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If you're like most homeowners, you probably dream of one day completing a major home or remodeling project. And I'm not talking about re-tiling a tub here. This is the once-in-a-lifetime renovation or dream home — the kind that dramatically changes how you live, energizes the entire household, and makes all the neighbors really jealous.
Perhaps your dream is to build a two-story addition with a family room below and a master bedroom and bath above. Or maybe you've always wanted to expand the kitchen and install French doors leading to a wraparound deck. Or you maybe contemplating Constructing a New Custom Home. Regardless of what your dream entails, all major remodeling projects or a new home can benefit from the expert design help and advice of an experienced, licensed architect.
I know what you're thinking: Architects are way too expensive and only necessary when building multi-million-dollar commercial facilities—and last week's economic roller coaster isn't helping any. The truth is, architects are well worth the cost on large or small new homes or remodeling jobs because with thoughtful evaluation and design, they can meet—and often exceed—your expectations and save you those fees and more. In fact, depending on the size or complexity of the home or remodeling, calling in an architect might be the only way to get the project off the ground, and to ensure your dream comes true. Here's why you consider taking the plunge if you're gung ho about a small (garage) or large-scale redo on the whole-house or even a new home.
A Licensed Architect is the only building design professional, who is qualified with the proper extensive education, acquired internships, comprehensive licensing examinations, decades of exhaustive practical experience, ongoing continuing education that has the training and knowledge, design expertise, abilities and vision to design your residence and remodels, and whom is budget minded, energy conscious, looks out for your needs and deals with the construction industry everyday, and guides you through construction to make that house a home or a remodel to function and fit into the architecture you live in.
An Architect will design your home based on your lifestyle, tailor-making the layout to suit your desired spatial requirements. This is highly preferable to settling for someone else's cookie cutter plans that have nothing to do with your desired way of life or how your everyday life functions. A licensed residential architect may find reasons that you may never had thought about. A custom home or remodeling project designed by a licensed Architect can meet your requirements and the way you want to live, work and play in your new livable space.
Don't you and your family deserve to have your home custom designed by a professional: a licensed residential architect?
An Architect will take into account your specific project building site, take advantage of the wonderful views that induced you to buy it, and make sure that you continue to enjoy the sites amenities in the built residence. Also, the sun and winds behave in a particular manner around your site. Your Architect will document those, and other environmental conditions, to improve your energy efficiency, comfort and enjoyment of living in a custom residence on your property. Site orientation on the property and the proper location of the home can reduce the cost of grading and its foundations. It may even reduce the use of energy over the life of the building. It will take advantage of the views and the site topography along with the environmental impact the way the new home relates to the site. Any Utility systems are researched and thought through prior to any site orientation and the homes final installation.
An architect has the training and skill to produce a detailed design right from scratch, based on your particular needs and desires, wants and aspirations - a design that's sensitive to the architecture of your existing home or the one you have always dreamed of, and scaled to the proper proportions. However, what truly makes an architect valuable is the ability to develop and refine a thought or vision of the completed project that you can see and understand. And architects are experts at seeing not only the big picture, but also the hundreds of tiny steps between concept and completion.
After the initial consultation, and once you and the architect have defined the scope, features, purpose, budget and functionality of the project, the architect will develop a set of preliminary drawings, sometimes called schematics. These drawings are just the first of many that you should expect to see.
When most of us think of an architect - designed project, we envision the aesthetics of the home or building: its size, shape and finished surfaces. How it fits into its surroundings and neighborhood. But behind the pretty face are the skeletal bones of the building. It's the architect's job to design the project to satisfy building codes and meet specific structural demands for that particular design. And striking that balance between aesthetic beauty and structural safety is no easy task - it requires a vast knowledge of various building codes, materials and construction techniques and implementing them into a cohesive design that works for your new home or remodeling project. Hiring a pro makes sure your new home design and/or renovations to an existing home plays by the rules.
No one understands the design of your project or can foresee its looks better than the licensed Architect, which is why he or she is the perfect person to coordinate the various construction professionals before the work starts in earnest. For example, an architect will meet with structural and electrical engineers or HVAC engineers prior to design and/or construction to discuss its internal functioning, answer questions and ensure everyone knows their job and what parameters they will work by.
The architects' plans make all the difference in translating your wants and dreams to the details a contractor needs for construction. If a problem should arise - which often happens - the plans will act as a record of what should have been done, and the architect will find a solution without compromising the design, your needs or your wallet.
Once the design phase and drawings are completed, you can decide how involved the architect is in the actual day-to-day construction of the project - if at all. You can hire an architect just to design the project and create all the necessary drawings, and that's it. He or she then has no further involvement. However, for an additional fee, many architects will provide what is considered Contract Administration, or "CA" for short. "When you sign a CA contract", "the architect will check in on the construction from time to time to answer questions and ascertain if work is adhering to the intent of the design.", and verifying the work schedule and confirming that all work is done properly and according to the final plans and specifications. He checks on the progress to be sure the work meets the requests for payments that the contractor is submitting prior to a check being issued. Finally, the architect provides an extra set of eyes on the job, keeping the contractor in line for the work he has signed his contract to complete the project in accordance with the documents provided, and managing the client's budget, so that payments don't get ahead of job progress.
Many times these Contract Administration Services alone can pay for your Architect's additional fees after drawings are complete and construction begins.
Many architects have been designing buildings that are environmentally sensitive to both the planet and the homeowner for years and the country seems to be finally catching up. Considering sustainability in concept and construction techniques will ensure that your investment lasts a long time, limits its energy consumption and saves you money through better and efficient design.
Many of the options available vary widely depending on the experience of the architectural firm and the circumstances of a project. Even if you're not plunging into a photo-voltaic array, or a backyard wind farm, smart choices can make significant and smaller gains. You may consider using recycled and nontoxic materials, solar or passive water heaters, efficient insulation and trustworthy thermostats. Thus, because many of these measures involve whole-house systems, it's critical to plan them in advance.
Client's dreams and ideas are designed, drawn professionally and sent out for competitive bids. The competitive bid process saves the client thousands even on a smaller project, by allowing for apples to apples bid comparisons between different builders before they are hired. Detailed drawings protect the client from inferior materials and workmanship during the construction. This magnifies the economic psychology of competitive bidding to the advantage of the client. The clients€™s goal is obtaining construction value. The architect helps ensure the client receives this value at a fair price and truly completes that dream House or Remodel project that he/she has always desired.
We define and clarify your building needs by collecting information (programming of space), determining what rooms and spaces you want, what characteristics will be important to you, and consideration of traffic patterns throughout the new home or remodeled spaces. This makes it your custom Home or Remodel and fitting your wants and/or needs within a reasonable and defined budget.
We take into consideration how all this will come together and present several Schematic design sketches for you to contemplate which will flow properly and meet your requirements, which in turn has taken into consideration your ideas and has been discussed to its fullest throughout the design process and the plans completion. This presents a one-of-a-kind designed home or remodel that meets your specific lifestyle and your families needs.
In the case of Remodeling, specific detailing of the home is thought through to present more accurate and proposed costs for repairs. This is all completed before constructing and tearing out of any walls or framing because it wasn’t what you expected. Designs of the home or its remodeling can be presented in a modeling format, allowing you to see your project and walk through it before it's constructed. This saves many headaches, aggravation and cash flow for the project which in turn reduces the mortgage bottom line and the opportunities for mistakes in judgment are drastically reduced.
The Architect has a thorough understanding of many Federal, Municipal, Building and Energy Codes in areas you or your realtor or contractor may not be aware of. The design shall meet or exceed the municipal codes and is a safe structure to live and play in for its life cycle. Architects are trained to review and interpret rules and regulations set down by the Industry standards for the nation and local municipalities. Architects are required to meet Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) each time they renew their Professional License. It is everyone's obligation to follow the proper Municipal Zoning, Health, Safety and Welfare Codes. This way it will be comforting to know that you have meant the Health, Safety and Welfare requirements in your design to keep your family safe and comfortable in your new dream Home or Renovation.
We are here to maximize your investment. We look for ways to make your project energy efficient and cost effective. We perform Probable Project cost estimating to help keep the project in line with your budget throughout its design as required and to help you understand what changes may effect that budget along the way.
In designing and building custom homes or additions, time is money. The more time you spend figuring out exactly how your house will be used and the more time you spend in “value analysis,” and acquiring a more specific set of drawings, the less money ends up being spent. This is exactly what your Architect will do during the Process if hired to do so.
We can ease the design and construction process through proper communication based on our education and experience in the field of the built environment.
We can suggest reputable Contractors we have had rewarding experiences with on other projects and they feel comfortable working with licensed professionals.
We develop creative and functional solutions and find ways to reduce construction costs throughout the entire project. We are trained problem solvers and can meet past, present and future needs of a design.
We create total environments, both interior and exterior, that are functional and exciting places to live, work and play. Our goal is to make that dream come true.
We can design efficient use of space to help reduce costs and the total area you may require thus reducing costs. Oversized rooms are not always the answer, but a well proportioned room is. A well-designed home or addition will add value to the home and can reduce initial costs and also increase its long-term value. It is another means to help offset the Architect's fee and bring value to his/her services.
We are specially-educated to solve problems in creative ways. We can help you avoid costly surprises and provide innovative solutions you might never have considered, solutions that make your home more efficient, functional and appealing, and solutions that maximize your investment, which in turn will enhance the marketing value to sell the property and acquire a much higher equity, when and if the need should arise.
We approach a project with an open mind toward a broad range of methods, materials, and components, as opposed to a Contractor who may lean toward his construction methods and suppliers only or just materials he has on hand. This limits the design capabilities for the project and places your custom home or addition like all the others.
We can help with finding Mortgage Lenders, Suppliers and many other entities during or prior to the construction of your custom home or addition or remodel throughout the entire Project.
We are here to look out for your interests, save you time, money and will do our professional best to find ways to make this long process of design and construction go smoothly for you and your family.
We can coordinate with others on the construction team and communicate with builder’s language easily. This cuts back mistakes generated by miscommunication amongst the builder and his crew and or subcontractors with you, the homeowners that are unaware.
We can help simplify well over 9,000 to 20,000 decisions that must be made before you turn that first key in the front door of your new custom designed remodel, addition or home.
It is our pleasure to be available when you have questions and need answers! Thus it will be refreshing to know that you will have someone that can answer those technical building construction questions, or building code questions you might have, generally days, evenings till 9PM and sometimes weekends and Holidays. Just call the office numbers listed.
Resale value and resale speed: An architecturally designed residence can be worth more than standard builder homes in many parts of the country, and the architecturally designed homes can sell faster, if competitively priced. In a challenging economy which many areas seem to fall under, you need every edge you can find in the housing market. If the Realtor knows and is aware that a home or your remodeling was designed by an Architect, you may end up realizing that your investment in your architect has paid you back many times for this one consideration alone.
A house or remodeling project custom designed to nearly your every wish, fits you like a glove, saying “Yes” to your “yes” at every turn. Everything is a pleasure, you and your family seem to be most content with none of the frustrations you have had living in other people’s used homes or that last one you had designed and constructed by a reputable Contractor that you have purchased in the past.
The family seems relaxed, calm, cool and collected in their new environment.
You have indulged yourself with the purchase of that dream vehicle you wanted for years, why not indulge yourself with your dream house? You work hard. You love your family and its growing, or your in need of more space. You bought that special piece of property. Your desire is to be on the water. Now is the time to engage your favorite residential architect and get him or her busy on your dream house or that Remodeling project that you have been putting off for years. It is hard to put a price on satisfaction and enjoyment of your life, however there is an awful lot of value and satisfaction in making your dream come true. Your architect can help you accomplish this and keep your thoughts in line with your pocket book.
An architect produces extremely high quality documents. Part of an architect’s training and apprenticeship (3 years minimum) includes demanding critical analysis of everything he or she does, especially focused on the documents they produce. Most architects produce their documents on computers these days, which their highly trained skills from their experience makes their details and dimensions very accurate. Precision and experience is part of the reason you have an architect involved.
They do things professionally. They position the features of your house in 3 dimensions, locating them in X, Y and Z coordinates so that your builder knows where to place them in the built structure. And having detailed, thorough construction documents eliminates most of your builder’s questions, which means the builder’s pricing can be accurate from Day-1. And you should benefit from your architect’s detailed, accurate documents, because contractors traditionally will bid higher prices for unknown conditions and sketchy documents.
Having precise documents from your architect should allow your builder to provide you with reasonable pricing for exactly what has been designed. This also allows your construction to proceed faster, because your builder will have fewer questions to resolve. And normally, if a contractor knows the direction he is going, faster construction = lower price.
Architects produce accurate, highly defined and detailed drawings from either Basic Construction or Bid Contract Documents (with written formal specifications) for a project based on a client’s needs and budget. He/she shall enforce their experience into each project to be sure of its accuracy and the quality of their work. They perform checks and cross checks of the work prior to releasing any plans and specifications, for bidding purposes or working with a per-chosen contractor.
An Architects CAD program is designed to simplify drawing procedures and make changes much more efficient. The program will not automatically design a new project, but with the right technician and the right CAD program; it sure can depict a design in more detail and help fine tune one’s design to clarify it for you by use of 2D and 3D capabilities. The overall process still requires due diligence to coordinate all aspects of one’s thoughts amongst those involved with any programming of the spaces. But keep in mind CAD is only another tool for a means to draw and still takes time to plan and develop.
You may have discovered that salesman in the construction field are trying to sell you a certain package of materials, a cookie cutter design, or a certain per-existing design of something. Your architect is the one who carefully listens to you, hearing what you want and he or she takes notes and asks occasional and pertinent questions to clarify your desires.
You will discover that the dissatisfaction you may have felt dealing with other so-called individual unlicensed designers, or unlicensed designers at construction companies or contractors and other material companies evaporates when you find yourself with a real licensed architect. The real licensed architect listens and hears what you want, then makes sure you get it if it can be done and meet your budget constraints. The real licensed architect has only one objective: to make you happy by designing the house or that new remodeling project you need and maybe want. No other legitimate entity in the housing industry has this fiduciary relationship with you.
Things that may seem impossible to you, as a lay person, become immediately transparent to a skilled architect. Architects solve three dimensional, functional, technical and aesthetic issues for a living environment. Design professionals have probably solved a situation similar to yours at some time previously. Trust your issues to a registered professional; they can get it done for you.
No one understands the design of your project or can foresee its looks better than the Licensed Architect, which is why he or she is the perfect person to coordinate the various construction professionals before the work starts in earnest. For example, an architect will meet with structural engineers or HVAC mechanics prior to design and/or construction to discuss the design, answer questions and ensure everyone knows their job and what parameters they will work by. They shall check for mechanical clearances and more.
The architects' plans make all the difference in translating your needs and affordable wants and dreams to the details a contractor requires. If a problem should arise - which often happens - the plans will act as a record of what should have been done, and the architect will find a solution without compromising the design, your needs or your wallet.
With a fairly clear idea of the type of house or addition you want and where it will be built; even if where, is unclear, the time has come to select the professionals, who will make your dreams a reality. Your budget and design needs will most likely dictate whether you retain an Architect, an engineer, a designer, builder or all of them for your building team. Whether you retain an Architect or designer to work directly with a Builder on the design of your dream project, it is strongly recommended that you involve a Licensed Architect each step of the way. An Architect's input from the start; with advisement from a builder as to current costs and some ways to save dollars, can prevent problems and misunderstandings down the road not only in design but the projects construction. Your Architect can advise you on design and building approaches, site analysis, local Zoning and Building Code requirements, the latest building products and materials, new energy saving techniques, and also ways to save money; all the details consumers face when they decide to have a custom home, remodel or addition built.
The following information defines the role of this highly skilled and motivated professional and offers guidance on selecting your building team that is best for you.
The primary goal of the Architect who designs your home or addition, will be to design the structure creatively, functionally, energy efficient, safely, environmentally healthy, sometimes Green and satisfy your needs and budget. This means interpreting your ideas, developing the correct relationship between house (or addition) and the site, accurately estimating probable costs to fit your budget requirements, specifying materials, meeting your needs and reviewing your wants, providing plan documents a contractor and subcontractor can follow, and meeting permit requirements in your locality.
It is wise to select your Architect early in the process. He/she can be invaluable in helping to select a site by pointing out both its potential and its constraints and how to make each of them coincide with the environment and natural beauty of the site. As you get to know each other during the land selection process, the Architect is better able to understand your housing and space needs and direct you with your needs or wants.
Selecting the Architect for your dream project will be easier if you understand the basic steps involved in the design process. They include:
You and the Architect will discuss your design thoughts and what you have in mind for a new project. You have been dreaming to complete this project for several weeks, months, maybe even years but you have nowhere to start. You’ve even discussing it with your friends, neighbors, family and even contractors which had only added to the confusion as to how you should begin…….or worse launched into an expensive design service without an established relationship, or still worse, not carefully establishing the groundwork and research for your project at hand, such as Zoning and permit issues.
‘A surgeon wouldn’t operate without a proper and thorough exam and diagnosis, so…’
The initial NEEDS AND OPTIONS REVIEW works in this same manner. It will allow you to start a design analysis to precisely understand your specific requirements and potential road-blocks, then give:
We have developed this process a few years back because there is a huge issue in the construction industry of people starting design and yes even construction BEFORE they have fully done their research and homework and critiqued their ideas. This can be a formula for disaster, such as unable to acquire a permit to begin your dream.
The consequence of inadequate upfront research of needs and options is like … building a house on bad foundations.
The foundations are the most important part of the whole house or project because everything is built on top and is the base to start the rest of the structure. It’s very expensive to change foundations once you have started to build on them, but very easy to change them if they are simply lines on a plan or drawing.
So … that is the reason we spend a little more time on the research than most other firms who may rush you into a design phase because that is where they earn their worth.
There are (6) important steps in constructing a building:
When considering planning a new custom home – the high-level Needs and Options Review with a Licensed Architect is the first step to a successful design. Why …. You will?
Choosing an Architect isn’t easy ….
You need the right Architect who has the specific skill for your style and type of residential project. This right ‘fit’ between you and your Architect is key.
…. This may not be me!
In our vast experience, the best way of feeling out whether we are the right ‘fit’ is to fully understand what you are looking for. This is achieved through an initial consultation and completing our Needs and Options Review.
If for some reason we discover we are not an ideal ‘fit’ then you are free to take the report and its complete information to another licensed designer for them to continue the design and construction drawing process once full payment has been made for the finished report.
Generally there is a fee for this Research and Informative service which includes an initial site visit and a follow-up meeting for delivery and our review of the report with you. This fee is separate from the remaining Phases that shall take place when you are ready to begin the design process, if you decide to continue with our services. The following Phases are listed below.
You and the Architect will discuss design and programming ideas, budgets, timetables, qualified contractors, financing and fee arrangements into a more detailed summary. A scope of work will be developed and a written Proposal or contract drawn up to define the work you may require of the Architect. Once a proposal is approved, a legal and binding contract will be furnished to further define the scope and compensation for the work to be performed, thereby requesting a Retainer amount to start the next Phase of sketches.
The Architect revisit’s the site, completes as built field work and drawings, utilizes results from the NOR, and analyzes you and your way of life to begin the design of your project. This is the time for talking and thinking about land, using the program and design file each of you have put together, and explaining each room and your vision of it. The Architect, after his site investigation or as built field work is complete, he/she will design the building so it will be suitably oriented to the existing structure and its site; If it is a new home for the property; the sun, the landscape, the utilities, the view, and prevailing winds become an important factor.
He will translate your programmed ideas into a set of rough drawings that include a site plan when necessary (showing the house or addition and drive location), necessary floor plans, and a couple elevations as required. These sketched ideas are presented through careful study and technical design to assure its successful construction. The ideas will incorporate discussed elements of design. These basic elements are form, space, light, shadow, texture, line and color. With these basic elements, the ideas will also incorporate the principles of design, which are unity, repetition, rhythm, variety, emphasis, symmetry and balance. Between the use of the elements and principles of design, your ideas for the dream home or addition can become a reality. Also at this time a probable cost estimate is established to try to adhere and fit near your budget that we discussed.
Approved Preliminary Design is then fine-tuned and tweaked to start the final dimensioning and generic detailing (full detailing if full drawing services are requested) and labeling is applied to plans and elevations.
The Basic structural design is determined and exterior elevations are carried through the design. Some basic or generic specifications and details are developed and discussed. The mechanics of the heating and cooling systems (full detailing if full drawing services are requested) are discussed and developed if fees allow; rooms are laid out, and exterior materials with interior finishes (generic or specific depending on fees) are chosen. Plans are developed up to approximately 60% completion, as to an approved site plan, floor plans, foundation plan and all exterior elevations. No final fine detailing such as Sections are presented in this phase. This is the time to make your final design decisions and/or changes.
A. MODEL or PERSPECTIVES:
Any home or addition may require or be requested by the owner to complete a model or be enhanced by drawing a perspective drawing, or produce modeling on CAD which always involves an additional fee and time to complete. A model can help clarify intricate roof details and give the owner a reality look at what his/her dream home can become on a specific site. Perspective drawings relate a look at the building in three dimensional orientations as if you may be looking at it photographically setting on the property. Either media will give the owner a better understanding of the building and help in its final design and with its architectural curb appeal.
These are the means for final Construction drawings (or Bid Documents), drawn to scale, that will be used to construct the project. They detail the project with labeled foundation plans, floor plans, exterior elevations, building and wall sections, specific notes, plan and section details and schedules as necessary to meet the agreed fee and the scope of work. Each element in accordance to the scope of work is shown as necessary, from the placement of light fixtures to the design of the roof overhang and its peak. Construction drawings are required to be Stamped by a licensed Architect and both you and the Architect should sign the final released set to avoid possible disagreements. Ask how long it will take for the Architect to draw up your dream project? You can usually expect to spend 1 to 6 months depending on the scope of work in your contract, size of project, style and type of home, to get your dream home or Addition translated into working drawings. An exception to this rule, is designing a custom home or addition. It may take up to 6 months or a year depending on how the design process flows between you and your Architect.
PLEASE NOTE: Basic Architectural Plans (considered CONSTRUCTION DRAWINGS), such as floor plans, elevations, a typical wall section, and any pictorial drawings, are adequate for describing the general design of a residential structure or its remodeled space for most municipalities. However, to ensure the building will be completed as you or the Architect specifies, a more complete and detailed description of the construction features of the design must be prepared (Full services Contract Bid Documents). This additional work will surely increase the Architect’s fees but will undoubtedly cut construction costs and keep the bids more closely in line along with keeping the project from going in the wrong direction and requiring many change orders throughout its construction. This savings will more than likely pay for itself many times over the Architect’s fees.
Generally the full specifications accompany the Full Services Contract Documents either separately or listed on the plans, or both. They are a detailed written list, describing sizes, kinds and quality of building materials and define the methods of construction, fabrication, or installation of each type of material, and work involved in building the project. The specifications identify the quality, type, and brand name or manufacturer of components acceptable to be used in each construction phase. Specifications guarantee the purchaser that the contractor will deliver the building when it is finished exactly as drawn and specified. These documents also help ensure that the building will be constructed according to generally accepted standards and building codes that are required.
When specifications accompany Basic Construction Drawings they are Generic in format. They will only give enough information to specify a generic name for the material so one can order what ever brand, style, or color that one may desire for such item in question and follow that format throughout the plans provided. Owner is responsible for choosing the materials he/she may desire in the project with a pre-chosen Contractor prior to signing any contract or obtaining any Bids.
Once Full Services Contract drawings and specifications are finally approved and signed, they are ready for bidding. If you are working with the Architect, you may retain him/her to handle this phase at an additional fee, or you can do it yourself. If done by owner or his resources, the responsibility will lie with him to see that the building is built in accordance with the said plans and specifications provided by his/her Architect and answer any technical questions that may arise during the Bid Process.
The Full Services Contract drawings and specifications are the basis both for competitive bids and for actual construction. You must be sure that the same specifications are used for each bid to ensure that all of the bids you receive are for identical labor and materials. Each bidder must be able to compete equally and compare apples to apples. The bids you receive will tell you whether the job can be done within your budget, or whether adjustments to your plans and/or specifications are needed. Any adjustments needed may be at an additional fee depending upon your contract with your Architect and the final arrangements made with your contractor.
If an Architect is designing your new Residential project and your contract contains no project administration provisions, you may want to negotiate with him/her to monitor the work in progress, consulting with you and the builder throughout the construction process to ensure that plans are being executed as detailed. After all, you spent all this time and effort into the design for the project, why not be sure it gets built according to your vision which was approved with the plans and specifications that were developed. An Architect will normally charge an hourly rate for this phase, ranging from $80.00 to $125.00 an hour and up, plus expenses, depending on geographic location, contractor hired and the type of project, whether residential single or two-family homes. For further CA information, discuss this with your Architect prior to signing any contracts.
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