Samuel Sinnott and Company
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     Our Approach to Your Project
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What is Sinnott & Company's design philosophy?

At Sinnott and Company we attempt to design structures that age well and promote the client's needs. That includes careful consideration of function, style, construction costs and operation costs. Green or sustainable design features are an important part of this approach.

Projects are designed in recognizable styles, but with traditional flaws removed. Contemporary elements, including lighting, are mixed with traditional forms to create fresh interpretations of successful styles. Care is taken not to casually mix elements and confuse architectural themes.

We have also discovered that an unhurried design process creates the best buildings. A tremendous amount of time and money is spent converting a design concept into a building. Therefore an adequate amount of time should be spent on conceptual design.

What is Sinnott & Company's approach to doing business?

We let the client know what the schedule and budget are as early and realistically as possible. The decisions made during the architectural process determine the construction cost, schedules, and outcome. From the outset, we discuss construction budgets and construction schedules as well as design fees and schedules.

We do not shortcut design work to save the client fee. They pay for incomplete design many times over in additional construction costs and lost resale value.

Our focus is always the final built product. Great construction projects are the result of a great design process.

Because construction costs are about 10 times design fee, we spend whatever design time is necessary to control these costs. Design work is done on an hourly basis to provide flexibility for our clients and ourselves in this endeavor.

If we are fortunate enough to build your project after we design it, that work is done under a different agreement for a stipulated sum.

All of our field staff are nonsmoking professionals experienced in working in home and business environments. Their respectful approach keeps disruptions to a minimum.

Is there an advantage to working with an architect who builds rather than a contractor who designs?

Architecture is a rigorous discipline that takes years to master. Contractors who claim to be designers typically produce poor design work due to lack of training.

A project cannot be bid unless it is thoroughly documented. Many contractors prefer an incomplete set of documents to solve problems in the field and charge for it. This inefficiency results in a costly, delayed, inferior project.

Any contractor can advertise using the term "Design & Build", but they rarely have any design staff. Your project is usually given to an inexperienced, outside drafter you may never meet.

At Sinnott & Company we have in-house, licensed architectural and construction staff. Only licensed architects can use the term "Architecture". That license represents experience and quality.

When renovating or adding onto a residence, what are common problems?

Design Integration. Most people want the addition's exterior to be indistinguishable from the original house. Our solutions always consider the whole.

Cost and Schedule Overruns. Our staff provides preliminary cost estimating to help you make good design decisions early. Our bids always come in on budget after preliminary costing, and our schedules are realistic.

Are there advantages to working with a company that provides both architecture and construction services?

When the contractor and architect are separate, it is not unusual for the contractor to be at odds with the architect, creating an adversarial environment with negative effects on the project. That does not happen when Sinnott & Company performs both architecture and construction. When problems arise--as they often do--they are solved internally between members of the same company, who know each other and have experience working together. There is much less stress. It's in everyone's best interest (architect, contractor, and client) to solve problems this way.

Another advantage is that because we have been doing both architecture and construction for many years, our construction cost estimates are much more accurate. Most contractors are not equipped to provide detailed preliminary estimates. The client doesn't know what the project will cost until the bids come in. Cost estimation is done before the documents are ready to bid.

Bidding occurs only after construction documents are complete. Sinnott & Company provides all clients with a bid at the end of the design process, and we are often the lowest.

Why should I work with an architect who bills on an hourly basis for design work, rather than someone who gives me a predictable, fixed price?

Architecture is a puzzle. No two projects are the same. Clients need flexibility to change their minds and architects need to be able to suggest new ideas. Fixed fee agreements discourage that.

The drawings and documents prepared by the architect determine how much construction will cost. Design work should never be treated as a line item in a project budget, like framing or tile work.

It is nearly impossible to predict accurately how much time solving an architectural problem takes. Architecture on a fixed fee means someone is either paid more than it cost to prepare the work, or they cut service to meet their own budget. Design service reduction compromises the beauty of the project and/or has costly implications in the construction phase.

Hourly billing is fair to both the client and architect.

Also, design fees are a very good value. On a typical project, the architecture, structural engineering, landscape design, interior design, geotechnical engineering, and civil engineering are about equal to the overhead and profit paid to the contractor in addition to their costs.

How long has Samuel Sinnott & Company been in business?

Samuel Sinnott, AIA started the company in 1984 in Menlo Park, California. In the years since, the company has compiled a long list of satisfied clients in the South Peninsula, for both residential and commercial projects.

What design services does Sinnott & Company provide?

The company provides the following basic design services: Architecture, Structural Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering, from project inception through the issuance of a building permit.

Additional services include the following:
  • Measuring and documenting existing conditions
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Civil engineering/surveying
  • Interior design and interior architecture
  • Construction cost estimating
  • Public hearing submittals and reviews
  • Agency coordination
  • Design revisions after construction commences
  • Construction administration
  • Fire suppression design
  • Lighting design
  • Home theater design
  • Security system design
  • Computer network design
  • Material or performance specifications
  • Landscape design
  • Development feasibility studies
Most projects require some of these additional services.

How much are design fees on a typical project?

Samuel Sinnott, AIA bills design fees on an hourly basis. We believe this is the fairest approach to design billing.

To give clients an idea of how much they may end up paying for our design services, estimates of design fees, as a percentage of construction cost, appear in the table below:

       Estimate of
Basic Design Fee,
as a Percentage of
Construction Cost
to $300,000
to $500,000
to $1,000,000
to $1,500,000
to $2,000,000

Note that these are not to be interpreted as a cap or estimate of your fee. The fee you pay will depend on the scope and complexity of your project.

We are happy to discuss your project and our fees with you--please contact us.

What is Sinnott's approach to getting my project approved?

Agency approvals are getting more and more complicated. It is very important to research and anticipate which agencies and reviews are required in advance of designing your project. Prior to performing design work we prepare an approval strategy and schedule, including code and zoning ordinance 'landmines' that can harm your project.