FAQ & Glossary

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I start?

Before our first meeting, get prepared. Start a notebook with questions. Having pictures or links to spaces that you like is great for discussion. Be prepared to answer questions about your space and how you live. The more you participate in this process the better the outcome will be.

What if I have no idea what I want?

No problem, that is why I am here; I am an expert in helping you figure out what you want. Together we will learn what the best solution is for you.

What is the client’s role in the process?

Good communication is essential. Your degree of involvement will determine your project’s level of success. Responding in a timely manner will avoid delays and possible unforeseen costs. Being as open and honest as possible with your questions allows me to do my best for you.

How long will this process take?

Each project is different and relies on many factors including the size and scope of the project, your participation, the number of changes requested, and the responsiveness of others such as contractors.

What if I already have plans?

We can do several things including creating a 3D model so you can explore your space and confirm the layout accomplishes your goals. We can also work with your contractor to make material selections and provide specifications. I can also help you understand bids from different contractors and how they will impact your project.

Should I go to a contractor first?

Unless you have a defined project, a contractor can’t give you an accurate price. Working to develop your design concept first allows for the best representation of what you want to accomplish.

Do I need a permit?

The answer to this depends on the project and municipality you live in, but most likely, yes. Your contractor is typically responsible for obtaining permits.

Do I need my own contractor or do you provide one?

I do not provide contractors or tradespeople. However, I do partner with several local craftsmen and I can help you understand who would be the best fit for your project.

Does my contractor need insurance?

Absolutely. Before you hire anyone make sure they are properly insured. It is also wise to contact your insurance company to let them know you’ll be remodeling.

Can I live in my house while it is being remodeled?

This depends on the type and extent of your renovation. Renovations are loud, dusty, smelly, and at times hazardous.

What’s the best time to remodel?

Don’t remodel with a timeline such as a wedding or the holidays. For a kitchen remodel, summers can allow outside dining and cooking. If you have children, consider remodeling during the school year to help keep them away from the project.

Common Architectural Terms


A person who designs and oversees the construction of buildings. They ensure a building follows code and will be safe and meet all local regulations. They provide construction documents and their “stamp” is required to build.


Although an engineer can perform the same tasks as an architect, they often offer a more specific discipline such as mechanical, civil, or electrical.

General Contractor

Also referred to as a builder or contractor, this person is in charge of your project. They handle the coordination of deliveries, managing subcontractors, and the general daily business of a job site.

Sub Contractor

A contractor who specializes in a specific skill such as a plumber or mason. They are also referred to as “trades.” They are considered a sub because they often work under the general contractor.

Residential Designer

While an architect may design for individuals, corporations, or governments, they often have a wider scope of a project. Residential designers focus on individuals, concentrating on lifestyle and space functions and flow. They can recommend materials, provide guidance about regulations and work as part of your team with your builder and architect.


An idea or general notion, not a final design or plan. A concept includes sketches and renderings to develop a design and communicate it to others.


A drawing typically in 3D to express the possible outcome of a finished space. Blueprints are often rendered to communicate a project in a realistic setting.


A 2D drawing of a specific wall or space.

Construction Documents

These are drawings and supporting documents that your contractor uses to know how to build your space. They contain material specifications, dimensions, building references and anything else your builder would need to know. These are also used to obtain building permits from your municipality and are typically signed or “stamped” by an architect or engineer.

Feng Shui

An ancient Chinese art of arranging buildings, objects, and spaces in an environment to achieve harmony and balance.


These are the details that support a selection–as in the backsplash tile, the size, shape, layout, finish and placement. These choices are communicated to the trade for proper installation.


An innate human instinct to connect with nature. Biophilic design has been found to support cognitive function, physical health and psychological well-being.

Universal Design

The design of buildings, products or environments to make them accessible to all people, regardless of age, disability or other factors. Also referred to as “aging in place.”


A retailer that typically only sells and provides materials to the trade.

View Patnode Pano 360 2 in Chief Architect’s 360° Panorama Viewer.