Framestudio FAQ

Is Framestudio an Architect or Interior Designer?

Both. We believe in a comprehensive approach to design, where everything in the home is thoughtfully considered, and is tailored to the needs of the homeowner. 

Have you done a project in my local community?

We work all across the greater Bay Area, and even as far away as Europe. While each community has their own set of design requirements, over the years we’ve found that there are more commonalities than differences between them. With our experience, we feel comfortable tackling the most stringent of community approval processes. 

Do you offer hourly design consulting services?

We do offer hourly design consulting with a $1000 minimum.  

How much will our project cost?

This question seems reasonable, but the snag is that every project is vastly different. Without a basic, schematic design to apply some pricing to, builders struggle to give accurate numbers. That said, there are metrics that we can use to give a very generalized idea of the cost of construction. For a newly constructed home, Framestudio’s work generally starts at $625 a square foot for construction costs only -no design fees, permits, etc. These are called soft costs. 


In rural and remote areas, bear in mind that site infrastructure like driveways, tree removal, septic, water wells can cost significant amounts of money. For remote locations like The Sea Ranch, we suggest increasing the cost to build to $1,000 a square foot, particularly in these unsettled pandemic days. Not all sites are equal, with certain sites costing more to build on than others. We offer hourly consulting services to help you select a site that is cost effective to build on.


For remodels, generalized costs are more of a challenge. For example, a kitchen costs more to remodel than a bedroom. We suggest using $450 a square foot as a conservative average cost. 


There is always someone who can build for less money. The numbers we provide are reflective of Framestudio's work, demonstrated in our portfolio.  

Do you accept kitchen and bathroom remodel commissions?

Our focus is generally on whole house remodels, however we do accept smaller commissions on a case by case basis (especially on midcentury homes). 

How much should I expect Framestudio’s Architectural fees to be? 

We have various levels of services, but as a general rule, the remodel projects you see on our portfolio range from 17-20% of the construction cost, with new construction costing less in fees.  . Our fees, along with permit fees, and other consultants are called soft costs. As a rule, you can count on the soft costs being equivalent to 25%+  of your construction costs. For example: $100,000 kitchen remodel. Soft costs would be $25,000, so your whole project would cost $125,000. We also recommend having at least 10% of your budget held aside in contingency for unexpected expenses.

How are Interior Design services billed?

We provide Interior Design services to architectural clients, from individual pieces to fitting out your vacation home down to the cutlery. Our interior design services are billed at our hourly rates, along with a industry standard 22% markup over the cost of the furnishings, after any industry discount is passed along. We arrange purchasing, delivery, inspection and installation for our clients, and we take care of any hiccups that happen along the way. 

What does Framestudio Specialize in?

Working primarily in the field of residential design (and doing the occasional commercial commission), we build European-style energy-efficient homes as well as additions and interior refurbishments. We have a penchant for Bay Area modernist architecture from the 20th century, and have worked  on homes by notable architects Joseph Esherick, Campbell and Wong, Fisher Friedman, Anshen and Allen, Henry Hill along with homes built by Eichler.

Does Framestudio work in styles other than modern?

We accept commissions that are similar to the work in our portfolio: modern, understated and timeless. We’re less interested in the latest design trend, than we are in creating a home that will stand the test of time and won’t need to be remodeled again in 10 years. We all remember avocado green appliances, right? Together, let's work together to avoid those mistakes.  

I like Framestudio’s work, but already know what I want. Can you draw the plans?

At Framestudio, our strength is our problem solving through design. A client who has solved all the problems and knows exactly what they want, would be better served by another firm. 

Can I use my own builder, engineer, etc?  

They say in Silicon Valley that you learn more from failure than from success. Over the years, we learned the hard way that we design things a bit differently, and not every builder has the skills, much less the enthusiasm, to build the way we do. Having the right team is key to success, both in realizing the design, but also in the ease of the process.  


Like many residential firms of our caliber, we recommend selecting a builder early during the design process. This way, the entire team can collaborate on the design, managing budgets, schedules and expectations. 


As a cautionary tale, we’ve had clients be seduced by lower bids and faster timelines from other contractors. Without fail, these projects end up taking longer, and costing more in construction costs and in our fees than the original bid. In one particular case the client was delivered a home that was vastly different from their design. We’ve worked hard to put together a winning team, and we strongly recommend working with our recommendations. 

How much will Chad be involved on my project?

For your project, you will be assigned a Project Lead who will be your primary point of contact. Your Lead will work in tandem with Chad to develop the design of your home. The Lead will be supported by a Draftsperson, and an Admin to help manage the project and keep you informed of the progress. Framestudio accepts a limited number of commissions in order to keep Chad involved in all aspects of your project. 

How long will the design and building process take?

Design takes time, permitting takes time, and construction takes even longer. We advise clients to expect 4-6 months in design time, 1-2 months for planning and permitting, and construction takes 6 months at minimum. In a remote area like The Sea Ranch, it is increasingly difficult to find contractors that can begin work any sooner than 1-2 years down the line. Your availability, speed of your responses, and decisiveness will keep up the momentum on your project and reduce cost in all phases of the process. 

Where do we meet?

Meetings will be conducted by digital means, and if necessary, at your home, jobsite, at our downtown Oakland office or our base in Sonoma at The Sea Ranch. 

What are your business hours?

Our team is available to you Monday through Friday, during the hours of 9 and 6, and can be reached by phone or email during these times.   We discourage text messaging. Meetings will be conducted by digital means, at your home or at our downtown Oakland office. We offer early morning and early evening meetings to accommodate our clients’ busy schedules. You can expect emails and calls to be responded to by the end of the next business day.   

Can I pay with a credit card?

You will receive a billing along with a project update, on a monthly basis. We request payment within 15 days and encourage the use of electronic payments. We accept credit cards, with a 3% surcharge, as well as electronic funds transfer, at no charge. Our industry runs on slim profit margins, so we are forced to pause work on your project when any invoice becomes past due.