A guide to Massachusetts architects

2017 Issue

BSA 150 seal

The 2017 Homeowner’s Project Handbook, a publication of the Boston Society of Architects/AIA (BSA), is part of a very exciting year for the BSA. The BSA is enjoying its sesquicentennial anniversary in 2017. That’s 150 years of design professionals working together to build often inventive and creative buildings for Boston, and for the people who live in it—150 years of progress, innovation, standard-setting, collaboration, and community building. To celebrate this milestone, the BSA is hosting a year of events, posting weekly letters from design leaders, and is showcasing a free exhibition at BSA Space focusing on the BSA’s achievements over the last 150 years. For full details on this monumental year, visit architects.org/reflections-bsa.

Working with an architect

An architect listens to you and serves as your advocate throughout your project. He or she translates your wishes into buildable form, addresses compliance with state and town regulations, oversees the work of the builder, and coordinates all technical and aesthetic aspects of your project.

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Budgeting the project

Budgeting the costs of design and construction is an important first step to help you avoid surprises and frustration. Share with your architect your budgetary goals and constraints. Only with full knowledge of your budget can your architect design within your constraints and allocate your project money wisely.

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Selecting an architect

The most popular and usually the best way to select an architect is by interviewing several candidates. This handbook is a good source for identifying architects who are qualified for your project. Friends and neighbors can be another good source, especially if they’ve completed a project similar to your own.

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Structuring the relationship

It is customary for an architect to be paid in several stages rather than with full payment at the end of the job. A down payment or retainer may be required prior to start-up. In most cases, an architect’s fee includes compensation for structural-, mechanical- (heating, ventilation, plumbing, and air-conditioning), and electrical-engineering consultants the architect may need to hire for your project.

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Design and construction

Projects typically involve six phases. Read about the elements of design and construction to consider when renovating your home.

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Energy saving solutions

Are you renovating or adding on to your home sweet home, or building your dream home? Make energy efficiency a part of your project from the start.

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The role of the builder

Builders (general contractors) provide construction services based on architects’ designs and are best suited to define construction methods and sequences, estimate costs, and coordinate the work of subcontractors.

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Now trending: Flexible storage, seamless space

Get the architect’s perspective in a survey of residential design trends. In the design of custom homes, less is more. The old expectation of formal living and dining rooms has given way to open, informal spaces that flow from one area to the next.

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Now trending: A balanced, meaningful approach

Get the architect’s perspective in a survey of residential design trends. Instead of designing a grand show house that accommodates every possible contingent use, our highest-end clients are interested in right-sizing true to their needs.

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Now trending: The ease of universal design

Get the architect’s perspective in a survey of residential design trends. Although many of our clients are people with disabilities, or older homeowners hoping to age in place gracefully, just as many are "typical" clients without disabilities, whom the average person wouldn’t expect to be interested in Universal Design.

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