We’d like you to know as much about us as
possible. Below are some of our most frequently
asked questions.


 If you have a question that you don’t see below, please feel free to contact us.

Do I need an Architect?

The planning that happens before construction begins is as important as the actual construction. Any building project will have a variety of conditions, goals, and official requirements that need to be met. An architect is trained to identify and integrate these elements, defining both opportunities and limitations, and providing guidance and creative solutions to the parameters that exist. For more information, see “Why Hire An Architect,” excerpted from the American Institute of Architects.

What services does Wagner Zaun provide?

We offer a full range of professional services for both commercial and residential projects, ranging from limited consulting to comprehensive work that takes a project from feasibility and initial conception to completion. We coordinate and manage the people involved in a given project, which may include engineers, interior designers, landscape professionals, and – of course – the client. We do much more than “draw blueprints.” We define the client’s goals, identify the land use requirements, explore and convey ideas, and deliver a comprehensive set of building documents that address the aesthetics, function, durability and operation of the space.

At what point in my project should I involve your firm?

Ideally, we are engaged as soon as you decide you are ready to explore the idea of building. Usually, the earlier we become involved, the more successful the outcome is for the client. We can provide early guidance in what, where, how and how much that you might not have considered, such as whether or not a location or building is suitable for your goals.

Won't using an Architect just add cost to the project?

While it is true that the architects’ fees are an additional cost to your project, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire project will cost you more in the end. In fact, the value we bring to a project can save you money in many ways. For instance: we can help you to create a smaller building, by virtue of better design and our expertise at good space planning. When we design a solar-optimized, energy efficient building, your operating costs will be lower, saving you money every year that you live (or work) in the building. Also, when we take the time to fully develop and integrate architectural and mechanical details ahead of time, you can save money by avoiding changes in the field during construction.

How do you charge for your services?

We typically begin working with a client using an hourly fee structure (with a budget), during the Pre-Design and Schematic Design phases. Once a schematic design has been approved, we often negotiate a fixed fee contract for the phases of design development and construction drawings and specifications, bidding/negotiating and construction administration.

We also offer professional consulting for both residential and commercial projects, and we typically charge hourly for this type of service.

What's my role in the design process?

You have an integral role throughout the process. Ultimately, this is about you. We ask you to engage with us, from beginning to end: sharing ideas, feedback and communicating what matters most to you: in the areas of aesthetics, function, budget, and more. We guide discussion, take notes, let you know “what we hear” and we ask you to confirm that we are on the right path.

Your role is also to ask us questions, raise concerns, and make decisions. You’ll have hundreds of decisions to make – whether it is about approving the overall style of the design or the selection of a kitchen faucet. The quantity of decisions you’ll make can feel daunting, but we keep track of the process and help guide what needs to happen and when. We allow you to focus on what matters most to you, with the assurance that we are managing the rest.

What are the benefits of working with Wagner Zaun (as opposed to working only with a builder or purchasing house plans)?

We design specifically to your lifestyle, your site, and your priorities. Our approach can not only bring you the benefits of good design, but can also save you time and energy – we do this every day, and we are excellent guides to a process that might otherwise seem overwhelming to you.

We also think of many things that you or a builder might not: like how the sun will interact with the design in ways that will bring delight instead of glare and overheating, how to increase energy efficiency in a cost-effective way, where to place windows to capture the best views and offer cross ventilation.

We have training, experience and passion for crafting design solutions that weave beauty, function, and durability. We are both generalists and specialists, in that we “see the big picture” but also define the details necessary to realize the big picture.

We'd like to learn more about your company and your process, how do we proceed?

In our firm, we suggest several steps of “introduction” to explore whether or not we are a good fit for your project. First, we’d like to talk with you on the phone to learn more about you, your site, your goals, and your timeline; and to answer questions you might have about our firm.

The next step is to schedule an initial meeting in person. At this meeting we discuss your goals and requirements in more detail, and learn more about your project site and timeline. We also share our approach and process for working with you. There is no charge for these initial discussions and meeting.

After this meeting, we’ll have enough information to prepare a detailed proposal for design services and a contract. If you accept, we sign the contract and set the schedule to begin work.