Anton Architecture, Inc.

Is a building permit required to finish a basement?


Normally, yes. Review agencies will specifically look for life safety and health issues such as exits, egress windows, smoke detectors, basement bedrooms and window area and daylighting.


 

Is a building permit required for room addition?


Normally, yes. The governing review agencies (zoning administration, building department, fire protection district) for your locale will want to ensure that the addition or renovation is designed and constructed in accordance with their adopted building codes and ordinances. Building permit requirements vary from city to city and St. Louis County has over 90 municipalities, each with its own regulations. Some of these municipalities review and approve the design for zoning compliance and then subcontract the building code review to St. Louis County’s Public Works Department. Others do all of the reviews in-house. St. Louis County maintains the following matrix which summarizes municipal review policies: http://www.stlouisco.com/Portals/8/docs/Document%20Library/Public%20Works/code%20enforcement/matrix/Matrix-Alpha.pdf

It is our standard practice to verify permit requirements with your city or county early in the design process. Links to some cities and counties follow are listed below:


 

What do you charge for architectural services?


The fees for architectural design services are a function of several factors:

  • New Construction or Renovation / Addition
  • Multi-story or Ranch
  • Availability of existing drawings, if a Renovation or Addition
  • Site factors (topography, zoning, utilities, stormwater issues)
  • Foundation type (full basement, crawl space, slab, piers)
  • Extent of construction phase services desired
  • Historic District compliance
  • LEED certification
  • Phased construction

After an initial consultation with you to understand your unique goals and circumstances, we prepare a proposal for you as described in the following FAQ. The fee format is usually a lump sum amount for each design phase (Preliminary Design Phase, Final Design Phase and Construction Phase).


 

We’ve never worked with an architect or built a room addition. What is the process?


Our design process addresses the following milestones which are described more fully in the "I Want a Better House" Free Guide:

  1. clarify needs
  2. consider options
  3. assess costs
  4. prepare documents
  5. secure permits
  6. build

The process begins with us listening to your concerns, goals and ideas. We then prepare a proposal for design services which describes our scope of services and associated design fees. Upon acceptance of the contract, we develop a series of preliminary design options which address your goals. We meet with you to present these design options and listen to your feedback. Construction costs are then addressed before we finalize the drawings for permits and construction. Anton Architecture is service-oriented and emphasizes clear, ongoing communications. Our goal is always to expand upon our extensive portfolio of satisfied Clients.


 

We found a house plan on-line which we like, but we want a larger Master Bath. Can you work with this plan and get building permits for it?


We are routinely approached by prospective Clients armed with photos, magazine clippings and web links to houses which appeal to them. And they inevitably want to “tweak” them to suit their needs. One Client showed us a design for a ranch house which was “perfect for us, except that we want a 2-story house”. Our Clients all have unique tastes and approach us at different starting points. Although the designs are all markedly different, the design process is much the same. (See the "I Want a Better House Free Guide.) So yes, we can start with your ideas and “tweak” them to suit your tastes and comply with the local building codes as required for building permits.

 

How much does it cost to build a new house?


Construction costs (not including property acquisition or site development costs) for a new house range from $120 per square foot to $200 per square foot depending on the:

  • quality of materials (framing, insulation, siding, masonry, doors, windows)
  • quality of equipment (furnace, AC, energy recovery ventilator, solar panels)
  • quality of fixtures (plumbing, lighting)
  • level of finish (tile, hardwood, granite)
  • size (some economy of scale for larger projects)
  • complexity (floor plan shape, roof profile, foundation system)
  • location (labor market)
An equally important question is “How much does it cost to maintain and operate a house in the long run? The higher the quality of the materials, equipment and fixtures the lower the operation and maintenance costs. The level of finish, etc. can be adjusted based on the cost estimate at the Preliminary Design Phase. Anton Architecture can incorporate energy modeling early in the design process to manipulate building orientation & geometry, daylighting and insulation to improve energy efficiency.

 

What is a LEED house?


LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is a certification is issued through the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council). Certification of a prospective LEED project is determined through the LEED for Homes Rating System. The number of points achieved across a range of categories determines the certification level: Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum. The following video provides a brief explanation of the Certification Process: http://vimeo.com/5020871


 

Can you recommend a contractor for a new house?


Anton Architecture can refer you to a number of competent and trust-worthy contractors who can discuss their availability with you and provide you with references and certificates of insurance.


 

What can we do to make our home more retirement-age friendly?

Several “age-in-place” concepts tend to support retirement lifestyle goals:

  • Mobility Accessibility 
  • Comfort
  • Lower utility bills
  • Ample storage
  • Maintenance free
  • Compact & efficient

Anton Architecture can survey your home to identify obstacles and offer remedies to these goals. Some common specifics include:

  • Eliminate steps at one entrance (the front door, back door and/or garage).
  • Replace “tripper-type” thresholds with low-profile ones.
  • Widen hallways, doors and openings to allow wheelchair or walker access.
  • Reorient furniture to improve access to closets.
  • Replace round doorknobs with lever-type knobs.
  • Move the laundry room up from the basement (see the following FAQ).
  • Add or modify handrails to improve safety at stairways or even at single steps.
  • Renovate a bathroom to make it accessible with a wheelchair or walker. Include plumbing fixtures (shower, toilet, sink) and grab bars which improve ease of use.
  • Replace light fixtures with brighter, better placed and more-energy efficient ones.
  • Increase roof, wall and window insulation values to improve thermal comfort and energy performance.

These and other renovations improve ease-of-use and quality-of-life for people of any age.


 

We want to retire in our 3-bedroom ranch house. One obstacle is the basement laundry. Is it difficult to move the washer and dryer upstairs?


A one story house provides an ideal opportunity to move your laundry to the main living level, thereby avoiding the bane of retirement living…STEPS! Since you have a basement, it should be easy to the install electrical wiring and plumbing (hot & cold water and waste lines). Since your home is one-story, it will be easy to vent the dryer to the outside, either through the attic or through an exterior wall. By the way, building codes require venting the dryer to the outside; you can’t terminate the dryer vent inside the attic.

The washer and dryer can be designed to fit into a laundry “alcove” located off a hall or kitchen. Smaller washer/ dryer units such as Bosch’s 24” square model can be stacked to fit into existing closets or installed as side-by-side under-counter units with decorative cabinet doors. The countertop (just like your kitchen counter) provides ample folding space and wall cabinets provide concealed storage. Full size stacked front loaders are another good option. They consume less energy and use less water. If you prefer a Laundry Room, then you will need to build an addition or convert some existing space into the Laundry Room.