your home.
We recommend you work closely with an Interior Designer at this stage. They are experts in
advising the best options for items like cabinets, tiles, flooring, finishes, fixtures, appliances and
more. Interior Designers are key contributors in helping you select and shop for items that will
help complete the style, décor and overall feel of your home. Their expertise is instrumental in
helping you take your style and comfort from ideas to reality.
You will have the opportunity to decide which contractor you want to use during the Bidding
and Negotiation Phase. This is the time when various General Contractors will review the
Construction Documents and place a bid of cost and time. Our architects will help you work
through understanding the details of each bid so that you can make the best-informed decision.
Although cost is a factor, we recommend choosing a contractor you feel has a personality that
you are comfortable working with. Having a contractor who communicates well and answers
your questions during this phase is likely to continue that positive experience through the
When the Construction Document is approved by the City/County Jurisdiction, the General
Contractor of your choosing will obtain the building permit. Now the construction can finally
begin. Your project architect works with the general contractor, consistently observing their
work to be certain the project is conforming to the details of the construction document. If
there are any questions that arise or requests for design changes, your architect will respond or
help negotiate those changes.
Every homeowner wants to know the bottom line for their project, as they should. But there
are many factors that go into determining this number, so our initial answer is, “It depends.”
Some of the factors that must be considered are the quality of construction materials, custom
features, and luxury design features. During the Schematic Design Phase, we will define the
general design and engineering requirements that then allows us to determine a more precise
We typically recommend that homeowners use this matrix as a rough estimate when
considering their budget:
$350 per sq. ft. for a basic construction quality
$450 per sq ft. for a semi-custom design
$550+ per sq ft. for a luxury custom design
Silver Elm Studio strives to be fully transparent when it comes to upfront costs and fees so
that homeowners can have confidence when budgeting their home project. Many people are
surprised to learn that there are lots of fees even before permits are issued. The fee amounts
vary depending on the scope of work. The three categories of fees that are typical for
residential projects are—City fees, Professional Services fees, and Construction fees. It is not
uncommon for a homeowner to spend almost $20K on reports and fees even before they
receive the green light to begin construction.
That’s a great question! It’s easy for us to say that you should hire an architect for your home
project, since that’s what we do. However, we truly believe the combined services we provide
to our homeowners throughout their building project is invaluable to the entire process of
making their dream a reality.
Silver Elm Studio will provide leadership and expertise throughout your project to help you
navigate all the relevant details. Your architect will journey with you through many steps,
● Designing phase
● Creating floor plans
● Structural details
● Final site design
● Writing the construction document
● Bidding and negotiating with General Contractors
● Applying for permits
● Building process
● Compliance with the design
We are excited about your home design and hope that we have the opportunity to work with
you and help make your dreams a reality.
Click here to schedule a 30-minute conversation.
Since every project is unique, our architectural fee is based on your individual home design
needs. Working through the Preliminary Design Requirements will give us a better
understanding of the scope of your home project and allow us to provide a more precise and
custom Architectural Services fee that is appropriate for the project.