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Designing Your Own Home: An Interview with Rick Giroux of Jensen Design & Survey Inc.

By Rick Giroux

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Jensen design and survey is a civil engineering, survey and land planning company and is currently celebrating its 25th year in business. We have one office located in Ventura, CA. Projects range from single family homes to hospitals, colleges, court rooms, commercial buildings, churches, and public works.

Typically, what is the architect's/contractor's involvement with the home-design process?

Our involvement is to take an architect's site plan and assign elevations to it to make it function with the surroundings. We also address increase in storm water runoff, water quality. We interact with the contractors' during construction.

How is an architect or contractor paid? Up-front fee, percentage of home cost, etc.?

Services are billed monthly. Two types of projects: fixed fee (billed on percentage complete); time and materials (billed on hours expended times the billing rates).

What legal facets should someone who seeks an architect's service (design professionals, in general) be aware of, if any?

Design contract language should be reviewed to protect the owner and the consultant. Provisions for standing behind your design services should be included in any contract. Both the AIA and the Civil Engineer groups have standard contract language that can be included, spelling out duties required of both parties and assurances that the owner gets his project successfully completed.

Can you briefly walk us through the design process

Taking a site plan from owner/architect we attempt to fit it in with its surroundings. Utility service to the property is critical for gravity utilities (sewer and drainage). Siting of the structures per local codes are reviewed (setbacks from streets and property lines).

If you could give any outstanding advice for a homeowner who is employing an architect for the first time, what would it be?

Talk to more than one. ask for references and contact them to see if there are any issues.

What is the best way for people to reach you and or your company?

We have a web site at Our phone number is 805-654-6977.

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About The Author

Rick Giroux is an Engineering Manager at Jensen Design & Survey Inc.

Phone: 805-654-6977

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