Craftsmanship in stone
 and wood since 1981



    The purpose of this page is to give an idea of what our approach is to design.  
We are not primarily a design company, or a drafting service. Any designing that we do , we do because we want to get  a chance to build that work. We can and do design all of the things that we build.  That list includes entrances, patios, retaining walls, landscapes, decks , traditional porches, additions, sunrooms, and any kind of standard residential construction. About half of that list requires building permits and the other half doesn't. At this time, we are subcontracting  the production of the working drawings for jobs that require permits.

I try not to bring a set style to any project, but rather to work from the particular requirements that confront me when I am presented with an individual client and site.

Limits are essential. These are usually; the client's tastes and budget; the purpose of the work; structural limitations of the proposed building material; restrictions imposed by the site, the building code, zoning, any existing structures, or the neighborhood.  

The client's tastes and budget:   Most people have a fairly good idea of what they want and how much they expect  to spend. There are exceptions. Some people just want things to look better and have no idea how to get there. Once or twice, I have run into an unlimited budget and been given a more-or-less blank cheque. But in general, the more completely a client's preferences and budget can be specified, the better. People are often reluctant to name  a budget, usually, I think,  because they are concerned about being taken advantage of. However, even a ballpark range is helpful at the beginning of the design process in defining the scope of the work that is being considered.

We are commonly presented with this; " I need a new entrance (or deck, or addition or sunroom, etc.) . Mine is falling apart. (or nonexistent) I've seen work that you did down the street and really like it. My neighbor says you were good to work with. What can you do for me? " Usually they know what their neighbor paid and so have a general idea of cost. Often a client has a particular material in mind. For us , of course, it is often stone or wood, but it could be anything. I see my responsibility in this situation as being to supply a desiqn and quote that will meet the client's basic request, but will also reflect all the other requirements that an inexperienced person often  isn't familiar with. These might include; functional requirements, good proportion, graceful shapes, proper sizing to suit the intended use, structural requirements including building code regulations, proposing materials and techniques that will stand the test of time, detailing that is appropriate the home, etc. And then building it well.

Occasionally, clients have a unique idea, sometimes their own inspiration that they need help realizing.  This is a great opportunity for a design/builder.  Experienced designers or builders can become creatures of habit, so an unusual requirement is, for me , very welcome. Patio #6 on the   Patios page   is a good example of this. This small patio was really the client's design. I refined it a little, and of course, we were able to build it well, which was beyond him. The idea of an exact, geometrically shaped patio is one that I will use again.          

The purpose of the work;      By this , I mean the actual use that the work will be put to. For an entrance, at it's most basic level, it's purpose would be to provide a safe, functional way to get from the street or driveway to the door of the house. After that , one would want it to feel welcoming, be graceful, be appropriate to the home and neighborhood, etc.  
A backyard patio's purpose would be to provide adequate space for a table and chairs, BBQ,etc. There are basic and refined purposes for most projects.

Structural limitations;    All materials have limitations. Stone has lots of them, and must be used appropriately or the work will simply fall apart. The shapes and possible sizes of porch roofs are determined mostly by the strength limitations of lumber. Building code requirements are usually completely practical and helpful. Occasionally, a requirement will bother clients. One that I hear often is that the guard (railings) requirements for decks make the handrail too high to see over when sitting down. Part of the designer's responsibility is to make adjustments to design or materials as much as possible to accommodate both the  client and the codes.

Site restrictions;   This includes the existing structures, the size of the property, grading(whether it is level, sloping, etc) , type of neighborhood, zoning regulations,  etc. These all effect what is possible and what is appropriate. Zoning, for instance, can take you by surprise, particularly in older neighborhoods. For instance, sometimes,if you take down part of an existing structure, you will not be allowed to rebuild it because of changed zoning setbacks.


  The Design -Build Process  
    The design -build process starts with your phone call or email. After collecting basic information on the phone, we usually meet with you on the site to discuss the situation, your needs and tastes. There is usually no charge for this initial meeting. We can describe in general at this time what we would recommend and an approximate cost.  
   If our suggestions are of interest to you , we will do a design on paper with written quotation. Depending on the size of the proposed work, this design may also be without cost.  
    Should you accept our proposal, we then schedule the work. How soon the work can be done depends mostly on the time of year.  
      For a consultation call 613-286-9908 or email .