REAL ESTATE - INTERVIEW
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Arthur DePaolo, Architectural Designer
REAL ESTATE - INTERVIEW
by Meryem Aksoy
The location and design of the house you live in is one of the main factors of happiness in your daily life. If you are lucky enough to build your own home, it is very important to make all the decisions in this process together with a professional and to take advantage of his or her experience. Architectural designers who will listen to your wishes, interpret them, and then design the house in your dreams, focus on developing the house that is best for you. They offer the most suitable project considering your wishes and the characteristics of the region where the house will be built. Since the founding of First Coast Drafting & Design, Arthur DePaolo has been designing custom homes for its clients. I talked with Architectural Designer Arthur DePaolo, Founder of First Coast Drafting & Design, about his career and the basics of the custom residential design process.
Arthur, before talking about First Coast Drafting and Design, I would like to learn more about you. Could you tell us about yourself? Who is Arthur DePaolo?
I am 41 years old, a husband and father to 3 crazy boys (3, 4, and 8). I love to surf and fish during my free time. One of my recent obsessions though has been riding my "Onewheel" electric skateboard. It's so much different from any type of skateboard I've ever ridden, and it's a lot of fun to ride.
After graduating from college, I gained real-world experience and knowledge through some of the best Engineering and Architectural firms in Gainesville and Jacksonville, Florida. I had the privilege to work with some very talented designers in various disciplines of drafting and design. Ultimately I realized how much I loved "architectural" design, but I also care about people and how they actually live in their homes. Being a husband and father to those 3 little boys has taught me how important that can be. Honesty, integrity, and trust are not only the foundation that I've built my business on, but they are also the basic principles that I value very much in my own life. This combination drives me to always provide the best product I possibly can through a quality set of plans at a fair price.
Arthur DePaolo and his family
How did your interest in buildings begin? What inspired you to pursue a career as an architectural designer?
My interest in design and building really started at a young age. Like a lot of kids, I really liked legos, but I didn't always stick to the planned design. I would use different pieces to build different types of vehicles and even houses for little figures. That really taught me to figure out a way to make what I wanted only using what I had at the time. It's funny, but I believe that really helped me develop a skill for problem solving as an adult too. I've always loved "design" in many forms, sometimes it's the lines of a car or the design of a house, other times it's a simple solution to storage or function. However, I soon realized how much I enjoyed architecture in particular. I felt like it was a way to pursue a career in something that still fed my need to be creative while also being part of something that is such a big part of people's lives. I'm only one small part of a team effort really, and not all projects are a person's dream home, but I enjoy being part of something that someone will call their "home."
Design : Collaboration-First Coast Drafting & Design / JA Long
How did you decide to establish your own firm?
For as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to have my own business. It just wasn't in the cards for a while. However, all of the time I spent with other firms was preparing me to do this on my own. Even now, I'm always learning something new and learning from my mistakes. I was working for a large home builder when I finally had the opportunity and decided to start my own drafting and design business. I saw the need and asked if they would consider having me continue to work on their plans but through my own business. There were some benefits to that for them as well, but I still knew it was a risk even to ask. Luckily they were on board with the plan, and they honestly helped keep me afloat during that first year. I actually owe them alot. I may have never started my own business if it wasn't for that opportunity.
Project Coleman - Designed by Arthur DePaolo
Could you tell us about First Coast Drafting and Design and your team?
First Coast Drafting and Design is an architectural design firm that specializes in the development of residential house plans, because we know that "every dream home starts with a plan." Our goal is to always exceed expectations by truly understanding our clients' visions and needs. We listen, then we translate what we hear into a design that works for the client on every level... functionally, aesthetically, and financially...bringing our clients one step closer to their dream home. We have had the privilege of working with individual clients as well as some of the best local builders in Jacksonville, Florida. This real-world experience gives us the knowledge and ability to provide the best service to our clients. We also try to provide a faster turn-around time than larger firms while still providing a high quality of work. We value all of our clients and understand that a home is much more than just a place to live.
What type of projects does First Coast Drafting and Design specialize in?
What kind of services do you offer your clients?
Custom house plan development, renovations and additions, builder collaborations, and as-built plans.
Designed by Arthur DePaolo
How could you define your design approach?
If a client knows what they want, I try to really listen to their ideas. If a client doesn't know exactly what they want, I still listen to their ideas, but I also try to point them in the direction that believe most resembles their thoughts, comments, and lifestyle. In either case, once we have a direction, I can translate that into a set of plans that meets their needs, wants, and budget.
What are the primary roles of the architectural designer in the whole project? What is your role in construction? How do you manage these processes?
Our role in the project is first to put together a set of plans that any client can use to get a better idea of how much their project is going to cost. At that point, we can scale the project back or add to it. Once the client is happy with the design, it goes into the working drawings development phase. The completed set then goes to the engineers, truss designers, etc...as needed. First Coast Drafting & Design does not manage the project outside of the architectural drawings themselves, but we are always more than happy to help the client at any time along the way if needed.
Designed by Arthur DePaolo
What are the most important factors that affect project cost?
For plan development and what we do at First Coast Drafting & Design, the most important factor that affects the cost is probably trying to be as close to 100% sure of the design prior to proceeding with working/construction drawings. We offer a few hours or free revision time during the preliminary design phases, but any changes made after we start working drawings does get charged an additional fee. This is because any changes made at this point can have an effect on many different pages/plans. Therefore, it's more difficult and takes a lot longer to make changes at that point.
What is your first question in your first meeting with a new client?
My first question is always "how are you doing today," but in regards to the project...I just let them start talking about it and go from there.
How can our readers follow First Coast Drafting and Design?
Facebook @FCDandD and Houzz page
What is coming up next for you?
I plan to incorporate color 2D and 3D renderings into my services offered.
Thank you Arthur for your time.