Architect Expectations - Frustrated To Date

3 Replies

Have finished my first flip and moving on to my next.  Thanks BiggerPockets for the continued inspiration.

Also have joined a realtor to develop and brand a strong real estate portfolio.  Our long term goal is managing multiple rehabs and rentals at once.  Our current dilemma is that we purchased a distressed property that needs a full gut.  We will be doing a bump out (10'x15') and pop up (adding a 2nd floor).  Our current timeline to date is below.  I was expecting to be in permitting by now but we are not.  The architect has indicated my expectations are unrealistic.  Can someone provide guidance on a timeline on what would be considered a realistic expectation on drawings submitted for permitting from an architect that understands we are flipping the home (time is $)?    Also a timeline for construction docs so I can get bids from multiple builders in the area (still don't have those either).  

9-13: ratified contract on the property (5 day contingency - footers)
9-18: footers checked and confirmed can hold 2nd story
9-20: plat sent over to Architect
9-23: initial sit down with new architect to discuss plans
10-14:  meet with architect  again - made minor modifications
10-15: received partial elevations from architect so we could market coming soon on MLS
10-25: Met with Architect and builder to get update on status and quote
11-14 meeting today to hopefully confirm final plans and get them submitted for permitting (another 6-8 wks in county zoning and building)

Also, would like to develop a growing relationship with an architect in NoVA that understands Arlington County Land Disturbance issues.   Any suggestions in Arlington County for an architect?

In need of knowledge- Traci


Permit process. 6 to 8 weeks in this area. Basically it is about 4 weeks to get permit comments back. Then another 2 weeks to answer them and resubmit the plans to the city. Sometimes the city comes back with additional comments. However, those are usually only a few and minor and I always try to meet the city reviewer in person when I respond to these comments. So 6 to 8 weeks is about right. You can also call Arlington and ask them what their review time is for your type of project. You are at the mercy of the city during the permitting process. However, I always have my clients begin to look for contractors while the plans are in the city and provide bids off of the permitted plans. This way once the permit is obtain you already have a contractor picked out.

Building process. It depends how you build. Since I am on BP I understand how to design a house if it is to be flipped. It might be too late for you but I always suggest modular construction and simple things like having all windows a certain distance from the floors or doors so that they don’t need to be tempered. If modular is designed properly from the beginning it is by far the cheapest and fastest way to build. If I worked full time on my house (or had a GC) and had a lot more cash up front I could have finished in 3 months. However, 4.5 months is still fast. Typical construction is around 8 - 12 months in this area.

The only other thing you can do next time is when you enter into the escrow period you have your Architect start immediately. They should also understand that it is a spec home to be flipped and not the home of your dreams. With that said you should also have a program that you can give an architect on what you expect the house to have so that they don’t waste time guessing. The more detailed program the better. The timeline you have is acceptable for a project this size. However, being a flip it should have been done quicker. A month at most but I don't know what your Architect promised or how complicated of a client you are. 

I hope that helps. I’m happy to answer any questions on the forum. 

Thanks Eric for the detailed response.   We did discuss how to escalate the process with this architect and he also suggested once a contract is ratified to get on his calendar to walk the property prior to close if possible.    We discussed in length about this home being builder grade and a flip.  What is a reasonable expectation for a spec home drawing  from an architect in this area?    

@Traci Pietra

It depends. I just spoke to a Contractor/developer who wants to build in Fairfax and he liked my idea of going modular for the addition. With that in mind I told him we can have it ready in 4-6 weeks + permit time. When I deal with homeowners I give them more time so that they can think about the design options I am providing. It also depends on you and the program. A more detailed program up front leaves out any questions that might arise. It also depends on the project. Each one is somewhat different. Sorry for not providing an exact answer but there are too many variables. 

I'm sure you know that right now there is a lot of work in NOVA so to get a quick turnaround from anyone is very hard. Once you establish a relationship with someone it will go quicker as all parties know what is required from each other. If the Architect or Contractor or anyone gets paid quickly then they know that will be the case for future projects and will then give you priority. My best clients are the most demanding but because they are demanding they pay their invoices quickly. 

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