What we offer

Architecture, Interior Design, Planning, Design, Home planing, AdditionsHere, we offer plans, help and advice about architecture, interior design and planning. We will answer basic quesitons for free so don't hesitate to send them.Our business is architecture, planning, interior design, and construction. We have offices in Italy and Southern California.We also offer drafting and 3D renderings to professionals. We work hourly or by fixed fee. Tell us about your project. Contact us: hmarch@hotmail.com and visit our main website http://www.hm-architects.com/

People Props for VectorworksVECTORWORKS PEOPLE PROPS A collection of props for Vectorworks using pictures of real people. To use them just load the file and select the symbol to place it in your drawing. Props take up very little file space and they always face the rendered view. To purchase them click on the links below. Use just a few of them once and the savings in time over making your own pays for them and you can use them as many times as you like. See a short video here: http://youtu.be/TfbmgxU8dJ0 NOTE: It is also available for previous versions of VW, let us know which one you need. Click on the purchase link and have People Props to use in minutes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Online Architect

We offer architectural services online. It may sound strange to work with an architect that you can't meet face to face, but it is possible. The internet and the many graphic tools available now allow for great communication. And we have free phone service to most of the world along with email, and the possibility of video conferencing.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Friday, July 06, 2007

Big projects - Big houses - Commercial Centers

Yes of course we can do them, have done them. If the projects big enough we will come to you or come to Italy where we are most of the time and spend a week of intensive design work say in the morning while touring the Dolomites in the afternoon.

Do you have a really big project? We also work with other much larger firms in the US and Italy and can coordinate the work between countries and languages. We have the American attitude towards getting the job done in a functional and cost effective way while including the Italian flare for good design.

House Plans Online

At this time you won't find house plan samples here. What we offer are custom plans to fit your needs all done by communicating over the internet, and personal meetings if your project is in So. California or Italy. Send a sketch, a picture, or a plan from a book, or just a list of the things you want and we will prepare an estimate of the cost of our work. Generally if we do the plans this way the total cost to you will not be more than you would spend buying ready made plans online then paying someone to bring them up to local codes. With over 30 years experience in designing homes there isn't much we haven't done so it's very easy for us to understand what you want and make your ideas a workable reality.

Currently we are working on projects in California, Canada, Mexico and Italy, so location is not a problem. We use a voice over the internet (voip) phone system so we can be reached by our California phone number wherever we are and there is not extra cost to you.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Italian Style

Don't know what else to call it. Anyway you saw the design for the bell tower, that's in Italy. Now we are doing some 3D and drafting work for a designer in the So. California area and this picture of the elavtor car will give you the idea. In some ways Italians are looking forward and Americans looking backward. One can speculate on the reasons, Americans without a long history long to have one and Italians maybe have had too much of a good thing. It's interesting.
By the way we didn't design this, just did the 3D which is very difficult to do. We use a CAD program called VectorWorks for all of our work from preliminary design to 3D modeling to construction drawings. Just having to learn one program makes life much easier. Actually the other program we use for design is called pen and paper, the old fashioned way of sketching ones ideas on a piece of paper is still the most efficient way to develop a basic idea.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Good News

We entered a design competition for a bell tower at one one the large churches in Belluno and our design was chosen. The actual project will just be the tower and it's base. We had designed an addition of a large plaza covering an existing parking area, but ownership issues of the land for parking would prevent the plaza being built as we designed. For the project we kept the design simple as the church is rather complicated and we wanted to unite the elements existing in the church rather than add to them. Using our CAD software we are able to capture pictures of the existing materials and use them in the 3D model.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Designer Invoices and Purchase Orders

Over the years I've developed several spread sheets for our office use. Now I've started to make some of these available for sale. The first one is an Excel workbook for Interior Designers that creates and somewhat automates the creation of a client estimate, to give to the client for inititial approval, a purchase order for the vendor and the final Invoice to be paid by the client. I think it's a big time saver.

If you would like to purchase it just look at the Item listed to the left of this and click on the buy now button. Once you've paid we will be notified and will send it to you by email. Don't forget to give us a current email address. Don't worry we will not share your email address with anyone, or email you again unless you ask to be put on a list for future products or notices.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Design, Additions, Remodels

Low cost design service for remodels and additions: We will review any sketches you send us and send back to you a revised sketch and written comments for $75 to $150 depending on the size of the project. This could be the best spent money on your project. Why? Because after 30 plus years of doing this as well as actually constructing some of our projects ourselves, we know what we are doing.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mortgage Loan Costs Compare

Confused about which loan to take, hi points, low interest, or low points higher interest. Plug in the numbers in our home loan calculater and compare loans. Click on this link:


Think you might only stay in the house a few years the calculater will give you an idea of actual monthly costs over various periods of time. You can change all the variables to see which makes the most sense in your situation. Email us if you would like the excell spread sheet for a small fee. john@hm-architects.com

Remember the numbers are just estimates so the actual costs may vary, but the comparisons are real.

Home building costs

Often we talk with clients or potential clients who have some idea of the square foot costs of building a new home. So in their planning they take the size home they want and multiply it by the square footage costs they have heard from friends or contractors and believe that should be the cost of their completed home. Of course most people would also include the cost of the land and some would remember to ad in the cost of a loan. But their are other costs. If you click on this link you can get a pretty good idea of the total costs and even see how much you would have to sell the home for to make a profit on your construction.

It's an excell spreadsheet, you can plug in the numbers shown in red that fit your situation. I've refined it over many years so it has become pretty accurate. If you would like a copy that you can use on your computer and print out, email us and for a small fee we will send you one. john@hm-architects.com

Friday, April 13, 2007

Help U Design

Why not get the advice of a hightly experienced architect without having to pay for the full service. We can show you how to ad a room, rearrange your kitchen or help you put your ideas into a plan that can actually get built.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Building a home in Italy

There are choices for building a home in Italy, they mainly involve building on vacant land or rebuilding one of the many older and sometimes falling down structures.

Which is more economical rebuilding or building new really just depends on the total cost of everything. In general to rebuild an existing but unlivable structure costs at least as much as new and usually a bit more. I think I'll write more about this on my blog in a day or so. The deciding factor would be the cost and availability of vacant buildable land.Our experience in rebuilding part of the Luisa's paternal family home in Pradipozzo was that getting the permit to rebuild was fairly easy, but since it is agricultural land we could not add even a square meter. We were allowed to rebuild even the torn down stable into a subtantial building. And then there were also the design issues, the design had to conform to the original, no big windows etc.Here in Belluno when we rebuilt the villa on Luisa's maternal side we had a big legal battle over rebuilding a large area that had been torn down many years ago. At first it was denied then after a law suit was filed with the region we have now more or less been given permission to rebuild it - more or less because leagally we are allowed to but we have not submitted plans and don't know what will be the next reaction. Rebuilding the structure that actually existed was relatively easy though getting the permits took a while as the city considers it an historical structure. It's interesting that having to raise the roof for structural reasons created an additional floor and additional sq. meters.So there are several ways to build, the safest is to buy vacant land that is certified buildable and make sure that the seller backs that up. Another is to buy a property that has basically a ruin on it, a third is to buy an existing building and rebuild it, a forth would be to buy an existing building that was not residential and convert it to residential. The fourth is risky unless the seller has already converted it use (destination) to residential. I would not advise anyone to buy vacant land that is not certified as buildable and hope to make it so. That could take 10 years as in the previous response or even longer or perhaps never happen. Italians are rightly very protective of their open and agricultural spaces. Who would want to visit an Italy of urban sprawl.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Who Needs An Architect?

The architect is one of the last generalists in the professions. His training generally includes an overall view of all the trades and professions connected to the planning, design and construction of our built environment. The architect’s education in the United States for example is relatively long and rigorous consisting of either a 5 year bachelors or 6 year masters degree. That is followed by 3 years of internship and then several days of exams in all the fields. So he or she is in a unique position to give advice and consultation in a variety of areas. This is what distinguishes the architect from for example the contractor-builder, building designer, the engineer or the interior designer, all of whom are focused on their more specific areas of expertise. In fact in the management of the overall project the architect will call upon the expertise of others as soon as he realizes the need for them. And it is his overall view that allows him to know when that need arises.

So no matter the size of the project the architect is able to see the overall picture. The well educated and experienced architect will consider all the pieces of the building puzzle from the flow and relationships of spaces to the soundness of the structure and the environmental impact of the construction process and finished building.
This overall view can make a huge difference in the functionality, cost and lifespan of any project from the small remodel to the skyscraper.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

We can help you wherever you are

Working with a non local architect

The idea of offering a service to people who need architectural services for small projects but are not in our local area occurred to me some time ago. We were helping my partner’s brother with a room addition and remodel for a home he just purchased. The home is on the East coast of Canada and we were in Southern California at the time. The project worked out so well that decided it must be a good service to offer to others.

Here’s how it worked. The client, in this case a family member, took pictures of his house. He made a rough sketch with dimensions that he took himself. Then he told us what he wanted to add to the house, the problems with the house as it existed and some ideas he had for changes. Now, my partner and I have a combined experience working with clients in all areas of housing of close to 50 years, so it’s very easy for us to understand the needs of a client. It’s also easy to determine how to solve problems, revise the plan of a home and make additions. So in this case we quickly made two or three sketches of possible plans and a list of ideas. These were emailed to the client. He then sent back to us his own ideas and some preliminary decisions about which of our ideas he liked the best. From this we were able to make a semi final plan sketch. This again was emailed to the client, then sent back his final comments. From these revised sketches we prepared a simple set of construction drawings. The drawings were sent back to the client who toke the to a few local contractors to get preliminary bids. At the same time he was able to find a local structural engineer to finalize the drawings for local codes and get a building permit.

You might be asking yourself what is the advantages in doing a project this way. There are many. In this case of course working with a close relative lent a large amount of confidence to the client in knowing that the project would be done well. But for all clients, the ability to hire an architect with a large amount of experience and a good reputation can be very costly and time consuming. By working over the internet and minimizing the time we have to spend on a project our fees can be minimized while the client at the same time has the advantage of the services of a highly qualified professional. Once the design is finalized the client can use the services of less qualified and therefore less expensive locals to finish the job and get the required permits. In fact many times one can go directly to the contractor/builder with a finalized design and he can take it from there.

There are other alternatives as well. For example one may have some ideas or a sketch of what one wants to add to ones home. An experienced architect can take that sketch and in a short time revise it and or point out the problems with it. This could be a tremendous time savings and a potential prevention of future problems. Using the internet we can also provide that service in an economical way. For a fixed fee or hourly charges we can take the plan ideas of the client improve them, or determine that they are fine as is giving the client confidence to proceed and take the sketches to a local drafting service for final drawings.

The truth of the matter is the legally in most areas plans for room additions and even whole houses do not have to be prepared by a licensed architect. There are many drafting services offering this service and much lower fees than the architect can charge. But going directly to these services is dangerous as far as the final result of the design is concerned. There is much that goes into the design of a home that can only be done properly by a true professional. So in most cases the design of a complete new home should be done by an experienced and licensed architect. But what about the room addition or remodel? In many if not most cases the architects with the proper amount of experience are too busy for such little projects or too expensive. That’s were we think this service of helping the client with their small projects over the internet and getting their ideas into a format that can then be taken on by a local drafting service or engineer comes in.