Frequently Asked Questions
Have a question? We’ve probably been asked that before…
Below are some of the common questions we receive. Our hope is that these responses may help guide you as you approach or progress through your project. Still have questions or prefer to schedule a consultation about your specific project? Please contact us.
How do I get started with a project?
Start by contacting us. We will have an initial discussion to help us understand the scope of your project and your goals for what we can create together. Once we have a sense of what the project entails and our involvement in it, we will propose an agreement for our services, which in many cases will be outlined in a written proposal. You will not be charged for this initial discussion, and we will not bill you for our services until we have established a scope of services and a fee structure that you accept.
Once I hire you, what are the first steps in designing my project?
In many cases, the first step is a visit to discuss your project, and gather information related to the project scope, technical requirements, budget, and schedule. This “pre- design” phase of the project usually culminates in an architectural program (sometimes known as the project brief) that outlines the spaces that will be built and describes their intended use, size, acoustical criteria, and the general acoustical, technical, and functional requirements that affect their architectural design. It may be best for the project to have an agreement that covers only this first phase of the work, so that once the project scope, budget, and schedule are established, we can more accurately propose a scope of services and fee structure for the remainder of the project.
What is the fee for your service?
We prefer to establish a fixed fee agreement for our design work, so that both you and we are focused on the result rather than the time it takes to reach it. In some cases, it is beneficial to have one agreement for the programming (“pre-design”) phase, and a second agreement for the remainder of the design phases once our scope of services is better defined.
Many times, we will propose that our fees during the construction phase of the project be handled on an hourly (or “time and materials”) basis. In this way, you are only charged for the time we actually spend, which can be an advantage for both parties given the uncertainty of how many questions the contractors will have and what situations they might encounter in the field.
How quickly can you start work on my project?
In most cases, we are available immediately, depending upon the urgency of your project and our team’s current workload.
I just need someone to review what I plan to do, perform a quick room analysis, or answer a few specific questions. Can you do that?
We can do that, but it depends on the project and what work has already been done. And it is essential that we understand the overall scope of the project (“the big picture”) and how any specific questions figure into achieving your goals for function and performance. Having us answering individual questions out of context might lead you astray, and we want to make sure our input is helpful.
We are sometimes asked to provide a peer review of another designer’s work. We are happy to do so, but only if the other firm is made aware of the situation.
What are the project deliverables?
This depends on our role in the project: sometimes all that’s required is a simple report, and sometimes we generate complete construction drawings and specifications. Our work is custom, so there is no one-size-fits-all package.
Do you perform consultation via the phone or email, or do you travel to the project site, or do I travel to your offices?
All of the above, perhaps. The best scenario is having us visit the project site to better understanding the challenges and opportunities it presents. And sometimes a face-to-face meeting (whether at your place or ours) is the only way for us to truly grasp the project scope and your expectations. On the other hand, we are adept at using email, telephone conversations, and teleconferencing as tools of effective communication. We are cognizant of controlling costs and will use the best combination of communication methods to help ensure a successful project.
How can a consultant in Texas effectively design a project somewhere else?
Our work has always been spread across the entire country (and occasionally internationally); in fact, projects in the DFW area – or even in Texas – represent only a fraction of what we do. We have learned how to effectively communicate across long distances, and to monitor the progress of construction using email, photographs, and video calls. Of course, sometimes there’s no substitute for a face-to-face meeting or a visit to the construction site. We know when those trips will be the most productive, and our central location in a major transportation hub makes for easy connections via air or highway.
How much will a project like this cost?
Of course, it depends. It’s important to work out estimated construction costs in the initial phase of a project, and evaluate the design against that budget throughout the process.
Generally speaking, if you have an idea of “standard” construction costs in your area expressed in $/sq.ft. (for example, basic office finish-out for a commercial space, or the overall average for a residence), the corresponding $/sq.ft. costs for technical spaces will usually be several times that amount.
When should we get an acoustical consultant involved in the design process?
Now, if not earlier (just kidding). It’s a misconception to think that acoustical design can effectively be added on once the project design has gotten a ways down the road. Our involvement at the time the project scope is defined can give you greater certainty that the spaces are the right size for the kinds of things you want to do, and that you haven’t overlooked essential functions or missed opportunities to make the spaces more efficient. Having us evaluate possible sites, whether as land for new construction or an existing building, can save you the heartache of discovering problems after a property is purchased.
Does RBDG provide construction for my project?
No, we are a design firm. If you need recommendations for contractors who can build your facility, or if you’d like us to assist in vetting bidders or candidates for a negotiated contract, we’d be happy to help.
Does RBDG provide the electronic equipment and wire it?
Not as work that we perform ourselves. We provide design for the built environment. Many times our clients know the equipment and systems they expect to install, or they have an integrator or installer they already work with. If you need recommendations for someone to help with that portion of the project, or if you’d like us to hire a sub- consultant to provide those services under our agreement with you, we’d be happy to discuss it with you.
If I already have an architect, how do you work with them?
We are used to working with other design professionals, frequently in teams that involve several firms spread out in multiple locations. Very often, for example, a project will have a local firm to provide architect of record services, and we provide design for the technical spaces as a subset of their documents. We try to establish a scope of services that dovetails neatly with the scope that the architect provides, adjusting our involvement to match what’s best for you and the project in terms of efficiency, accuracy, cost, and schedule.
Is it okay for my contractor to call you with questions during the build out of my studio?
We encourage it. Making sure we’re all on the same page before something is built can help us avoid much bigger problems later on.
What things should I be looking for in a building?
That’s one of the things we can help you with in the early phases of a project. The type of building construction, the use of upper floors vs construction on grade, the available ceiling height, and the existing infrastructure for mechanical and electrical systems can all have a significant impact on the project cost. Finding a building that is a good fit for the project is key to its success.
Will you execute a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)?
If you would like. While we always exercise great care to safeguard the business and intellectual property of all our clients, some choose to implement a mutual non-disclosure agreement (NDA) between our companies.
I see a lot of recent advertisements for very thin acoustic treatments that claim amazing results with very little coverage. Have the laws of physics changed?