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. 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.

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.

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.

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
construction estimate.

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

We specialize in Custom Residential Home Design in San Marino, Pasadena, and Arcadia. Our services includes but not limited to:

  • Pre-design Consultation
  • Preliminary  Feasibility Research
  • Preliminary and Detailed Custom Home Design
  • Coordinating Engineering Requirements
  • Construction Documents
  • Permit Processing
  • Bathrooms and Kitchen Remodel
  • Architectural Interior Design
  • Construction Process Consultation


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.

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.

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.

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.

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
building process.