Architectural Feasibility Study

Architectural Feasibility Study

Feasibility Study

An architectural feasibility study considers all of the aspects of your proposed project. … Through an architectural feasibility study our clients can test the viability of the project before undertaking any real significant expense. The study attempts to answer the big questions early in the decision making process.


Three Reasons Behind a Feasibility Study

There is many reasons why feasibility study is needed. 
  1. The main reason is to find out what is possible and what is prohibitive. New buildings, commercial building changing its use, commercial building renovations, two to three story house conversion, additions, in-law apartment additions, second story additions.
  2. Second reason is to find out if your space/house/business is suitable for the programmed areas you are trying to put in.
  3. And finally the third reason is to find out if you need to contract with an architect to present in front of the boards.


Below is the list and the explanation of regulations and what they mean


Zoning Board Of Appeals

Since each town or city has local codes called Zoning Ordinance, buildings old or new must comply with them. If the existing and new part of a building or site is conforming with the local code requirements, the project can be designed and approved quickly.
Unfortunately many buildings in the state of Massachusetts are non-conforming with the new codes or IBC codes and any changes to them entail Zoning Board of Appeals Approval. The process is quite extensive and requires more architect’s time and meetings with building officials.  Many times owners are represented by a zoning attorney, architects and civil engineers. Other projects require Special Permit Application and Planning Board Approval.

Planning Board of Appeals

If obtaining a special permit is mandatory, projects must be represented in front of a Planning Board. Planning Boards consist of appointed members having experience in architecture, engineering, law or others. They have the right to approve or reject the project. Both of the Boards are organized by the city or town and are open to the public. During the meetings, neighbors  (by notice) and other people interested in the project have the right to object or agree with the project. If you think your project requires this type of approval, call us (contact us) and we will explain the process in more detail based on our experience with the jurisdiction. 

Other types of boards are: Historic Board, Design Review Board, Redevelopment Authority. 

Historic Board

If the project is within a historic district or it is marked as a historic landmark it must be reviewed by the board. Each Town or a city has guidelines and different kinds of boards are formed to help with the design of historic buildings and even landscapes. The feasibility study report lists the boards, codes and describes the design process. Each board has special formats and requirements for the submission. If you are still reading this, please go onto the next section about other aspects important to the design process.

Conservation Land

Many buildings are built near wetlands. Wetlands are considered to be a protected land. Each Town has a special department that approves projects near conservation land. The reason for the department is to make sure new buildings are not built in a conservation zone buffer which protect our environment and preserves existing species. There is a difference between conservation land and Flood Zone. Some Flood zones are in conservation. Not all conservation land is in a flood zone. 

Flood Zone – FEMA requlations

When you think a property is in a flood zone, it must me near an ocean or lake or river, but it is not true. To find out if your building is in flood zone go to to find out. Most people know if their property is located in the flood zone as they pay flood insurance. If you are inquiring about new land, the information is usually listed on MLS listing sheet. Another piece of information that is located on a listing sheet is the data about your water and sever connections. That same information can be found in the assessor’s office in your town or city.

Septic System Regulations

Assessor’s office has most of the information you need if you know how to look for it. It is public information and together with gis maps is available to anyone. The property card shows if the building is connected to the city water and sever or it has its own septic system and a well. The reason we look for this information is to find out what you can or cannot do on your property. 


You must be very exhausted by reading this information which is only a nibble of the knowledge we possess to be able to design and build buildings. It took us many many years to learn codes and regulations and we are constantly learning as the codes are updated every few years. Finding out all this information takes hours for us, which in most cases would take you days if you are not familiar with them and their location and want to do it by yourself. Even using this guideline you will soon find out you may need help. If you do feel this way call us or email us. We can do it for you. Happy Searching. 
Consultations vs Interview

Consultations vs Interview

Very often we hear the question why do you charge for consultations? We had decided to write this article to answer many important questions that our potential clients may have. We also would like to explain the value behind paid consultations as well as the differences between a consultation versus an interview. It is very common to ask the question: what if I would like to get to know the firm? How do I know this is the right fit?
This is the major reason for writing this article. We would like to explain the difference between consultation and an interview.
It is quite easy actually. Consultation is on site and we answer all possible questions that arrive at us the best we can. The interview is performed at our office during which we find out from the client about the project and show you what we offer and how things are done. Interviews are free (of course)



What is an Interview?

What happens to these people that do not feel comfortable hiring someone without an interview?
This has been a very common question we answer every day.
The difference between an interview and a consultation is – the location and the content of the conversation
We invite our potential clients for interviews to our comfortable conference room with a large TV screen.


Online Interview

In some cases people are too far away to be able to travel or their preference is to have a conference call. We can send you a calendar invite that has google hangouts call number.
During an online meeting we are able to share the screen and show you examples of work or anything that we are discussing.

What is a Consultation?

We were often called out to perform a walk through’s  before people make the purchase or have their closing. This type of a walk through is not performed as “an inspection” of the house.  This type of a walk-though is a paid consultation with us for three major reasons:
        1. to find out to find out what is possible and what is prohibitive – see feasibility study
a) if the addition or renovation is possible (existing house)
b) if a new lot is buildable and what you can or cannot do
        2. to find out the approximate amount needed to budget (please note this is not a detailed line-by line estimate)
        3. to get to know what we are like, what is our approach and if we are the right fit for you
Some firms would offer free consultations and very often even throw in a free estimate. We believe this system does not work for two reasons:
1. The estimate is usually much lower than the real project cost
2.The firm invested half a day of work and will never get paid unless he/she is awarded the project. On average the visits convert to 10 visits to 1 gained client

Consultation vs House Inspection

What is the difference between a consultation and an inspection?
Consultations are performed for different reasons than the house inspections. There is two types of house inspectors that can be easily confused. One is a building official that comes to your house when a contractor finishes certain phase of a project. He resides at a building department of a town or a city. A building inspector of this type approves drawings from architects and issues permits for you to be able to start a project.
Another types of a house inspector is someone that is licensed to perform home inspection. This type of home inspector walks through your house before you buy it to determine if the building is safe to live in.


If you feel comfortable with us we write a proposal for the services and wait for your reply. Design proposal takes from 1 hour to two days to write. There is no charge to the receipt of the proposal – all we ask is for you to hit REPLY. We follow up if you forget about us. Please do not let us wait for long- your truthful answer is highly appreciated.
The proposal outlines a scope of work, the cost of the project and some legal language explaining responsibilities, liabilities and reimbursable expenses.

Schedule your interview


Schedule your in site 1 hour consultation

We hope to see you soon!
Pionarch Team