Services

Services

We provide meaningful, efficient, cost-conscious and green architectural and interior design for a range of project types, sizes, and budgets. Our goal is to provide the highest level of personalized design service that also includes a frank assessment of costs. Below are services we provide for every project type. Click on the + signs or images for more detailed explanations.

As architects, we have a little different approach to interior design than Interior Designers. While we occasionally pick out furnishings, designing the living spaces, kitchens, bathrooms, railings, built-ins, colors, and fixed finishes are our primary focus. Integrating these elements with the overall idea of the space and creating a cohesive look and feel are our strong suits. On top of that, we focus more on finding materials that create a great feel without being exorbitant. Always happy to collaborate with others, we have also worked many times with outside Interior Designers with great results.

We encourage wise resource use but do not dictate the weight that should be placed on these factors. We are committed to being at least as green as you want to be, but given that Boulder and Boulder County have the strictest efficiency standards in the U.S., it is rare that our clients ask for more than what they are forced to do. We will always suggest ways to be more sustainable, but considering environmental impacts is part of a balancing of priorities in any building project. We always look at whether projects can be made smaller and more practical, by squeezing out wasted space and still making them feel generous, by making spaces perform multiple functions, by making them more durable and more energy efficient without sacrificing spatial quality and beauty.

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Being green is much more than just using materials with low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) or that have a low embodied energy. It goes beyond installing renewable energy systems or reducing the overall size of homes. While we do these things, and encourage our clients to take advantage of their benefits, being green ultimately requires an honest assessment of one’s entire lifestyle.

We also look for the things that will bring the best return on your investment dollar and try to look beyond the considerable hype that exists in literature about this subject. We have dedicated a lot of time to promoting public land use policies that encourage reductions in vehicle miles traveled.

David Biek, Arcadea’s principal, began studying environmentally friendly building systems back in the late 1970’s. For thirteen years during and after college he lived without owning a car and now lives in a home that uses no fossil fuels. We recycle almost everything and try to reduce even the use of paper.

In 2001, we invented new cost control tools that are unique in our industry. We now have a detailed analysis of over 50 projects and 100 bids. We have refined formulas to estimate construction costs before we even begin design. These room-by-room or part-by-part estimates are now usually accurate to within 10% of final costs. We have often saved clients the entire amount of our fees or more, but sacrificing quality cannot be the method. That would sacrifice long term value.

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OUR COST ANALYSIS TOOLS SEPARATE US FROM OUR COMPETITORS.

Not long after we started doing this, we realized our cost control tools too crude and we couldn’t rely on builders to provide accurate estimates without completed design documents. Our clients needed better information about costs before spending a lot on our fees. They also needed to know the cost implications of different design options.

Subsequently, we have analyzed a whole lot of our own projects and developed formulas for estimating construction costs in a number of novel ways. We can also provide very detailed estimates once the design has progressed to about the half-way mark. These become powerful tools for doing value engineering prior to design completion and for analyzing construction bids later on. We also provide full tracking of the construction-side costs of projects, including bid-to-bid comparisons and specific sub-contractor cost breakdowns.

Managing for high quality construction is also essential, of course, as lower cost cannot be achieved by sacrificing quality. Combining our cost management tools with thorough sets of documents is essential. It becomes easy to spot where costs are too high or too low, which will also cause problems.

We do not build our own designs; we believe in the centuries-old and balanced triangle of Owner, Architect, and Builder. While we are flexible about the scope of our services, we strongly recommend that we be fully involved through the end of construction in order for you to reap the full benefit of our services.

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We are sometimes asked why would we pay for your involvement during construction when we are paying a General Contractor to do that. The answer is that we bring a different perspective to the process that is extremely beneficial. First, we are your advocate in the process, since most home owners don’t have enough experience to know whether a sub-contractor is following the construction (contract) documents (as just one example). It is also hard for any builder to resist blaming a problem on someone else if that person isn’t listening. Second, we are much more familiar with the documents (because we prepared them) and with the design intent than anyone building from those plans. Even the best contractors will misinterpret intent and make mistakes. We will also not be perfect at communicating our intent and may need to elaborate. Near-perfect documents are possible but they cost twice as much as excellent ones and still leave open the possibility of misinterpretation. Because we know the design inside and out, we can head off problems early, before they become expensive to correct. Ideally, we have a discussion with the sub before any work begins and explain the project to them. This almost always uncovers at least one major misunderstanding that can be cleared up before we start. The cost of our time to be involved almost always pays big dividends in money saved and a greatly improved outcome.

We are not trained as botanists, but we feel strongly that our work should be integral with the exterior spaces, landscape, and hardscape. We sometimes will get into a lot of detail suggesting locations and types of plant and paving materials, but more often we work on spatial concepts and landforms for the exterior and have a landscape firm work with us to implement the details of plant materials. Sometimes they do more than that, too.

Click on the images above to get an in-depth explanation of our design processes.