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Q: Do we hire an Architect first or a General Contractor/Builder first?


A: It depends on what type of project delivery suits you best.  The two typical scenarios for a custom home or addition are as follows:

  1. Competitive Bid: The Architect designs your project and produces working drawings.  You then interview contractors and send the drawings out to bid to three qualified general contractors.  Pros: You get the lowest price through the competitive bid process.  Cons: The possibility that bids come in higher than anticipated, and you have to go back to the drawing board.  Curtiss strives to do his best to make sure the project is within the clients’ budget. He also offers to prepare bid documents and assist in the bidding process.

  2. Design-Build. You interview and select a general contractor/builder and an architect at the start of the project.  Often the Builder has a working relationship with an Architect. Although this is not a prerequisite an established working relationship is always beneficial.  During the design process the contractor provides cost analysis helping to keep the project on budget. Pros:  You know approximately what the project is going to cost throughout the design process.  Cons: Without competition, you don’t know if you are getting the best price. Curtiss W. Byrne Architect, LLC can help take the guessing game out of the home building process by helping the clients select a qualified general contractor / builder at the start of the design.

Q: How do I choose an architect?
A: Like choosing any professional, a referral from neighbors, relatives or colleagues is always a good place to start. Also look at an architect’s customer reviews. Curtiss W Byrne Architect has the most five-star reviews on Houzz of any St. Louis area Architect. Be sure to look at the architect’s professional credentials.  Are they licensed? Is their company licensed? Do they carry professional liability insurance? How long have they been in business?  Do they specialize in the type of project I am building?


Q: What do architects charge for their services?

 A: Every project is different, and the architectural fees are commensurate with the level of services requested.  Most St. Louis Architects charge hourly for design time and a fixed fee based on the square feet of the project for construction document time. Architectural fees can be as low as 1% of the construction cost for basic services or more for additional services. 

Q: What is the process/what services do you offer?

 A: Design Phase:

The Architect meets with the clients to learn about their vision of the project. The Architect listens to the client needs, desires and expectations of the project.   The Architect, taking into consideration this information, along with the budget and the site conditions, prepares schematic plans and elevations of the Project. The Architect meets with the clients and makes refinements to the design until the clients approve the schematic design.

Construction Document Phase:

The Architect prepares and seals detailed drawings required to obtain city agency design approval, obtain building permits, obtain Contractor bids, and to construct the Project.

Optional Services: Specifications and Bidding:

The Architect prepares a written specification outlining specific materials and fixtures to be used. This service is optional, but is recommended if the plans are going to be bid out to multiple General Contractors.  The Architect is able to assist with bid documents and the solicitation and collection of bids from multiple General Contractors.

Optional Services: Renderings:

The architect prepares two-dimensional or three-dimensional color renderings.

Permitting, Preconstruction and Construction Phases:

The Architect is available to answer questions during the contractor bidding process and is able to assist in obtaining city design review approval and apply for the building permits.  The Architect is available to answer questions during the construction phase and clarify any discrepancies.

Optional: Construction Observation Phase:

The Architect shall visit the construction site at appropriate times to keep the Clients informed about the progress, to guard against defects and deficiencies, and to verify that the Project is being built in accordance with the Construction Drawings.

Holistic Approach

Unlike other architectural firms where one person meets with the clients, but someone else is actually working on the drawings, at Curtiss W Byrne Architect LLC, Curtiss is the only one who is involved with all aspects and phases of the project.  Curtiss believes the result is unparalleled service to the clients and an improved translation of the clients’ desires and needs into a quality set of construction drawings that are complete and easy to build.

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