Gaines Group Architects
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Gaines Group Architects T-Shirts

Gaines Group Architects T-Shirts Now Available!

Gaines Group Architects T-Shirts will be available for pick up at the September 1, 2017 First Friday from 5pm – 8pm. This monthly event features a different artist each month. We offer food and drink for those attending and the artist is always available for discussions.

Gaines Group Architect Shirts

First Friday at The Depot

For September, our artist is Barbara Gautcher. Here is her artist statement:

“I’m continuing to explore abstraction, color, and collage in my paintings. These works are taken from sketches of the architectural features when looking out windows of buildings…the expanse of a sidewalk, the angle of a roof, the curve of a path, the lights for the path, the vertical of a building edge, or the horizontal of a patio wall. To me the window has become an opening to creative discoveries and to a world yet to be explored. 

These are 10 x 10 collages of design using color, line, and texture. They are rarely literal nor can one find a horizon line”


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harrisonburg farmhouse

Building a New Custom Home: Who to Trust and How to Meet Your Goals

new custom home

Building a new custom home is a leap of faith. It is a complicated process that requires trust in your team. There is design, construction, permits, setbacks, easements, rock, weather delays, room sizes, and aesthetics. So how do you get it all done? How do you figure out who to trust and how to meet your goals? How do you get it right?

You ask a lot of questions and interview the team. You also read many blog posts to find out what the architect believes and you read reviews to see what past clients are talking about.

new custom home

Some questions to get you started in the process are as follows:

  1. What style of home do you want?
  2. What is your comfortable budget?
  3. What is your max budget?
  4. What are your must-have wants?
  5. Do you want a custom home or just a new home (custom homes can only be designed by an architect in my experience)
  6. Do you want a home that is energy-efficient, healthy, and durable?
  7. What builder should you use?
  8. Where are you going to build and how will the house fit on the lot?
  9. How big should the house be to achieve your dream?
  10. How will you select everything, tie it all together, meet your budget and schedule, and convey all the decisions to your builder? (This is our job, give us a call!)

new custom home

Be patient, flexible, and try not to let the stress of a new custom home overwhelm you during the process. Having someone who goes through the process every day on your team is a great first step. We are always happy to discuss the process with you.


Chesapeake and Western Depot

The Gaines Group Harrisonburg office is taking shape.

The Gaines Group Harrisonburg office is taking shape.

Our new office is open and getting into shape.


The interior brick walls along the stair that were once covered in black char from the 80’s fire have been scraped. The stairs have been rebuilt leading to the second floor.


Heading into the second floor, the window and door opening from the fire was preserved showing the fire damage.


Where there once was a hole in the floor, now there is a kitchen finished with Alberene soapstone counters and Wolf Cabinets.


Our signage is installed done by Eddie Edwards Signs.


The front desk is installed using wood from attic fire damaged wood.  The base of the desk was fabricated by Excel Steel.


The high top desks face the Marvin windows.


Our LEED certificates are hung on the wall along with our awards placed on the shelving.


The 100-year-old drafting desk from Ray’s family has been refinished and installed into my office.


My office space is generous enough for a meeting table in addition to my desk. The wall behind is a dry erase board using Sherwin Williams system.


My miniature architect toy is hanging out with my CSI, Interchange, On the Road Collaborative, and CATEC mug.


My World’s Best Boss mug is there to remind everyone.


Several of my old models from college and a few 3-D printed models are on the file cabinets.


In our conference room we have a new table and chairs. What do you think? Again, there was no floor here a few months ago.


Our new old lights have been redone to be energy-efficient and to preserve the patina from years of use. Thanks to Live Wire for their wonderful work.


Maybe best of all, we have a large storage closet with lots of shelf space.

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Stop by and visit. Let us know your memories of the space. If you have any pictures from what the building used to be, we would love to see them.

Harrisonburg Office

Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance Facade Enhancement Grant

Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance Facade Enhancement Grant

Harrisonburg OfficeHarrisonburg Architect

Our first office in Harrisonburg opened in 2009 and the only place we looked for space was downtown. We knew it was the place for us with a vibrant and growing community. We opened an office above Oasis Art Gallery in a very unique, although mostly hidden by ugly metal panels, architectural treasure. Our office was on the second floor in the rounded corner of the building. There was very nice northern lights and plenty of windows. It was a very cool space. We stayed there for 2 years until we outgrew our space.

Harrisonburg Architect

Our next home, the Bank of America building, moved us to the heart of downtown, court square. This building has amazing architectural details and a landlord that takes care to keep it clean, neat, and in great shape. The space has served us well for almost 5 years. However, we have been looking for our permanent home since moving into this court square destination. With no exterior signage, a lack of accessible access to our office space, and comfort control limitations, we knew it would not be our final home in the burg.

Chesapeake Western Depot

So when rumors started that the Chesapeake Railroad Depot was going to be renovated, we made the call to the building owners. Our goal was to design the renovation and make this our long-term downtown Harrisonburg office location. With an incredible architectural history and most of the original details still in place under many layers of dirt, this is the perfect place to create a sustainable office for our valley branch. We have been working hard to maintain the integrity of the original design while implementing as much cool “green” factor as possible. We are thrilled to be one of the 5 projects selected for a Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance Facade Enhancement Grant. This will benefit the exterior renovation of our project helping to fund the signage, fencing, and landscape. 

Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance,

Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance Awards Façade Enhancement Grants

HARRISONBURG, VA – December 4, 2015 – Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 Façade Enhancement Grants, a program designed to assist businesses, property owners, and organizations with significant improvements to their building exteriors. In its 12th year, the program has awarded $175,000 to more than 95 projects.

This year, five projects were awarded grant funds with a total of $10,000 distributed among the selected projects. The total value of the five projects exceeds $ 116,000.

Recipients of the 2015 Façade Enhancement Grants include:

  • Blue Hub Co-Working: Funds, in the amount of $750, will be applied toward new signage for their office space located on Bruce Street.
  • Explore More Discovery Museum: The Children’s Museum was awarded $4,000 to help offset the cost of new exterior windows and lighting.
  • Historic C&W Railway Depot: Four thousand dollars ($4,000) was awarded to J-M Apartments to assist with the costs of the exterior brick restoration, signage, fencing and landscaping to restore the historic C&W Railway Depot.
  • Pale Fire Brewing: The brewery received $750, which will go towards historic signage.
  • The Sole Source will use grant funds, in the amount of $500, to add landscaping and café-style tables and chairs to their exterior at Urban Exchange.

“We wish to thank all of the businesses who participated in the grant program for their continued economic investment in downtown,” says Andrew Forward, chairman of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance’s Economic Development committee. “These projects will make a positive visual impact to their property and downtown.”

For more information, please contact Eddie Bumbaugh at 540-432-8934. For more information about Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance,


Press Resources:
Eddie Bumbaugh
Executive Director
P: 540.432.8934

Architect to expand office space in Harrisonburg

Architect to expand office space in Harrisonburg

We are in process of designing our new office space. Our Harrisonburg architectural firm has grown from my basement office in June 2008 to need more than the two office and conference room we have now. We are out of space and in need of something we can have some design control over. Our new space will be in the historic Chesapeake Western Railway building and will double our floor area.


We will share the second floor of this building with Herr and Company and Estland Design. The first floor will be the Marvin Window and Door showroom.

harrisonburg architect

The new space will give us the ability to continue to host high school students in our office that are interested in a career in architecture, expand our ability to share our conference room for small groups, and give us the technology upgrades we need to better serve our clients. Let me know what you think of our space so far.

harrisonburg architect harrisonburg architect harrisonburg architect

Top blog posts for 2014

Here are the top blog posts for 2014. Let us know which topic was your favorite!

5. The evolution of a sketch and list of ideas into a dream home.

IMG_5479_80_81In an age of immediate gratification architecture and construction is a slow process. We started the design for this custom home in Old Town Harrisonburg back in July of 2013 and the clients just moved in late last month – more than a year later. However, the process holds tremendous gratification when your clients dreams can be translated into drawings and then they are revealed slowly through construction…..

4. Building Code – The worst possible building you can build by law

DSC06359I respond to a lot of request for proposals and do a lot of interviews for new design projects. Sometimes there is a higher standard to which the new design needs to meet and sometimes the potential project is only aiming for building code minimum standards…..

3. How to Love an Architect

architectural stick figuresArchitects are a different breed. They find romance in restoration, poetry in a portico, and harmony in a historic district. A romantic dinner date is filled with observations about the exposed beams, glazing patterns, and a long list of how to redesign the space to make it flow better….

2. Home Energy Tips – Ventilation and Duct Sealing

IMG_0731I say it all the time, your home is the most complicated machine you own. One of the main reasons for this statement is your (HVAC) Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Systems. If you have a forced air Heat Pump that is controlling the temperature in your home, you are like most in our area….

1. Penn Laird Custom Home – Interior Photographs

_MG_1428_1This incredible home is done in Penn Laird, built by Trost Custom Homes, and the clients have moved in. Here are the other updates….


Thank you for reading and commenting on my posts this year. Your participation has made a huge difference for our success this year.

My photography from the past few months – architectural photography

As an architect in Harrisonburg, I spend most of my time balancing function with beauty. I see harmony in forms and shape. Here is some of my photography from the past few months. From a trip to Baltimore to a custom home in Harrisonburg I enjoy taking pictures of structures and nature. Let me know what you think.

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Tell me what you think of my photography below.

Vote for the best architectural details – best of the best

We have been asking you to vote for the best architectural details. Here are the winners from the last five weeks. Vote for your favorite of the favorites and we will announce the top detail! To thank you for voting each week, you will be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card.

Double Front Porch









Indoor Basketball Court

Indoor Basketball Court

Shipping container flooring used for ceiling

Chewning 006

Amazing Stair


Vegetated Roof




When Should I Hire a Registered Architect?

Hire a registered architectWhen selecting a restaurant you could go to a fast food joint if you don’t mind getting assembly line quality food.  However, if you want a meal that melts in your mouth, you will seek out a restaurant that has a chef. A Chef is someone that understands the subtle differences in texture, heat, and flavor used to create a meal that you will remember for years. You could always settle for a meal that is good, but when you are spending your money, why not go for great.

The same goes for a building a home or commercial building. You can “find” a plan online or hire a drafter (someone who does not have the professional training required to be licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia) or you can hire a registered architect. Hiring a registered architect will alleviate many of the hassles from your life that complicate the design and construction process. Their experience will guide you through the hurdles of construction, create a plan for success, and provide you with a building solution that is healthy, energy-efficient, and durable.

So if you are looking for a building solution that is better than assembly line quality food, hire a registered architect.

Labor Day 2013 – Architecture: An industry in recovery

To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.” – Sr. Thomas Watson

Becoming an architect takes a huge commitment, unrelenting passion, and of course lots of time and money. It can be a rewarding career if you are able to sustain your energy long enough to get through all the hurdles. I did, made it through all the obstacles, achieved licensure, and then became a partner in a firm. My career goal of owning my own architectural practice had been achieved. Then the bottom fell out of the economy. A complete and total melt down, the likes of which has never been experienced in my lifetime.

Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ~ Confucious

Like most small architectural firms, we (The Gaines Group) are more of a family than a traditional business. We have three partners of which I am the youngest. We decided at the start of the financial melt down not to let anyone go – once again, we are more like a family than a business. So lets say, the past five years have been extremely difficult financially for us. We expanded our staff to better serve our clients, opened a second office (Harrisonburg) to serve a wider demographic, and moved into a new office space in Charlottesville that is better reflective of our current design values. We survived! We are ready!


The economy is coming back and we have a deep and talented staff ready for the work. The ABI (architectural billing index) is showing signs of sustained growth. The worst of the economic collapse is over. So as you celebrate labor day, we join you. On this day dedicated to the social and economic achievements of the American worker, we salute those that have stood by us in tough economic times. We thank our team, friends, and family for sticking together over the last five years so that we can build a successful future. It has not been easy and probably will not be easy for years to come. Today is a day to celebrate what we have been able to achieve by working together and trusting in each other.

Happy Labor Day!