Initial Conversation & Charrette

My process often starts with an intensive, multi-day planning period called a charrette, in which I'll meet my client on-site to exchange ideas, explore possibilities and develop a plan that everyone's excited about. By giving client and architect the ability to discover common ground in a condensed period of time, the charrette helps us accomplish in just days a process that might otherwise take weeks or even months.


Using hand-drawn sketches, I'm able to quickly exchange ideas to establish a visual dialogue with my client until it's apparent that we share a common vision. Sketches begin as simple diagrams and quick "napkin" drawings, increasing in intricacy with every round. While establishing conceptual aesthetics and layout, I'll incorporate natural elements such as landscape, sun, views and topography. The result is a visual road-map that will serve as a guide for the stages ahead.




Building a 3D model helps bring the design to life, giving both the client and myself a valuable perspective not offered by drawings. Built to scale and personally crafted by hand, the model allows me the opportunity to better understand the building's relationship to the site and, subsequently, make any necessary refinements. Once the model is developed, I layer a scale photo of it into a larger photo of the site, creating a snapshot of the house in the context of its surroundings.

Design Review Process

Over the past 25 years, I've gone through virtually every design review board in the Vail Valley, giving me a strong sense of what's possible for each project. I'm not afraid to push the boundaries, yet I understand review board standards and am committed to guiding each project through the approval process as seamlessly as possible.

Construction Bid & Build

I've been fortunate to build strong relationships with some of Vail Valley's best contractors, builders and skilled laborers during my tenure here. My experience with a wide range of professionals gives me the luxury of assembling teams with skills tailored to the unique needs of each individual project. I keep costs low by working with contractors through every stage of the bidding process, and I'm on call during construction to supervise and problem-solve. I take pride in serving as a liaison between my client and any other professionals -- whether engineers, builders, designers or government officials --- to ensure our vision is carried out to its fullest potential.

Forming Lasting Relationships

Building another person's dream home is a privilege that I take much joy in, as much for the finished product as for the process itself. Taking the time to understand and collaborate with my clients is not just part of the job, but truly a pleasure for me. When all is said and done, I strive to remain friends with many former clients, and take great pride in not only the homes that I've worked on, but the relationships built along the way.


Hands-on, personal and collaborative, my process is founded on the idea that building a house should be fun. Working directly with me ensures a one-on-one process free of delegation and with 100% accountability. From conception to completion, I'm proud to be there for my clients every step of the way.

- Tom Cole