Things to Consider During Your Renovation

There are many reasons for homeowners' to update their home by means of a renovation or a remodel; the original kitchen is outdated or too small, you need another bathroom, or you desire a master suite complete with walk-in closets, double vanities, and freestanding tub.  Whatever your reasons are know that there are a few items you'll want to keep in mind before construction starts.

It's Your House, but Their Project

You work hard on keeping your home looking clean and fresh. You maintain your landscaping, clean your driveway and patios, vacuum the house, and fix any crooked wall photographs.  Once you let your builder come in to start construction, however keep in mind that your home becomes their work site for the next few weeks or months.  That translates to more people at the house then you may be typically used to, dealing with loud noises from power tools early in the mornings, and construction materials & tools being stored in your garage or basement.  All of these items are part of the job and unavoidable throughout the life of the project.  You have to trust the process and know that at the end your house will be back to normal with a new space to show your family and friends.

 Deleting Walls

Deleting Walls

Dust is Your Enemy

If you're going to remodel or renovate your house know that dust will find its way past the construction zone and onto your counters, shelves, and floors.  We always setup dust barriers, temporary walls, and floor protection but during the life of the project dust will find a way past those barriers.  The reason for this is due to a couple of factors. The first being that your house has settled over time, and when someone comes in to rip some of it apart some of that built up dust in the walls, floors, and ceilings can come loose in an area outside of the project. Another reason is that your house has 'gaps' where dust can easily pass through.

Trust the Process

It is an exciting moment when demolition begins, but at the same time we have a feeling that homeowners begin to panic.  If you have done work on your home in the past you know what we are talking about.  That bathroom you have been using for years, have made your own, suddenly razed to expose just the bones of the wall.  It can be hard to take in at first, but throughout the process you will start to see your project being assembled to its old state - rather a better state!  In the case of a bathroom project that could mean all new tile, fresh paint, new vanity, toilet and tub, and some sleek lighting (and maybe even a heated floor!).  During the demolition phase it may be hard to remember the end goal but if you trust your builder that end goal will come sooner than you think.

Ask Away

No matter how hard we attempt to sort through all of the projects' scope up front there will always be questions that come up, both on our end as well as yours.  Never hesitate to ask questions, whether it be about a material you selected or something you see on the project job site.  More often than not your question will help clarify the project and ensure that we are both on the same page.  If you're curious about something during the construction phase, ask us about it! We love the construction process and are always more than happy to explain what you're seeing on site.

Before the start of your next project if you keep the above in mind you we promise you'll have less headaches.



The Big Picture

Here at CAC we put in a lot of effort to educate our clients and the community on the benefits and importance of hiring an architect for their next project.  There are countless services that architects can offer that can benefit any project at any scale - from bathrooms to houses.  Though often enough we find that most people think that architects are really expensive, only for the rich, are out of tune with normalcy, and too busy for the everyday homeowner.  We thought today we would step back and keep it simple explaining a few 'big picture' benefits of hiring an architect.

 Sketches, Calculations, and Code Review. Only a portion of our architectural services.

Sketches, Calculations, and Code Review. Only a portion of our architectural services.

But before we jump into that; during architecture school there are many lessons one learns (often via the hard way) that help prepare students to be better architects.  One particular lesson, found in Matthew Frederick's, 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School holds true in our practice,

Lesson 48: If you can't explain your ideas to your grandmother in terms that she understands, you don't know your subject well enough.

We draw - a lot. When we meet people at networking events and home interviews, 9 times out of 10 when we tell them we're architects they say, "oh, so you draw houses?" Yes, we draw houses, but we take it further than that. We draw plans to help owners and builders visualize the end results. We cut sections - think of someone taking a saw and cutting your house completely in half - to help showcase the relationships of spaces between levels. More often than not, we are out on site taking measurements of all the existing conditions of your house - we want to document as much existing information as possible before we start designing. Ultimately, a construction drawing set is the final stage before your project can be built. Think of the CD set as an Ikea instruction manual on how to assemble your project - only going way more in depth, with measurements, notes, details, and schedules!

We think outside the box - occasionally sitting in the box.  By education architects are taught to think of unique solutions to simple problems.  When thinking outside the box we have a giant roll of tracing paper on our desks, a giant Sharpie marker and your drawings.  We are constantly tracing over plans, sections, elevations, and details questioning everything.  There are ways in which things are done, but that does not stop us from trying something new.  There are also times when, rather than reinventing the wheel, we enjoy the classic way of doing things.

We think big picture - but love little Instagram squares.  Architects often are thinking of the big picture, the end result before diving into the details of a project.  It's said that as architects we are responsible for knowing a little about everything.  Often times we are considered generalists, and this is helpful for many clients because we are thinking of the big picture.  We think ahead and try to mitigate issues that we see arising before they even happen.  At the same time we love capturing the little things - just check out our ever-growing Instagram account.  The details of every project are important and we enjoy them just as much as the long term stuff.

We love when you ask us about what we do - just ask. This is plain and simple.  There is so much that we can do, we love when someone inquires about an opportunity. Any opportunity. "Can you design our dining room table?" - Sure can! "What about coming to open houses with us so we can get your take on the property?" -Yep, we love looking at homes! "Can you help plan our next renovation?"-This is not a problem!  "Can you create 3D-models we can present to investors?"-Absolutely.

In short, simple conversation we can never go over all of our services. Our intention is to get you thinking outside the box on your next project, whatever that may be - architects do not just draw, ask us about it.


- Nathaniel & the CAC Team

Architecture All Around

 Architecture can inspire a sense of wonder. From NMS Instagram

Architecture can inspire a sense of wonder. From NMS Instagram

Think about this for a moment, other than most architects, many people go about their everyday lives experiencing architecture without ever giving it any thought.  The built environment is defined by architecture, it's all around us and one can sense it in many ways. Yet, the architecture of places can be lost - taken for granted even - on almost everyone. Why is that?

In Experiencing Architecture, author Steen Eiler Rasmussen writes, "Architecture is produced by ordinary people, for ordinary people; therefore it should be easily comprehensible to all...". Architecture is not meant simply for one type of person (ie. people who can afford it), it's meant to be experienced by everyone on a variety of different levels of understanding.  So pause every now and again to take it all in.  What do you see around you, what can you hear, what types of materials surround your being, does it have a particular smell, is it filled with natural light? Is the space smooth or rough, are there specific colors being used, do you notice any patterns, are there any memories flooding your conscious?

With every project we design and build we attempt to invoke your architectural senses.  Spaces take on various forms of meaning for everyone, this is what can make a project a success. A project, in our opinion, is unsuccessful when a space does not invoke anything within you. That's why throughout the entire design-build process we work along side you with the design and construction details to ensure that you are going to be awe-struck by your project; big or small. Whether it be incorporating your favorite colors in a room, using materials that remind you of your childhood home, or capturing the sun's light in just the right way to inspire you - these are each small examples of how you can experience the architecture around you and your project.  Are you ready to take it in?

- N. & The CAC Team



'Rasmussen, Steen Eiler. Experiencing Architecture. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1962.'

#iLookUp You Should Too

The #iLookUp campaign was started by the American Institute of Architects, the AIA, to help promote and raise awareness of the power of architecture in America.  The mission of the group is simple:

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) encourages everyone to "Look Up" and see what we can create together. Then, imagine what America could look like when you partner with an architect to co-create its future.
 From Nathaniel's own Instagram #iLookUp

From Nathaniel's own Instagram #iLookUp

As architects we are often looking up (and bumping into things while doing so).  It's a great way to discover how buildings meet the sky, and can actually create a sense of wonder standing at the base of a structure and craning your neck up to see the shear mass, the materials, and connections all above you.

Ever since the start of this campaign we found ourselves scrolling through all the hash-tagged Instagram photos.  This is a great way to get inspired by the projects architects work on.  You'll scroll through projects from ultra-modern skyscrapers in large cities, concrete structures from the brutalism era (I'm sensing a blog post on this), high-end contemporary homes, mega-structures, and yes, the occasional cat photo (cats sneak into everything!).

In all seriousness, the campaign aims to bring awareness to the importance of architecture; to the architect.  And this is important for architects working at all scales - skyscrapers to homes.  But what exactly does an architect do? We're going to save that for later ;)

In the meantime, keep looking up.


- Nathaniel & the CAC Team

What it Takes: Becoming an Architect

We all know about architects, but what exactly does it take to become one?

Architect's are responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the community.  They have to ensure that the buildings they are designing are structurally sound, improve on the built environment, and, above all, are safe.  So how can you be sure your architect can handle all of this? 

For starters the practice of architecture is regulated - meaning that in order to call yourself an architect you need to be registered in the state where you practice.  What does it take to become registered? Let's take a look:

In a nutshell before one can earn the title of architect they need to complete:

  1. A professional degree of architecture from an accredited college or university
  2. Earn 5,600 hours of professional experience
  3. Pass all 7 of the architectural registration exams
  4. Be interviewed by the state licensing board
 A small sample of ARE study material

A small sample of ARE study material

Item One - To most people this should make a lot of sense.  You want to make sure your doctor passed medical school, the same holds true for architects.  Architects typically are in school an average of 5-7 years before they graduate with a degree. By the time they graduate they can hold titles like; designer, design coordinator, and project coordinator.  If they want to hold the title of architect they need to pursue steps 2-4.

Item Two - Have you ever heard that it takes 5,000 hours to master a skill (10,000 hours if you're Malcolm Gladwell)?  The idea that you need to work under a licensed architect for 5,600 hours is similar in concept - you are learning the way things work to master a set of skills. The way materials come together, how building codes function, how to present in front of boards, and how to draw properly are only a handful of tasks needed to be mastered.  As the list goes on, these are all items that need to be understood before you can call yourself an architect. Think again about your doctor, you want to make sure they completed all of their residency hours (dealing with real patients in real situations) before they go off on their own to diagnose you!

Item Three - This is the critical step that needs to be completed.  Unfortunately, this also deters a lot of potential candidates from becoming architects.  After 5-7 years of school potential young architects then have to sit for 7 professional examinations and pass each.  This process is becoming simpler, but on average it can take someone an additional 2-5 years to complete.  Lawyers have the Bar Exam, architects have the ARE. It's a seven step exam testing candidates competency ensuring they know their stuff.

Item Four - Not all states require this, but it is a good way for the state licensing board to find out if architectural candidates are of sound ethical mind and act in a professional manner.  This is a simple process, but again, it is another step that must be taken.

Here at CAC we are strong advocates for our designers to become licensed. We believe that it is an important step for professional growth - and pretty rewarding.  Ready to talk to one of our architects?



Get Ready - CAC Blog Launch!

Being a young and innovative start-up firm we thought it would be an interesting exercise (as well as good habit!) if we started a company blog.  It appeared to be a daunting task at first, but upon further discussion the team decided that this blog can be useful, both to you and to us.  We plan on using this blogging format to share some of the 'behind-the-scenes' of our company; we will give you the inside scoop on our process and current projects, but also our growth.

There is more to share than just the finished design or construction project - although fantastic to see - we above all else love the process.  For us, those initial ideas, countless sketches, your design input, and the twists & turns it took to get to the final product is what we pride ourselves in.  Both architecture and building do not just 'happen' into existence.  There are steps - not always linear - that are taken throughout to create beautiful architecture and intricate construction.  Consider this introductory post our first step in creating a fun, interesting, and maybe even educational CAC Blog.


The CAC Team