Frequently Asked Questions

Motionspace://Frequently Asked Questions

In our practice, we focus on doing the two most important things in the architectural design field: providing good design and good service. Both of these elements are integrated into our Design Process.

The process starts by listening to you, asking questions, and taking a lot of notes. We want to understand what matters to you and how the project would work best for you. We identify problems and then turn them into design opportunities when possible. Rather than allowing a constraint to compromise the design, we look for ways to create something unique that also integrates your needs and ideas with all of our knowledge, creativity and expertise. In our design process, we solve your programmatic and functional requirements, but also strive to transcend these basics by creating design that is both experiential and sensory. By using space, light, color, detail and material we craft designs that provide a rich and layered experience appropriate for the time, the place, and the particular client.

We understand the personal investment of time and money our clients commit to their projects and we believe that when you hire us, you shouldn’t have to spend time reminding us of the things we are supposed to do. Our commitment to providing good service means focusing on project management so you don’t have to, being accessible to you when you need to discuss your project, and providing well drawn and complete design documents.

In addition to all of the above, we believe that the process should be enjoyable and creatively satisfying for everyone involved.

For an idea of the project size we have worked on see the Our Work section of our website. We typically design projects such as townhouses, new single family residences (custom and spec), whole-house remodels, and substantial additions. We have experience in commercial work and are interested in being considered for these types of project as well. In addition to the projects featured on this website, we have done a number of small remodels and additions for our clients that are not featured. We have redesigned entries, bathrooms, master suites, basement, kitchens (indoor and outdoor), and even swimming pools. If you can imagine it, we’ve probably done it before!

The Principal Architect of the firm and members of our staff have previously worked at larger architectural firms where they’ve been part of a design team working on large commercial and institutional buildings. Our experience is quite varied: we’ve worked on the architectural design of hospitals, stadiums, office buildings, hotels, assisted living facilities, club houses, multifamily housing, and restaurants. We enjoy working on a large variety of project types, so please contact us if you have a project you’d like us to consider.

In most cases we’ll help you find one or several contractors to consider for your project. Often we’ll recommend a company we’ve worked with in the past or a company we know that has a good reputation. If we haven’t worked with them, we’ll help you determine if they are qualified to construct your project.

Many times, we are recommending moving the contractor selection process toward the beginning of the design process in order to help guarantee contractor availability and to assist in pricing and constructability issues through the design process. We’ll help you determine the best process for your project and the appropriate time to select a contractor.

For most of our projects an interior designer is not necessary unless you need help choosing a significant amount of furniture, rugs, window coverings, and decorative accessories. Typically we, as architects, design and specify everything attached to the interiors of your project such as tile, wood flooring, carpet, cabinets, appliances, plumbing fixtures, and even paint colors. During the architectural design process we typically draw appropriately scaled furniture in our plans to help ensure the spaces we design will be flexible for furniture arrangements. When clients want to keep certain pieces of furniture, we measure them and include them in our drawings to be sure they fit.

For some projects, an interior designer can be a great asset. When this is the case, we recommend bringing them in to the design process early for the best results.

Many architectural projects will require the design services of a licensed structural engineer. We may also recommend hiring a mechanical engineer to prepare drawings and specifications if you are interested in incorporating complex heating/ventilation/cooling systems. We typically recommend consultants to work with unless you know of someone you’d like to work with.

Many projects will require the services of a licensed surveyor if you do not have a current survey of your property. A civil engineer and/or a geotechnical consultant may be required on more complex residential, multifamily, and commercial projects. Some projects require assembling a team of consultants including an interior designer and landscape architect. We can assist you in choosing compatible individuals for a professional design team.

We encourage having necessary consultants involved early in the design process and have found that a collaborative effort will produce the best results.

Often times a house has to be renovated in smaller phases when the financial resources are available. We can help you determine the best possible process, and help you with each of the phases to end up with a cohesive end product. Typically we begin by designing the entire “built-out” project then help you divide the project into manageable phases.

For more information on phased projects, see our article: The Benefits of using a Building Information Model (BIM).

Our experience is that clients request so many changes to stock plans that you are better off beginning from scratch with us designing a solution that truly meets your needs and goals. When we design a project we take advantage of qualities specific to your site like solar access (so important in Seattle!), topography (slope), views, and other site specific factors that stock plans cannot address. Our experience is that the investment in a well conceived architectural design will add greater value to the finished project and will be better suited to its inhabitants.

Additionally, with the many differing requirements of local jurisdictions, it is difficult for stock plans to address the requirements of local building departments. For example, projects constructed in Seattle and other regions often must meet local energy code requirements and certain structural requirements to be sure your structure will resist lateral loads from an earthquake or strong winds. Often times a stamped set of structural calculations is required to be submitted to the building department (Seattle almost always requires this for larger additions and new construction). Every jurisdiction has its own Land Use Code that specifies setbacks, height limits and a host of other code requirements. Rarely are any of these provided or addressed with stock plans purchased from websites or plan books. We feel you will get a better design and one that is uniquely suited to you and your site if you hire an Architect.

When arriving at a total project cost it is important to understand the difference between Construction Cost and Project Cost. Construction Cost is the amount paid to a contractor (typically a General Contractor) for construction of your project. Construction Cost includes the contractor’s overhead and profit (in Seattle and surrounding regions this typically is 12%-20%).

Project Cost includes Construction Cost plus sales tax, permit fees, and fees of design professionals. Typically, the above items add 20%-25% to your Construction Cost. When estimating total project cost, you may also want to include the cost of the land and utility connections (if applicable) and the cost of owner furnished items such as equipment, furnishings and any other items necessary for the project to be used for its intended purpose.

For more information on calculating construction and design costs, see our article on Construction and Design Cost Estimating.

Like many other small architecture firms in Seattle, we typically charge hourly for our services. Charging hourly allows us to tailor the extent of our services to your specific project needs and guarantees you pay for only the amount of work necessary for your project. For our usual full services, residential clients should budget between 10% -12% of construction cost for new construction, and around 15% of construction cost for remodeling projects. Construction cost does not include the cost of the land, sales tax, building permit fee, or fees of design professionals.

The majority of architectural and other design fees are paid before construction of the project begins. Typically, we bill once a month for services performed in the previous month plus any reimbursable expenses. If you are financing your project, you may want to speak to your lender about financing design fees or inquiring whether the amount paid for design fees can be included as a portion of your required down payment. Before beginning work, we require a retainer (the amount will vary depending on the project size). The retainer is credited to your final billings and any remaining amount is returned to you.

Our current hourly rates range from $50/hr for Administration to $120/hr for the Principal Architect’s time. We set our rates very competitively compared to other Seattle architectural firms, especially for the experience level of our personnel. We believe that having more experienced personnel working on projects results in a better outcome with less cost to the client.

Most clients pay by check, but if you wish to pay by credit card, that can be arranged (but may be subject to transaction fees).

Motionspace Architecture + Design is located in Seattle, Washington. The majority of our past and current work is in Seattle, Bellevue, Maple Valley, Renton, Redmond, Kent and Mercer Island. We work in any region of the Puget Sound area and will consider projects in areas beyond. With email, digital photos, PDF drawings, and other communication technology, we’ve been able to design projects outside our region with great success. We have completed projects in North Carolina, Colorado and Illinois.

Nazim Nice, the principal of the firm, is a licensed architect in the State of Washington and Illinois. He also holds a NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) Certificate, signifying he has met a National standard to be licensed as a professional Architect.

Motionspace Architecture and Design PLLC is located in Seattle, Washington, and is a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC) which is a designation reserved for professions like architecture that have licensure requirements. Motionspace Architecture and Design PLLC is insured and holds a Professional Liability Insurance Policy and Errors and Omissions Insurance.

We did! In our daily work as architects, we organize a large amount of information into drawings and specifications that contractors use to construct our projects. Our website also organizes a lot of information into a structured design which needs to communicate clearly to our clients and potential clients. We believe that good architects are also good at communicating their ideas graphically and in written form. While we are often told we have one of the best architectural websites in Seattle, we are always striving to improve it. If you have questions or suggestions please let us know.