Blog Posts

Barry Shaw
April 10, 2020

Capstone Mentor Program

Our dedication to soon-to-be high school grads whom are interested in pursuing education and a career in the Architecture business, continues.

We were asked by a student at a local high school in Broomfield, Colorado to provide a (1) year Capstone Mentorship, as part of his graduation requirements.

After an hour discussion on goals, commitments and preferred interest (i.e. design, construction, residential, commercial, etc.) in the profession, we agreed to provide a mentorship service per general guidelines from the school.

After close scrutiny of the school’s requirements, we came up with a pretty detailed Syllabus that broke down the schools tasks into a timeline, with activities interrelated to attainable milestones. As well, I had him keep a Journal of all the activities that were experienced.

The initial ‘meetings’ between myself and the Mentee, was planned to provide him with an overview of the various ‘segments’ of the design and construction industry and how they operate independently yet cohesively together.

Additionally I had him ponder, what is the value of architecture and how does it play a role in just about everyone’s life, now and into the future?; educational and licensing requirements; what are the major components of a building that you don’t see and what are their functions?; the purpose of a Building Department and where the Architects work culminates and when the General Contractor initiates his service; various types of communication skills Architects use and when; sustainable design; etc.

Assignments and events from the Syllabus included reading articles/books about architecture; sketching techniques; visiting an Architects office; on-site tour of a commercial project under construction in downtown Denver; photographic documentation and summary of building types under construction he saw while on vacation; tour of the local lumberyard and explanations of various types of lumber, hardware and tools; reading a set of plans; etc.

After about nine months of above and many more meetings that uncovered the voluminous aspects of ‘the business’, it was then time for him to put all of this together on a 20”x30” poster board, for presentation. Now we got to be a little creative with expressing his new knowledge of the architecture profession and his experiences during the mentorship, by designing the board with his story of what he learned and hopefully fine tune what aspect of his college major he would like to, at least initially, focus on.

It all came together beautifully with him submitting the board to his Counselor, whom graded it 100% complete.

It was again quite fulfilling for me to provide (35) years of experience in the design and construction industry to someone who could likely be designing, our built future.

Best Always,

Barry R. Shaw AIA, GC

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Categories: Community Service
Barry Shaw
March 21, 2018
Pop-Top Home

Denver New Home vs. Pop-Top: What Is The Difference In Construction Costs?

As a follow up to previous Blog re: this topic, below is a re-cap overview of our line item construction cost analysis requested of our Consulting services:

New home ‘overall requirements’ are different and more extensive, than when we ‘add on’ to the existing structure and therefore an increase in price.

Some of the additional items required involve significant site work, especially if there is a slope involved.

For instance, typically multiple retaining walls will be required to shore up aspects of the site, for the planned footprint of the new home/detached buildings/driveway/stairs/recreation areas etc. to be accommodated for at the proper elevations.

Also additional drainage work, above and below grade, will be required throughout the site. This would involve concrete culverts, underground drain pipes, terraced grades and usually retention ponds/storm water planters.

Around the lower part of the home, waterproofing the exterior walls from the bottom of the footings to above finish grade level, will be needed.

Regarding the building/structure itself, new two story concrete and rebar footings will be required, after excavating work; in lieu of using existing footings and typically adding some ‘pads’ for posts to bear on.

As well, new first floor/second floor/roof framing with up to date structural connections will be required by code.

Adjunct new materials (i.e. windows, doors, drywall, flooring, plumbing and electrical fixtures, tile work, paint, etc.) and equipment (i.e. hvac units/ducting, water heaters, kitchen appliances, etc.) and low voltage wiring, cabinetry, fire sprinkler system, closet work, etc., needs to be factored into this budget.

And all of the above is after demolition of the old existing home and other structures are taken off the site ($60,000+), if we’re not starting with raw land.

All in all, it will cost 50% or more to build your new home; but it will be exactly the way you want it to be and virtually maintenance-free with the latest technology implemented into the materials, systems and equipment.

For other Consulting services, including comprehensive line-item values, please send us an email with your inquiry.

Best Regards Always!

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Barry Shaw
March 7, 2018
Pop-Top Home

Denver New Home vs. Pop-Top: What Is The Difference In Architectural Fees?

We were recently contacted from a homeowner regarding our Consulting services, regarding a comparative cost analysis of Architectural services, for a new ground up home or adding a pop-top.

Below is a re-cap overview of the line item analysis:

The overall time needed for a complete set of architectural plans to be prepared for submittal to City agencies, is obviously somewhat more for a new home, but the driving factor regarding the cost increase, comes from the engineering required.

Additional structural engineering for foundations and framing; civil engineering required for site work/drainage/retaining walls, energy engineering analysis and new hvac, electrical, plumbing systems and equipment needs, all require extra time. Additionally, these details and specifications need to be coordinated with the architectural plans, in the proper places.

The above work is typically performed by our CAD drafters, with pertinent decision making and direction, coordinated by myself as the Architect for the project.

So in general, the Architect and engineering fee will be approximately 25%-35% more. As well, the construction cost ‘differential’ must also be factored into the overall budget, to obtain the total out-of-pocket expenditure for design and construction of a new home.

For other Consulting services, including comprehensive line-item construction cost analysis, send us an email with your inquiry.

Best Regards Always!

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Barry Shaw
February 21, 2018
LVL vs Steel

Owner’s Advocate – A Resource For Savings

A friend of mine took his car into the shop for work that he knew needed to be performed and was also advised that a ‘check-up’ should be done regarding other parts of the vehicle; he said ok.

A couple days later, a very large estimate was given to him with the explanation that his car needed additional work done and that there was only one way to accomplish this; or was there?

Similar situations can and do occur, in the construction industry with hundreds of options and decisions needed throughout the project.

An Owner’s Advocate, independent Architect, and/or General Contractor who’s fiduciary is directly to the Owner and independent from the Owner’s hired Architect and General Contractor, can provide the Owner with a separate pair of eyes, experience, and options that could benefit the Owner immensely.

For instance, lets say that during the architectural design phase of a new building project, that the engineer designs a structure with steel beams and posts, to achieve an open floor plan effect.

Well, the Owner is not likely experienced to know there is an alterntive to the steel framing. Glue laminate wood beams for instance, will save a significant amount of money and time and still accomplish the clear span request.

The steel structure will require certified welders, cranes to erect and set in place, an additional/different subcontractor and material supplier from the framer, and will require additional carpentry work when integrating with the standard wood framing members.

If the Owner had an independent Advocate/Consultant that provided a well seasoned amount of design and construction experience, he would be advised to explore the above suggested alternative, with the following benefits:

In an average size new two story home project, that we actually just completed, the cost saving differential, from not using steel, would be about: $4,500 in material + $3,000 in initial labor installation + about $2,500 in framing detailing + $1,250 in welder services + $2,500 in crane and erection + about $1,250 in special inspector services, or an additional $15,000!, just in this trade alone (imagine the additional savings available for the other 20 trades in the project!).

Actually not much different either from having an ‘insurance advocate’ on your side, independent of your insurance company and looking out for your best interest exclusively.

If you would like to explore this and other options available for your project, please send us an Inquiry and we’ll get back with you within (24) hours.


Best Always!
Barry R. Shaw AIA, GC

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Barry Shaw
January 24, 2018

Owner Benefits From Paintless Building, with Choice of Colors

The exterior of a building can be clad in a multitude of finishes, of which stucco or plaster, has been a choice for many owners, either in whole or part.

Plaster provides a smooth finish, that is reflective of many Modern style homes, while stucco is typically the choice for a Contemporary style home. We have designed both, in Denver, Pacific Palisades, Kailua-Kona, Austin and many other cities with varied architectural designs, climatic conditions and budget considerations.

Plaster is about three times as expensive as stucco, because of additional labor required and material costs as well. Stucco therefore becomes more cost effective and can also come ‘close’ to a plaster finish, depending on the proportion/type of sand that is specified into the mix.

Another valuable ingredient to either a plaster or stucco mix, is an option for color. There are many different manufacturers that offer an array of different color add mixtures, that can compliment the architectural design and other exterior finish materials of the building.

These color packets are typically designed as a 1-4 bag additive to the cement mix. The more packets added, the more ‘rich’ or prominent, the color of the building becomes.

Since the color is now added to the final coat of the plaster or stucco finish, there is no need to paint the building; it already has the color selected for the end result design, a paintless building.

Thus, literally tens of thousands of dollars is saved from having to paint the exterior walls of a building, not only initially but virtually forever! Additional extraneous cost savings include: no painters scaffolding needed during construction, no disruption of landscape that needs to be replaced from ladders and men working to repaint the building every five years or so and no payment for price increases to perform painting maintenance work, for decades to come.
The subject matter of this article was actually a small part of a ‘whole-house’ analysis performed by us, as Consultants to client’s whom were in the design phase with their architects and requested our On-Call Consulting work.

The scope of this work included a thorough analysis of their architectural plans, before submittal to the building department, in terms of suggested cost savings. In this case, the client saved $50,000-$100,000 that was slated to be paid for, during construction.

For more information on how our Consulting Services can benefit you and your project, please tell us about your needs and let us know what type of project you are working on: Online Consulting

Design, Construction and Consulting Services are available for Light Commercial and Residential Projects, throughout the U.S.


Best Regards Always!

Barry R. Shaw, AIA, GC
BSA Inc Design & Construction
Architects & General Contractors

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Categories: General
Barry Shaw
September 28, 2017

BSA Inc Design & Construction On-Call Consulting

The business structure for design and construction of a new project, whether it be a Custom Home or Commercial building, is typically contracted in one of two ways: the Owner hiring a separate Architect and separate General Contractor, or one entity that is licensed to provide both services, commonly know as a Design-Build company.


in either case, who does the Owner really have, as an independent fiduciary to them only and is a seasoned Resource, looking after their personal interests exclusively and confidentially?

As an example, BSA Inc Design & Construction is currently retained as an independent Architect and General Contractor Consultant, providing On-Call Consultant services for Homeowners in Santa Monica, CA. The scope of work is a new ground up 5,000 sq. ft. home and detached Studio/Garage.

In one of our initial meetings and before a permit was pulled, just two insightful architecture/construction cost saving suggestions paid for our fee and saved the Owner’s over $20,000 in construction costs, that were slated to be spent.

This was accomplished in a collaborative manner, before plans were submitted to the building department and along with the clients architect, so drawings and specifications could be revised as needed, to optimize the cost effectiveness of future construction trade agreements.

Base Consultant Services Include:

  • Receiving direct-cost Supplier pricing for: quality, environmentally appropriate and virtually maintenance-free materials, that are available from our pool of resources over the past three decades.
  • Optimization of a cohesive team of Subcontractors, whom have proven their ability to provide a timely, cost effective and quality job, with follow-up service as needed, after the project has been completed.
  • Contract Safeguards implemented into trade ‘boiler-plate’ agreements; ensuring additional protection against excessive cost and time overruns within subcontracts.
  • Construction schedule, quality and cost saving alternatives, after review of the plans
  • Cost data cross checking throughout the job, between field work and contracts, averting runaway budget overruns.
  • Conjoining with other team members before and during construction, to provide the Owner with unrealized project benefits

Adjunct Consulting Services Available Include:

  • Photographic documentation of the construction process
  • Explore/rework alternate floor plan designs for: schedule efficiency, quality and cost optimization
  • Contractor performance resolution during construction
  • Client construction job-walk analysis
  • Owner Special Requests

For more information or discussion on how our Consulting Services could best fit your needs and benefit you, please inquire at our contact page.

Best to you always!
Barry R. Shaw AIA, G.C.
Barry Shaw & Associates, Inc.

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Categories: Barry ShawGeneral
Barry Shaw
August 17, 2016
Luxury House

Inspector Approves Six Trades-In One Day? With the Seventh of Intrinsic Value for…

A new Luxury Home Design-Build project in Westwood, CA, with some of the most stringent and extensive codes in the Nation, that necessitates in-depth Trade coordination; individually and cohesively, throughout the entire construction project.

In this case, BSA Inc Design & Construction scheduled a six Trade ‘rough-in’ inspection for a single day (Framing/Structural Connections; Electrical; Plumbing; HVAC; Sprinklers and Green Code requirements), admittedly a significant amount of work for an Inspector to scrutinize at one time; with typical expectations of three or so being approved.

These inspections are notably important and what we call ‘Milestones’, of which we passed, allowing us to insulate, drywall and then start finish work.  Months of preparation with multiple material suppliers, subcontractors and our in-house resources, was strategically woven in and out of daily/weekly/monthly schedules, with our close on-site supervision, ensuring quality work as well.

All Trades were building from our Architectural plans produced in our Los Angeles office, which was designed and engineered with our proprietary Design-Build system, yielding a cost effective, quality and timely project.

For example, in the case of a new ground up home, if there was only $1,500/trade of ‘industry standard’ Inspector requests, along with at least a few days for each trade to come back and revise as needed, that would have added about $10,000 in extra costs, a half a month of move-in time extension and over $7,000 in property mortgage/temporary rent expenses; not so for our Client.

But the biggest benefit to the project as a whole, was probably the ‘Seventh’ Trade; the one with no tools; no materials; no trucks and is unseen; it’s the Trade of ‘Positive Psychological Momentum’ that is so important to an ongoing and consistent progression of construction, upholding the project’s initial goals.

Everybody wins and the benefits are realized and enjoyed by all participants: the Homeowner saves time and money and will be able to move in to their new home sooner; the Subs feel a sense of accomplishment and are proud of their work and we feel quite gratified from our achievements, working with City Building Inspectors.


Best To You Always!

Barry Shaw

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Categories: Design-Build
Barry Shaw
July 13, 2015
BSA Inc Design & Construction Tent Event

BSA Inc Design & Construction – Tent Event

We integrated again with one of our favorite charities (A Precious Child), whom assists disadvantaged children and their families, to procure a productive and happy life, in a dignified manner.

This event took place in Denver, Colorado area, not far from our satellite architecture and general contracting office. The venue was a resort golf club and included raffles, auctions and of course a catered lunch. We arranged for participation by a local restauranteur, whom we are consulting with for design and construction services for their remodel and future franchise prototype plans. He was kind enough to provide a delectable assortment of lunch entrees, supplemented by the participation of a champion Iowa smoker/barbecue ‘chef’, that we are friends with and brought in for this event.

The event was held under a heated tent, which provided shelter from light sprinkles, as well as providing an audience of almost (200) the ability to engage with many of the speakers (i.e. retired Denver Nugget star), Sponsors (i.e. Land Rover, Edward Jones Investing, etc.) and bid on an assortment of over (50) items.

We worked alongside our ‘caterers’ for the duration of the event and in the end, hundreds of thousands of dollars were in less than three hours. It was a fun, successful event for all; including of course, children in the near future that will benefit from their ‘silent partners’.

Best always!

Barry Shaw

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Categories: Community Service
Barry Shaw
April 27, 2015
BSA, Inc. Community Service

BSA Inc Design & Construction – Community Service

This month BSA Inc Design & Construction partnered with a Rotary Club near Erie, Colorado, to participate in a segment of the Boulder Valley School District Capital Improvement plan.

About ten of us assisted with reconstruction of the landscaping and upgrades to the school site, at the Alicia Sanchez International School. The days program was guided by
Principal, Doris Candelarie, Ph.D. (seen in photograph with Barry Shaw). The children attending this school come from economically disadvantaged families, thus are not ‘equipped’ with the resources or home environment, that peers at other schools may have.

We feel that One’s environment, whether it be at home, school or work, provides a tangible and/or subliminal atmosphere, that can offer positive influences and be supportive to productive daily outcomes. When children embark onto this schoolyard, their first ‘impression’ when stepping onto the school grounds, are in fact, the grounds themselves.

Therefore, just as the initial entry to a remodeled home provides us with an enriched sense of well being, so does the presence of what these children see, smell and ‘absorb’, on there way to start school in the morning. At the end of the day, an organized, clean, colorful, informative (some of the plants and trees had identification tags on them for educational purposes) and well maintained landscape environment, had been established.

Best Always!, Barry R. Shaw AIA, G.C.

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Categories: Community Service
Barry Shaw
March 2, 2015

Second Story Addition on and 86 Year Old Home – Is It Safe?

Being a Colorado based home contractor for several decades now, it’s likely that we will be presented with a request to build a second story addition on top of a very old one story home, that will also undergo a major remodel.

Typically a house of this era is built on a ‘raised foundation’, whereby there is a perimeter continuous footing (many times not with rebar in it) and ‘interior’ small concrete piers, supporting posts, girders and the floor joist/subfloor framing.

The raised foundation and framing systems could have been structurally upgraded over the years, but can remain mostly independent from an astute post and beam second story addition design, that we construct, according to the latest seismic codes.

These posts and beams are secured with structural connections, all the way from the roof, down to the new footing pads.  These new pads are engineered with high strength concrete and steel reinforcing bars, that connect to the new post framing members, from specific details incorporated into our architectural home plans.

As a Colorado home contractor with an A+ rating, we ensure our Client’s safety, by verifying on the job, that this process is performed correctly. This is accomplished with a licensed Architect or licensed General Contractor from our firm, physically performing on-site observations, verifying that top quality construction methodologies are being implemented in the field.

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