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Residential renovation, bedrrom

Getting Started

Knowing that most people have never worked with an architect before, we find it helpful to describe how to get started and what to expect.

Please do not hesitate to ask questions: We know this can feel overwhelming sometimes, but our job is to make it a fun and exciting time and relieve you of the headaches. We want this project to be about your wants (not ours) and hope our expertise will guide you to a wonderful solution.

The Consultation

The first step is to set up a consultation: this initial meeting usually takes place at the client's home. We will visit with you to find out your wants and needs, take a small tour to get a feel for your existing space and to learn how you live within your home. We will talk over ideas and goals that you have for your renovation/addition/new build and provide you with advice and suggestions and inform you about our design process and what you can expect during construction.


We currently work with clients who reside in Raleigh. There is a fee of $125 for weekday consultations and a fee of $225 for weekend consultations which is due at the time of consultation. 

The Design Proposal

Also included in the consultation fee: after our meeting, we will put together a Design Proposal that will include a summary of the work that needs to be done (a.k.a. “Project Description”), a breakdown of the hours we believe it will take to do the work, and a final (fixed) fee for Design Services. Please refer to the FAQ section of this website to get an idea of what an architect charges.

*The Consultation and Design Proposal are invaluable parts of the design process and are as much for the architect as for the client. Almost all design Agreements (Contracts) stipulate that the client must provide the architect with a "program" and it is during the Consultation that we can assist you in formulating your ideas into a cohesive path forward.*

Some clients hire us for the initial consultation only, finding that the advice offered during this meeting and summarized in the Proposal are all they need to move forward on their own. But most clients decide to retain our services through to the Design Options and Construction Drawings (see below).

The Contract/Agreement

If you agree to the Proposal, we write up a standard Contract/Agreement based on the Proposal for your review and signature. This Agreement spells out what you can expect throughout the design process. Once the Agreement is agreed upon, signed and the first payment made, we schedule a time to document your existing space in detail. This site visit usually takes 2-3 hours and involves measuring and photographing your home so that we have an accurate record from which to draw from.

The Design Options

This is definitely a favorite part of any project! After studying your space and your program, Jennifer will present (generally) 3 different design options that address all your needs in different ways. One option is usually very straight forward, a second option might be a variation on the first, and the third option will usually be an “outside-the-box” design. All designs are considerate of your budget and elements from each design can be mixed-and-matched.  *With our current project load we are balancing 10-12 clients at any given time so it may take 10-12 weeks (after the site visit) before you receive your Design Options.* 

After the client reviews and decides on his/her favorite elements from each option, Jennifer goes “back to the drawing board” to formulate one, cohesive plan. This process involves client feedback and revisions and is not complete until you are wholly excited and happy with the final design.

The Construction Drawings

After we agree on a final design, work on the “construction drawings” begins. This set is prepared with a contractor in mind and will have measurements, elevations, details and notes. The construction drawings are for pricing, permit(s) and for constructing your new design. *Another name for “construction drawings” is “blueprints”, except they have not been “blue” in almost 20 years!


To begin construction in most jurisdictions in the triangle, a permit application for a home (new, renovation or addition) must be accompanied by 3 discipline’s work: 

  1. the survey (by a licensed surveyor)

  2. the building plans (by the architect)

  3. the structural plans (by a structural engineer)

Traditionally, the homeowner works with the surveyor directly and the General Contractor works directly with the structural engineer. At Oak City Architecture we provide guidance through the surveying process and we provide our digital CAD files to your General Contractor’s structural engineer to ensure all drawings are coordinated and ready for your permit(s).

The Building Plans

As architects, we are responsible for the “building plans” portion of a set of drawings. In a drawing set, when these drawings are completed by an architect, they are designated with the letter “A” (for architectural). And by no surprise, the structural plans are designated with the letter “S”. There are many letters in a full set of drawings: “L” for landscape design (which would include such things as grading and patio design); “E” for electrical (wiring, light switches and receptacles); “P” for plumbing (pipes); “M” for mechanical (heating and air conditioning), etc.  Each letter represents a separate professional discipline and only that profession is allowed to provide the drawings within that letter (so an architect cannot draw the “M” set just as the mechanical engineer cannot draw the “A” set).


In NC it is very rare that we would need anything but the survey, the “A” set and the “S” set to obtain permit(s) from the local jurisdiction. We have such good building codes and so many good subcontractors in N.C. that our plumbers, mechanical contractors and electricians do not need “P, M & E” sets; they all work with the General Contractor to make sure your behind-the-wall systems provide you with a comfortable and safe environment. But, if anything ever comes up that gives them pause regarding the appearance of your space, Oak City Architecture is always available for an on-site construction visit to work out any details to make sure your systems look beautiful in your home.

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