Acadia-Architecture Davide Giannella
644 N. Santa Cruz Ave Suite 6
Los Gatos, CA 95030
3D Rendering, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), Architectural Design, Architectural Drawings, Barn Design & Construction, Basement Design, Basement Remodeling, Bathroom Design, Building Design, Custom Home, Deck Design, Energy-Efficient Homes, Floor Plans, Garage Design, Green Building, Guesthouse Design & Construction, Historic Building Conservation, Home Additions, Home Extensions, Home Gym Design & Construction, Home Remodeling, Home Restoration, House Plans, Kitchen Design, Landscape Plans, Laundry Room Design, Modular Home Additions, Mudroom Design, Multigenerational Homes, New Home Construction, Outdoor Kitchen Design, Passive Solar Heating & Cooling, Pool House Design & Construction, Prefab Houses, Project Management, Rooftop Deck Installation, Site Preparation, Space Planning, Staircase Design, Sustainable Design, Tiny House Construction, Universal Design, Custom Homes, Interior Design
Campbell, Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, San Jose, Saratoga
Licensed Architect LEED
I am sorry that you feel this way.
I welcome your feedback and I think this discussion is a great opportunity for all of us to learn valuable lessons and I am certain it will be helpful to other projects.
I've tried several times to reach out to you when I was informed of the sum of issues, but that was at the end of the construction and when you had already closed any communication with us after several lies on part of your builder.
When it appears that there are construction issues, it would be great to ask the architect
to be involved in the discussion. I asked to do that, at no avail.
Several of the items you mentioned, you didn't even ever discussed with me directly when they were happening.
After your project, which I loved designing very much, I have put in place a higher quality check system and will demand regular feedback on part of the chosen builder, if the client wants my involvement at all, during the construction phase.
This is what happens when, the builder you hired, being incredibly late with the schedule and after she underbid your project (by her own admission to me while complaining about the complexity of the design), decides to constantly criticize and blame the interior designer, the structural engineer, and the architect (behind their backs ), as we can all testimony (since she would say one thing to one of us and then another to the other team member).
These three professionals were the same people who always and immediately responded, even over the weekend, day and late evenings, for free, to her distressed calls to try and help with her mistakes or last minute changes. We always do that. Our clients know that.
And being always at the site, she convinced you of her truth so that you interrupted communication with us (and didn't fully pay the interior designer who spent so much time running around trying to help you making decisions who were never firm) and so we couldn't really help further, just to mention one aspect of this situation.
But I will go through all of the issues you mentioned; my email trails substantiate these facts.
As you will recall, but don't mention, just before you started construction, knowing that the builder had made several basic large mistakes on a previous project, I had asked you to meet with me, which we did, and I asked to please keep me posted, keep an eye open, inform me of any change, as when the G.C. calls me for a change, an issue, it can often be too late.
As you know I was not hired to do any construction observation yet I did stop by the site, at least 10 times for free, even randomly out of my own initiative. There are witnesses for that.
Along with that, I have emailed (I have a record of that) the builder inviting her multiple times to meet at my office with her foreman to go over, in a calm and comfortable environment, each sheet of drawings, to have a kickoff meeting (again without charging for my time) so to discuss any potential complex element in the design prior to commencement.
She refused, because “the foreman is too shy to meet outside of job-sites”, and we needed to wait to have a foundation in place first and then have a kickoff meeting over drawings together at the job site while framing is happening, amid confusion.
I am honestly sorry you were so swayed since we had a great working relationship prior to this ending: it is always in my interest that projects run smoothly, and almost always do.
-The fireplace: I had mentioned to you, early on, when talking of budget, that since you wanted to be a strong part of the interior design efforts, that all appliances etc. you were to choose so that you'd also have a direct cost control. Among them, the fireplace model (which in fact you chose).
What was initially in the plans was just (as I said that before) a place-holder (an older model in fact) to simply get the building permit, and then you could choose the actual one. Of course, the builder never bothered to meet with you and review your list of fixtures etc. so didn't care to see what fireplace specs were needed before framing the fireplace box. That initial box with dimensions was there for almost a year before construction commenced, from the get go, for everyone to review.
I offered several interior layouts to work with the revised fireplace dimensions but they were not used. Also the engineer confirmed that enlarging the fireplace box by a foot or so didn't imply any structural modification whatsoever being over a slab and just at the studs framing stage. Again, the builder made it sound very complicated and so you didn't want to modify it.
Other builders normally discuss even tubs specs etc. before starting to understand how to route things. This never happened in this case.
The furnace issue is the most unfair item in this list of yours. I added on this site the approved floor plan of your house (which stayed the same pretty much).
Anyone can see that by the garage there's a nook, specifically designed for mechanical items and the F.A.U. is called out there along with the tank-less water heater.
Your house was designed with a crawl space. The furnace in the garage of course
should have had had duct-works going underneath the first floor floor and serve that level without any soffit or relocating of the furnace.
But because the builder forgot to cut through the garage concrete stem-wall to let the ducts pass through, into the crawl space, she put the furnace closet into the laundry-room. I never, ever, design any house with soffits or chases for mechanical. I use two furnaces to serve two independent floors. Why would I need soffits and chases on the first floor, on a raised floor? Mystery.
Note that I saw this change already framed when I visited the site. And when asked as to the why: all kind of meaningless reasons were thrown at me, and of course you were too stressed and rightfully wanted to quickly move on, when really things should have been reverted to the original approved floor plan.
The laundry room is one of those items here never discussed with me. Any changes to it of course stemmed from the mistake just mentioned above about the F.A.U. relocated there. I don't even know how the laundry room has been re-designed. In the original drawing, which anyone can see on this site, the washing machines have plenty of room on each side.
And once an appliance is installed in place, it can always also be removed if you don't modify that space.
The roof small ½ degree of slope change also was never discussed with you. It was the builder who called me saying we had to do that or some upper windows wouldn't fit. I ran to the site that day, I followed up with a revision that same day, so did the structural engineer (and it was not a big deal at all).
Honestly, I don't know if there was a mistake on my part, although it's possible in this case, or if some dimensions for the framing were off to start with, and I couldn't verify on the spot two stories of raised walls and roofs angles and heights. I just tried to make things work quickly.
However I then checked my sections, angles on my drawings, even today in fact, and it all works out in the section. It's all done in BIM, 3D CAD, so if I put a window, it either fits or doesn't and the section will show that.
These items happened during the framing time, which was fairly quick. The big delays dragged for many months later on when you were dealing with the interior designer and were never happy with the many interior finishes proposed because you wanted to design it yourself.
-Sheer walls: You changed your mind about windows locations several times a;although they were shown on the drawings for almost a year.
Every perimeter wall not used by an opening, is automatically made to be a sheer wall by the engineer. All of them.
So, there's no surprise about this item. If you want to move a window, the engineer will have to run some calcs and verify that it can be done. As I said, it could be done and it was, in fact, done.
And these changes happened for free from both the engineer and I, and quickly.
Same for the kitchen wall. The design was there for many many months. If you want to shorten a wall, just mention it to the architect, the builder and the engineer and it will happen, but of course before construction has started.
Otherwise, while still possible to remove some hold-downs from an already built sheer wall, it will cost time and money.
You seem to forget a few other elements: during construction, one major element of delay was your decision to add a porch to the rear of the house, after the building permit was issued and with a design decided on the spot.
Something I designed and revised many times along with a structural engineer and submitted to the city as a revision, entirely for free. And while modifying exterior finishes locations several times to accommodate these chances. And providing 3D views to better explain these items.
-Exterior colors: Also this item is completely not true. Again, for free, I made several versions of the exterior colors and renderings for you to get ideas, (one of them even shown on this website) knowing eventually you'd make up your mind by yourself. We met at my office, and discussed two complete different versions of colors for you, way after the building permit was issued. And it was not part of my standard agreement to do that.
I always propose a color scheme to my clients with some variations, and then I let them choose what they feel would better represent their place. You left that meeting happy of the choices and I never heard back about them again.
So why this note about the exterior colors, my preferences or roofing color decisions?
-During that session, I saved you from your idea of using a plastic product for the exterior siding which looked awful, industrial, rough, and that would have been very hot to the touch and never would have yielded the same effect the current wood siding does.
-We spent a lot of time studying different front yards layouts while I was trying, uselessly, to explain to you, that all the hardscape you wanted (all concrete) was not allowed by the city and would not be great in general. Again, not in my contract to act as landscape designer, but I did those alternate studies for you guys, at no charge.
-4X is one of the best structural engineering firms you can find. All clients (not just mine) love them.
The reason your builder wanted to have another engineer during construction, was that 4X was pointing out her deficiencies (lack of knowledge, as Efe Sozkesen said) and wouldn't write letters of approval on demand for meaningless requests.
So, she ran to hire a temporary one, who had recently been fired by his previous company for stolen intellectual property and misrepresentation.
She constantly verbally attacked our interior designer, Kyle Le, even mentioning that his design was too “effeminate”. Kyle often reported to me that it was as if his drawings were never observed or even looked at by the builder. In fact the plumbing layout was what really delayed your project.
She posted photos of the project (which is my intellectual property) without crediting the designers.
So, in this type of unhealthy environment, I tried, we did try, to make things flow as smoothly as possible, always agreeing with your choices and changes. I came to the site the same day it was requested, when possible, also thanks to its proximity, and we answered calls and text messages even during the weekend, not to be a bottleneck.
Again, I am really, honestly sorry you are not happy with the construction phase, but the built house overall design is pretty much what is shown in the architectural and structural drawings, so that no real changes were needed.
I enjoyed working with you on the design phase and most of the construction part.
It is a beautiful house.