Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can we learn more about Cole Design Studio, Inc. before committing ourselves to a contract?
A: All prospective clients are encouraged to set up a free consultation. We would be more then happy to answer any questions you have and to provide you with further information about CDS. We can show you past projects and talk to you about what to expect during the Design/Build process.
Q: What should I bring or how should I prepare for my initial consultation?
A: Please come prepared to discuss your budget goals, needs and site requirements. Gather design ideas from home design magazines and other sources. Have a written list of rooms, function of each space and what it should be near. All of these will be essential in determining what kind of project is structurally and financially feasible.
Q: Why should we hire CDS and what is the difference between an Architect and Professional Building Designer?

A: Architects and Professional Building Designers, most people do not even know the difference between the two. Architects are licensed by the state to practice architecture. Although some specialize in residential design, most specialize in larger projects including multi-residential and commercial buildings. Building Designers are not licensed by the state and work under exemptions under their state. In South Carolina a building designer can do any residential design and commercial design under 5000 SF that is not rated as an assembly. Like any profession, there are ethical and intelligent architects and building designers. It is important in deciding who you will hire to interview all candidates for the job. Ask of their experience, to see examples of their work, references, and any professional affiliation they may have. Paul Cole is a Certified Professional Building Designer (CPBD) and a professional member of The American Institute of Building Design (AIBD). We are required to have continuing education units (CEU’s) on a yearly basis.

We have been in business for 24 years and will provide you with any references you wish to see.

Q: Who does the engineering?
A: As building designers we are not licensed to do structural design for a project. On the client’s behalf, we consult with a professional engineer for these services. We coordinate their work with ours to come up with a structural solution that does not compromise the functional or aesthetic characteristics of the design. These fees are paid by the client as a reimbursable expense.
Q: How does CDS work with a builder/general contractor?
A: As the design professional on a project, we may assist the home owner w/ the selection of a contractor, administering the bidding process and w/ job observation on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to verify compliance w/ the working drawings. We believe the bidding & construction observation and administrative services should be optional to the client. We have a close working relationship w/ several of the best builders in the Low Country area that will help turn your dreams into reality.
Q: What is a Certified Professional Building Designer?

A: A building designer is first and foremost a professional familiar with all facets of the building trade, whose plans and designs represent the particular needs, style and budget of the client. Our approach to any problem is based on practical, functional and economical solutions that will best fulfill the client’s requirements, while translating these factors into a concept that is both aesthetic and utilitarian.

A Certified Professional Building Designer (CPBD) has proven their proficiency by passing a 13 section, 2-day exam given by the National Council of Building Design Certification. You can learn more by visiting ncbdc.org .

Q: What is the AIBD?
A: The American Institute of Building Designers (AIBD) is a nationally recognized association with design associate and affiliate members in 47 states, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia. Since 1950, The AIBD has provided its members with educational resources and developed nationwide design standards for the residential building design profession. Its chartered societies are active in their respective legislative arenas and work to promote public awareness of the building design profession and emphasize the role we fill as a valuable resource for residential design services. I am lucky to have served as the AIBD Past South Carolina President and presently as the AIBD Eastern District Director.
Q: How do you charge for your services?
A: We use a flat fixed fee contract for most of our residential projects. All projects are evaluated for scope of work, time frame and design complexity when determining design and documentation fees. Custom homes are priced on a per square foot basis while remodeling/addition projects are assigned a fixed fee based on an hourly estimate of the project including meeting time.