To Permit or not to Permit (Telltales, harbingers, and fallout )

  Nobody loves going to the building department, filing the applications, paying the fees, submitting drawings and the related waiting and red-tape. But you have to– not just because its the law- but because it will save you countless hours later, prevent fines, and actually improves the value of your home, building or property when you […]

Bring in the pretty! Interior decorating

There is a lot of responsibility-overlap with architects and related designers. For many projects one needs a generalist (architect) to coordinate the different specialists (civil engineer, structural engineer, mechanical engineer, Audio Visual consultant, Construction Manager, Interior decorator, etc) . But some projects, simply do not need all those designers. So when you want to reconfigure […]


Getting the right thing on your job:  Substitutions Specified Most products and performance standards in the drawings of architects and engineers are specified. This is primarily done to ensure quality control. Frequently,  contractors will propose to substitute products or performance standards in the drawings or specifications. Let’s take a quick review of the related factors. Acceptable Reasons Many […]

Combining spaces (apartments, stores or offices)

Stacked or side by side? The basic wisdom is that side by side is usually cheaper and easier. This is because opening walls is typically simpler than creating floor openings and the related framing. Additionally,  the single level eliminates the need for stairs or elevators. Of course the availability of the space(s) is usually what determines the […]

Shall we Skip the Drama? or Will Your Construction Project turn into a Goat Rodeo?

I just love the image of someone trying to get control of these critters and making them behave. The analogy of course, is the players who contribute to a construction project: The Owners, Builders, Architects, Engineers, Inspectors, Vendors, Neighbors etc.  Each party convinced they are doing their part perfectly… So then, what’s needed to […]

Retain This! …A primer to retaining walls.

“Hey, I just want to flatten out my backyard so the kids can play” was my customer’s reason for initiating a recent project. One way to achieve that level yard is to re-grade (move the soil around )  the yard and add a low wall that retains the earth to create that more usable level […]

How to Interview Architects

Let me suggest an approach that starts with easy questions then get into a few tougher ones.    Just to get the conversation going you may start- 1. Like,”Tell me what you think of our project?”  or “Can you tell me a little more about the ___project that we saw on your website?” 2. What […]

House & Home Selection

OK, we’re cruising around with a real estate agent, checking our potential home locations, the time is, what factors come into play when we assess the “go , no-go”? Hopefully you’ve already done the school research, commute comparison, tax shudder-dance and you’ve narrowed it down to a target area. The final answer is based […]

Value Engineering- (not a political discussion)

The bids start trickling back and , oh snap, they are too high!. What should we do?  Value Engineer it!…We’re not talking about those good values we learn as little kids. But many clients have that puzzled look when we start the  conversation, so here goes…It’s more than just reducing costs after thumbing through the […]

Appliance Buying Strategy

I love saving my customers money and hassle.  Shopping for their own appliances is no exception. 3 little nuggets: The best advice I can lend is to use Consumer reports-which is what I did here.  Here’s the link When you buy matters most across all brands.Lowest prices for TV’s: July 4th and Black Friday […]