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Design Rx for Your Home Remodel: An Interview with John Anthony Lewis, Architect Inc.

By John Anthony Lewis

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

My firm has been in practice for over 30 years in Canada and the United States. Over that time I have developed a strong sense of integrating the architecture of the building with the design of the interior and the landscape that surrounds the building.

We are a full-service company that offers all aspects for a complete design solution.We also offer project observation to coordinate with the general contractor and ensure that the project is successful and the client's best interests are protected. Our projects range from small additions to very large estates, and I welcome the challenges that each project presents.

What are the benefits of homeowners working directly with an architect on their new construction, remodel or addition project?

The advantage of working with an experienced and talented professional architect offers well thought out plans executed with the ultimate concern and appreciation for fulfilling the client's needs and dreams. I believe a successful architect must be able to listen to a client's requests and use his or her experience and talent to create the best design.

What are some important questions to ask an architect before beginning the design process?

What amount of visual aids will be shown besides the standard floor plans and elevations? Perspectives and computer modeled pictures really help most people to understand the full dimensionality of their project.

How does he allow for client design changes? What does he understand about furniture, flow and art placement in his initial schematic planning? How does he handle a contractor that may not perform at an acceptable level? How does he design to meet a client budget that has been expressed?

How do you suggest that people approach the remodeling process so they'll end up with a home they love?

Be realistic about your priorities. Set up a wish list that is value driven but allows for some fantasy that you would love to achieve within your budget. Also, try to anticipate and resist the desire to change your mind once construction starts, unless it is a really good revision. The delays and extra costs are often a spoiler to the final completion.

What are some of the biggest issues that architects and homeowners face when it comes to a new design project?

It is critical to establish what options one has that will comply with the various governmental agencies that can really restrict the scope of work, especially in coastal areas. Determine the budget realistically, preferably with the input of an experienced general contractor. On larger high-end projects, hire a estimator.

What advice do you have for homeowners to help make sure their remodel or addition goes as smoothly as possible?

Know that remodels can offer up some unpleasant surprises once you start removing walls, etc. Make sure there is a contingency fund for the unexpected. Check on the contractor's references. Did he complete on time, do a good job. Keep the job clean at all times, etc. Ask your contractor for a progress schedule and if time is a really critical element discuss a performance penalty within the fee structure. This usually will cost more but the contractor is put on notice that the established timeline must be honored. Too many contractors these days have very few of their own subs and must wait for others' schedules to perform. This can cause costly and frustrating delays.

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

You can visit my website
I can be reached by email: jal@jalewisarchitect.com
Or call me: 818-521-9876

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