Today we’d like to introduce you to Sebastian Eilert.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Moin! I was born in Hamburg, Germany and have found my way to Miami, Florida. After studying at the University of Miami and completing my degree in Architecture, I started working in the field and quickly completed my architectural and interior design licenses. After experience in High-end residential work, educational projects as well as municipal building design I found my passion in sustainable design and construction. A founding member of the USGBS (US Green Building Council) South Florida chapter, now merged into the Florida Chapter of the USGBC, as well as chair of the AIA (American Institute of Architects) COTE (Committee on the Environment) and numerous presentation to other architects, homeowners and other interested parties, I expanded my knowledge in the field of sustainability and established credibility as a leader in the local market.
My growing knowledge and reputation in the sustainable construction industry lead to the founding of my own firm, a yearlong stint as a radio host on architectural topics, involvement in the historic preservation community and later to the creation of a lecture course for the University of Miami School of architecture. The German background combined with the US market experience provides me with a unique angle to focus on green building and design.
In the office, mostly residential projects included varying degrees of sustainability. Starting with air quality improvement, energy saving measures, water use reduction by design to fully energy independent homes with edible landscaping. Numerous certified and certifiable buildings are part of the portfolio, adding more depth to the beautiful projects we create, with over 10 years in the local market. From renovations to new homes as well as a number of bed & breakfast establishments, hotels and restaurants completed the company, Sebastian Eilert Architecture, focuses on delivering projects in a holistic manner. I am proud to continue to serve clients large and small in the residential and hospitality markets as we continue to make South Florida a little more sustainable, the German way.
Has it been a smooth road?
The road was certainly not smooth. I opened the office in 2006, at the height of the local market and shortly before its collapse, resulting in a loss of 80% of my clients and signed contracts after the first year of operations. The architecture profession is challenging to start for a small business, to begin with, so the lack of cash flow early on in the operations posed additional challenges.
Architects frequently are asked to provide design ideas at concept meetings, especially in residential constructions. These ideas take time and skill to develop and tend to be undervalued as a tangible and billable portion of the process. Design and construction documents are items that can be seen and touched, conveying a design and eventually, details required for permitting and construction. Getting to these items, however, is the majority of the “work”, easily accounting for 50% – 60% of the billable time. Since there is no “product” however until a plan is presented, clients still consider this service minor and have a hard time paying for it… to this day. Explaining the process and communicating the steps of the architectural service from design concept to project close remains one of the largest struggles for the small practitioner, such as ourselves.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Sebastian Eilert Architecture story. Tell us more about the business.
A few years ago I joined forces with my now business partner, Dan Lewis. Early on in our collaboration, it became clear that we want to provide holistic services to our clients in a way that allows them to understand each step of the process easier. As such, we moved our design and production process out of the 2D world of AutoCAD into the 3D BIM (Building Integrated Modeling) world of the third dimension. This decision allows us to create any building, or portion thereof, virtually before doing any engineering components and before starting any construction. It has enabled our clients who are less able to visualize a design idea, to fully understand and embrace the project from the start. We continue to push the 3D experience by sharing the model with our clients and even enabling them to “step into” the project with virtual goggles.
I am also proud to continue to push sustainability and durability into the majority of our projects. As a result, we have contributed to lower energy and water consumption for most projects, helping South Florida resources overall. Our projects include a LEED Platinum home that functions fully of grid (with water collection and filters and PV system with battery backup – legally still connected to FP&L), consulting for the first Miami Dade County GSA LEED certified building and a multitude of certifiable homes in South Florida. With a strong interest in small home living, our projects reduce the overall carbon footprint and contribute to cleaner air by using fewer resources and toxic materials. I am also fascinated by containers. Already having conventionalized a number of projects utilizing containers (read more about some of them on my blog: www.MiamiGreenHome.com), it is with great pleasure that we are currently working on a hotel in Wynwood that is utilizing containers for its rooms.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Miami continues to be a cultural hotbed with a growing population. The building industry will have to provide housing and places to work and play. I believe that the housing market may hit another bubble soon and will see a shift to more renting properties as home ownership is increasingly pushing people out of central areas.
The business world is attracting US and foreign investors and is likely to continue growing. There are few industrial areas to build out, so most of this growth will likely be in the commercial and service side rather than new buildings.
- Residential renovation/addition projects flat fee starts at $14,600 – architecture only
- New residential projects flat fee starting at $22,500 – architecture only
- Address: 13062 S.W. 133 Court
Miami, Florida 33186
- Website: www.SebastianEilert.com
- Phone: 305.253.5786
- Email: Sebastian@SebastianEilert.com
- Instagram: Against_Bad_Architecture
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/SebastianEilertArchitecture
- Twitter: www.Twitter.comSEilertArch
- Other: www.MiamiGreenHome.com