JFA Architecture Announced as a “Best Of Houzz 2015” Winners!

Annual Survey and Analysis of Community of Over 25 Million Monthly Users Reveals Top-Rated Home Remodeling Professionals and Design Trends

Houzz (www.houzz.com), the leading platform for home remodeling and design, today announced the community’s picks for Best Of Houzz 2015, a homeowner-to-homeowner guide to the top home builders, architects, interior designers, landscape pros and other residential remodeling professionals on Houzz from tile, stone and countertop pros to painters.

“Houzz connects people with the best home professional for their project by providing the only 360-degree view of a professional, from their portfolio, client reviews, awards and accreditations to their work style and expertise based on their participation in the Houzz community,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “We’re delighted to join our community in recognizing the talented professionals on Houzz who are delivering incredible designs and delightful customer experiences.”

Customer Service honors are determined by a variety of factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2014

Remodeling and Home Design

JFA Architecture Wins Two Contractor of the Year Awards and Award for Professionalism

January 30, 2012

Joseph F. Augustine, Architect

JFA Architecture, P.C.

Phone: (215) 517-8068

Email: jaugustine@jfa-architecture.com

Websites: www.jfa-architecture.com, www.bucksmontnari.org


 JFA Architecture Wins Two Contractor of the Year Awards and Award for Professionalism

 Wyncote, PA—Joseph Augustine, owner of JFA Architecture has been honored with a Professionalism Award, as well as two Contractor of the Year (CotY) Awards by the Bucks-Mont Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI.) His design work on two residential addition projects in the $100,000 to $250,000 and $250,000+ categories earned JFA Architecture and their contractor partners the coveted CotY Awards. Both of the award winning renovations involved a residential addition featuring a kitchen.

For the addition in the $100,000 to $250,000 category, JFA teamed with Doyle Remodeling to affect an amazing transformation to a circa 1873 twin home owned by the Bower family. For this renovation, JFA was tasked with marrying the old with the new. Prior to the renovation, the Bower residence featured a small, dark kitchen so cramped that the refrigerator didn’t fit in the room. To create the space the family required, Augustine took advantage of an underutilized side porch which provided the square footage necessary to accommodate a spacious kitchen with an adjoining mudroom. By carrying details like period trim and wood mouldings throughout the renovated areas, JFA Architecture was able to create a design that was beautiful, functional and preserved the Victorian character of the home.

The project that received the CotY Award in the $250,000+ category was an addition for the Mauro family. For this award winning remodeling project, JFA teamed with Gemmi Construction. Prior to the renovation, the rooms in the Mauro residence were gloomy and secluded. The kitchen was dated and lacked storage and counter space, as well as many other entertaining-friendly features the homeowners desired. With this in mind, JFA Architecture went to work envisioning a new space to meet their needs.

Fortunately, the Mauro property had available space in the rear which could be utilized to expand the footprint of the home. With this gain in space, Augustine was able to design a large kitchen that could accommodate an ample, furniture-style center island with an extra thick granite top, prep sink, under counter storage and room for four bar stools. The new kitchen also featured a breakfast nook with a beautiful view to the back yard. To enhance the transition between rooms, JFA widened doorways and added transom windows. This also made the rooms brighter by allowing in more natural light.

The Mauro family was thrilled with the outcome sharing, “The end result exceeded our expectations.  The addition and renovated spaces look beautiful and most importantly to us, everything was designed and built to compliment the original character of our home. We could not be happier.”

Judging for the 2012 CotY competition was conducted by an impartial panel of NARI representatives from the Central New Jersey and Del-Chester chapters. These industry experts selected winners based on each entrant’s “before and after” photography and project description.  Judging was based on problem solving, functionality, aesthetics, craftsmanship, innovation, degree of difficulty and entry presentation. This is a stringent selection process. Regardless of the number of entries, CotY’s are only awarded to companies whose work is deemed to be of the highest caliber.

For more information on JFA Architecture and additional photos of this project, visit www.jfa-architecture.com or contact Joseph Augustine at: (215) 517-8068.


Remodeling vs. New Construction – Is There a Difference?

Can a residential contractor manage both remodeling projects and new construction projects successfully? Well that depend. On the surface, remodeling and new construction appear to be similar. But are they? Sure, they both incorporate similar materials & products and upon completion the may even appears to be identical.  However, there are inherent differences between each project type; some obvious and some not-so-obvious. Our firm provides architectural services for remodeling projects as well as new construction. Over the past decade, we have observed the unique differences between the two project types.

While a new home is typically constructed in a methodical sequence from commencement to completion, a home renovation often involves many intricate steps that need to be coordinated with clock-like precision. Selective or partial demolition is a common component of a home renovation. Frequently load-bearing walls are removed and structural members are modified. The existing construction needs to be  properly supported until the new framing elements are in place. In response to the desire for an open-plan, it is customary to reroute and reconfigure mechanical, electrical systems and plumbing (ask Plano plumbers how), whence interior walls are removed.

The construction schedule for a renovation project is often impacted by the fact that the homeowner is living in the house during the project. Items such as start & end times of the workday will need to respond to the homeowner’s schedule. There may be “black-out” days on the schedule that are caused by life-events. The work schedule should be clearly reviewed with the homeowner prior to commencement.  Moreover, the contractor and sub-contractors need to be aware of their behavior on the job-site. The significance of a smoke-free job-site with acceptable language and appropriate music cannot be over emphasized.

A fundamental goal of renovation projects is to complement the existing character of the home. An addition should not look like it is an addition. The new work should be woven into the fabric of the existing construction. It is also important to consider the personality of the neighborhood. The materials for the project should be selected to create a coherent design solution. A remodeling project will regularly require the need to accurately replicate details and profiles.

Large renovation projects are often divided into smaller, manageable phases. A master-plan will illustrate the overall project in its entirety. The intent of a master-plan is for each phase of the project to be “self-sufficient” and not dependent upon the later phases to be considered complete. It is common for the architect, remodeler and homeowner to work together to create a master-plan for the project.

Like most relationships, success comes from good communication and teamwork. -jfa

How to Select a Remodeling Professional

Here is an informative pamphlet written by The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), entitled, “How to Select a Remodeling Professional”. It covers topics such as Project Approach; The General Contractor, The Design-Build Contractor and the Architect.  It also identifies the essential components of the Construction Contract.

JFA Architecture is a member of the Bucks-Mont Chapter of NARI.

(The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), the only independent association dedicated to the remodeling industry is a not-for-profit trade association with more than 50 years of industry experience. NARI represents professional
remodeling contractors, product manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, trade publications, utilities and lending institutions. NARI is committed to enhancing the professionalism of the remodeling industry and serving as an ally to homeowners.)

Designing Homes that are Environmentally Conscious

There has been a lot of “buzz” lately about “green building”.  There are many issues that come under the heading of environmentally conscious construction.  Even before the current focus placed upon being “green”, we have taken a conservative approach towards design and construction.

We begin each project by studying and analyzing site features; topography, solar orientation and landscaping are all considered.  As the design begins, we efficiently plan rooms and spaces that maximize their potential uses.  Our designs often incorporate open plans that not only provide spaces with multiple uses; it allows views and vistas through the home.  The reduction of wasted space is the greatest contributor to reducing the environmental impact of the project.

There are varying degrees of “green” building materials.  We can assist in understanding the breadth of choices as well as the benefits and costs of these materials.  Our projects are designed with features such as; higher levels of insulation, energy efficient windows and low levels of air infiltration to reduce the energy required for heating and cooling. -jfa

Visit www.jfa-architecture.com to learn more.


Working with an Architect

Collaborating with an architect is often the name of the game for remodelers working on home improvement projects.  Sometimes a client comes to a contractor with architectural plans already done, and in other instances, a designer is brought in to help with the layout of a specific area of a project.  Navigating the relationship between contractor and architect can sometimes be a touchy situation, but it does not have to be.  Like most relationships, success comes from good communication and teamwork.

Architects and remodelers come to the table with different skill sets.  Architects have the reputation and schooling for creative design and often take the time to stay up on current product trends.  Remodelers take stock in having the means and the methods needed to get a project done successfully.  They rely on years of hands-on experience to troubleshoot projects and often take a practical approach to specifying materials and products used in a remodel.  For these two professionals to work together, both parties need to set aside the ego and share control of the project.

The success of a project is contingent upon the tripartite relationship of owner, architect and builder.  Each party has a unique role that they must contribute to the project.  A remodeler is a skilled craftsman that excels in the art of construction.  They are not trained designers or space planners.  To expect a remodeler to design a building, places an unnecessary burden upon them that they are not educated to solve.

Conversely, while architects are trained in the design and constructability of a building, they cannot provide a definitive construction budget.  At best, they can consult trade publications that may or may not accurately reflect the current costs based upon industry averages.  Architects take a holistic view of the entire project.  They realize that no part of the project exists in a vacuum and therefore, each and every component of a project affects the others.  By the way, most townships and communities in Pennsylvania require construction documents to be prepared by a licensed architect.

In many cases, it makes sense for the architect to oversee the design decisions while the contractor takes charge of how to get the building done.  Control should be shared, or passed back and forth, during different stages of a project.  If there are differences in opinion, it is best for architects and designers to work out a solution that will best satisfy the client’s needs, not their own.

The essence of the relationship is collaboration.  The collaboration of an architectural firm proficient in design excellence and a remodeler that excels in quality construction is the foundation for success.  If this is true, then it only seems logical for remodelers and architects to align themselves in strategic partnerships from the beginning when marketing projects.

When remodeling projects are approached from a design-build basis, the architecture and budgeting are developed concurrently.  As each phase of the design is completed by the architect, the remodeler is able to inform the owner of the probable cost of the project.  This checks and balance keeps all of the team members enlighten without the fear of surprises.

A design-build approach avoids the pitfalls that some homeowners incur when presented with bids from multiple remodelers that are all beyond the anticipated project budget.  This occurs when the construction documents are completed without the benefit of accurate cost estimating.  After several months of the homeowner becoming intimately attached to the project of their dreams, they are confronted with the reality that it is beyond their budget.  Even after the project is redesigned to conform to their budget, the homeowner is left with the regret of what the project could have been.  This series of events is a detriment to the homeowner’s time, budget and patience.

Therefore, it appears to be most apparent, that the architect and remodeler need to rely upon the unique skills and expertise of one another to successfully design and construct an award-winning project.  The design-build collaboration affords the homeowner several benefits; a project that is distinctively designed; a project cost that fits within their budget; and a project constructed in a beautiful manner.

How the term “Design-Build” is often misused?

Often times, a general contracting company will inappropriately use the term “design-build” to describe their services when in fact a licensed architect is not being consulted.  They may simply have a “creative” draftsman in their office that has basic drafting skills.

The fact is, general contractors are expected to be skilled craftsmen that excel in the art of construction.  They are not trained architects or space planners.  Expecting a contractor to design a building, places an unnecessary burden upon him that he is not trained to solve.  One just needs to look at the many mediocre homes that populate our communities!

Conversely, while architects are trained in the design and constructability of a building, they cannot provide a definitive construction budget.  At best, they can consult trade publications that may or may not accurately reflect the current costs based upon industry averages.

Architects take a holistic view of the entire project.  They realize that no part of the project exists in a vacuum and therefore, each and every component of a project affects the others.

By the way, most townships and communities in Pennsylvania require construction documents to be prepared by a licensed architect.