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What is Building Design?

Short answer: Building Design is the art and science of designing buildings.

However, there is a lot more to it than the one liner would indicate. Our building design services involves sustainable design services especially for new construction. Building design service is a process that can often take many weeks or months to develop. It’s not just drafting up plans. It’s a whole process. We do not do short notice drafting of plans or modification of stock house/building plans prepared by others. We design. It’s a process that involves several steps to arrive at the design as a solution to our clients needs. However, we do work with clients to develop their dreams but it involves a process that can be lengthy to do properly and ultimately for your benefit and investment. You’re not investing in a cheap used car. We don’t jump from initial consultation being given newspaper clippings of example plans and draft them up. Skipping on professionally-led design process compromises developing the best design solutions to your needs. If all you are interested in is a cheap drafted plans with just only weeks from initial contact to submitting for permits, there are cheap, low-quality drafters willing to do such for peanuts. We are not one of them.

Building Design Process:

Refer to our page on Building Design Process (currently under development)

What building types and projects do you provide building design services for?

For Projects in States of Oregon and Washington:

We provide building design services for the construction of, alteration of, or enlargement of:

  • single family residential dwellings of any size, farm buildings, or any structure used in connection with or auxiliary to a single-family dwelling such as car garage or car port, barn, shed, outbuildings and structures used in connection with single-family dwellings even as appurtenances. This may include elements interior or exterior that are part of the overall function of the building and uses which may include outdoor kitchen, gazebos, etc. These structure serves the overall function of domestic living.In the State of Washington, we do provide the above for all residential dwellings up to FOUR dwelling units per (detached) residential building. The State of Washington may require certain drawings and other technical submissions in connection with multi-family dwellings’ exterior to be prepared by a Washington state registered architect or professional engineer per requirements of Engrossed House Bill-1848 that was adopted April of 2005 and came into effect August 1, 2005.In either state, we may also provide the building design services for structures used for the sheltering of domestic animals and livestock.

    In which case, the services of an Architect or Engineer as consultant will be procured and provided as Additional services to client and billed in addition to the fees of our building design services and may be separately invoiced as the conditions and terms of payment amounts and due dates may be different than that of the building design services. Consultants may have their own rates and requirements of when payments are due than that of our services provided to you.

  • other buildings if the ground area does not exceed 4,000 square feet and not more than 20 feet in height from top surface of lowest floor to highest overhead interior finish of the structure. NOTE: In the State of Washington, there is not a 20 ft. height rule as in Oregon. Washington may calculate the square footage differently than Oregon.
  • For buildings that are larger than 4,000 sq.ft. or more than 20 ft. or otherwise would require a licensed architect to design, we may provide building design services in connection with those buildings provide the structural part of the building (including but not limited to – foundation walls, floors, roof, footings, bearing partition, beams, columns, joists, etc.) is not involved, and the building code classification by use or occupancy and/or building code classifications by type of construction are not involved. Example: Minor tenant improvement of a store front on the ground-level of a multi-story building where there are no changes to structural systems, use/occupancy classification, or construction type classification.


Services in those jurisdiction will be provided as permitted by the laws and rules stipulates in those jurisdictions. There may be locations we can not offer or perform services in those locations.

We provide building design services in connection with new construction, additions, renovations for buildings and structures as noted above. Our building design services may also include application of services regarding sustainable design and/or historic preservation/restoration/renovations/adaptive reuse. In our local area, we provided services of renovation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings addressing present and foreseeable future needs of the client while taking care to not destroy or otherwise compromise the historic character and features of the building that defines it.

When we design new buildings, we incorporate sustainable design into new construction. Where possible, designing of new buildings will involve passive solar building design practices. In every regard, we strive to employ sustainable design practices in all projects as practicable. It is a moral obligation or “moral imperative” that we employ sustainability in what we do in the designing of buildings, structures, and landscape. It is without doubt that we face climate change. Sustainable design is only one part of sustainability. The remaining part of sustainability is sustainable living or sustainable occupancy. It goes hand in hand. Sustainable design requires sustainable living or occupancy in a sustainable manner. Therefore, we are not going to be wasteful designing 25,000 sq.ft. mansions for a household of 3 or 4. Scale of building must reflect and be sustainably responsible. With regards to our services, sustainable living or occupancy means a living or occupancy use that is friendly and sustainable to the ecological environment of the world we live on or in. Our building design services are integrated with sustainable design and that means our services are in a manner to be more ecologically friendly and sustainable than that which is required by minimum regulatory standards or that of the past, and to reduce our impact on nature over the life cycle of what is built from our designs. It is not about perfection. It’s about consciously considering the environmental implications of what we design and the decisions we make in the designing of said structure.

For more information about Sustainable Design Services, visit our page on Sustainable Design Services.

Cost of Building Design Services?

Each building design project is unique. We may charge in a number of ways depending on the project. Our Building Design services are billed using a Cost-plus-Fee with Guaranteed Maximum Price fee with starting base fee amount, for a given scope of work outlined in contract. In estimating our fees, we utilize our Billed Hourly Rate times an estimated range of hours to perform the services in connection with the scope of work agreed to in contract. Services beyond the scope of work agreed to in contract may be charged at a Billed Hourly Rate of up to $160 an hour and in some cases, it may be more.

Regarding our Cost-Plus-Fee with Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) with starting base fee amount:

Our Cost-Plus-Fee with Guaranteed Maximum Price (referred to as GMP below) fee with starting base fee amount is based on an estimated *range* of hours times our Billed Hourly Rate plus costs. We set a starting base fee amount as a guaranteed minimum amount but also setting a guaranteed maximum for the agreed scope of work. Work beyond or outside the scope of work agreed to in contract is billed additionally at our Billed Hourly Rate. Associated direct project costs aside from labor are invoiced such as the cost of the plans to print them, etc. Sometimes, it may be calculated into the fee but additional costs may be added.

For an example, with the GMP w/ starting base fee amount, on a given scope of work, we may estimate that the project’s scope may vary between 500 to 650 or so hours. So we have may make a floating fee starting at $160 times 500 hours with a GMP at the $160 x 650 hours. We may include a limited float beyond 650 hours like 700 hours then add any billed costs and that is our GMP. The GMP in this case may be at $160 x 700 hours plus billed costs. The fee is calculated when we determine the scope of work for the contract at the on set of our services.

NOTE: Cost-plus-Fee with GMP & starting base fee amount is for the design stage services from Pre-Design through Construction Documents/Submittal Document phase. Construction Stage services are billed by the hour or a daily fee based on 8 hour days flat rate daily fees. Change Orders are billed at Billed Hourly Rate. The GMP is not necessarily the maximum price of our services to the client. It is simply to set a cap at a certain price for work under a given set scope of work. However, if the scope of work changes, the work due to client changing the scope of services, then we charge additionally as “additional services” because the fee is based on an initial understanding under the contract term when we begin so we have provisions in our contract  to override the GMP when the client decides to make drastic changes in their ideas especially late in the design phase so we aren’t stuck working hundreds of hours for free because the client makes major scope of work changes. We are a business, after all. Working free don’t pay the bills.

Billed Hourly Rate is normally charged at $120 to $160 per Hour for more comprehensive and sophisticated projects. Smaller and or less complicated projects may be charged at a lower rate of $80 per hour to $120 range. Some projects may be extraordinarily more complex or some projects may be so small and simple that we may charge less than the $80 an hour.

Change-order services are typically charged at a Billed Hourly Rate of $160 per hour as additional services exceeding the scope of work and contractual terms. When it comes to pricing it is the signed and written contract that is the binding terms not the website. The website is intended to provide some idea of what the services may cost for professional quality services and discourage people who want a lot done for peanuts level prices. We’re not interested in working at prices of minimum wage at a rural sweatshop in China. This way, our services are intended to reflect professional norms for professional level services at prices that also may allow for the use of consultants at respectable prices for their expertise when projects need the additional capacity to delivery what the needs of the project at professional quality level of service in accordance with professional standard of care.

As indicated elsewhere on this site, services are ultimately what is set and established in the written contract and the terms and conditions of the contract. Prices are therefore, may be negotiable to an extent depending on specifics of the scope of work. Therefore what we agree to with a client may be different than the above. It is to provide a preliminary figure of what we may charge around but every contract’s pricing is specific to the particular project, the scope of work agreed to, and when project scope changes during project – the typical price we may charge or specify in a contract for additional services perform by us but third-party consultant pricing could affect the pricing as well for work performed by consultants.


As shall be noted, due to the nature of our services, we record in-person and over the internet voice or video conference meetings. Additionally, we use written contracts to formalize our agreements and usually will require signatures.

Additionally, we take the privacy importantly and do not disclose the entrusted private information attained through those conversations to the public without either permission from the client or through court order or subpoena. While we are not lawyers or doctors with special legal protections, we still do our best to preserve the trust of our clients.

Agreeing to use our services including initial consultation and / or by contacting us, you are consenting to use of recording.

Additionally, we retain ALL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS to the designs we prepare for our clients. We are independent contractors (not construction contractors but self-employed/stand-alone business). We are NOT employees to clients.  Therefore, we are not a “work for hire”. We are owners of our designs. Clients own trademarks and other intellectual properties are that of our clients.