Why You Should Hire An Architect
Rarely do people realize how complicated and time consuming a building project can be until it’s too late and nothing has gone right. By hiring an Architect, you will benefit from the expertise of someone trained to get the most out of your space and your budget. Hiring an Architect is not without cost, but they are paid to make your vision a reality, often times saving you money, and creating spaces that are even more inspiring then you could imagine.
Architecture is a licensed profession. Architects spend years acquiring the education and training necessary to help you make the best decisions during the design and construction process. It goes beyond functionality because they think holistically about creating a home or a space that enriches the client’s desired lifestyle. By hiring an Architect you can save a lot of hassle on your project, make life easier, and end up with a result that meets your needs and your budget. Architects are trained to solve problems in creative ways and can make square footage work in ways you would never have considered. The placement of a door, window or walls can alter, change, enhance, or ruin your room design. A professional architect will know how to make all these things work together to achieve the desired outcome. They also understand the importance of elements such as natural light.
Do You Need an Architect
Some municipalities require a licensed architect, be sure to verify that the Architect you select is registered in the state where you are building. A call to your local town office or planning department will clarify the requirements in your area. Additionally, the zoning codes of many municipalities specify a number of requirements that must be followed when building a new structure or adding on or remodeling an existing structure. Architects are qualified to review these requirements and prepare the necessary documents for approval. Knowing these design restrictions prior to starting a project can remove a lot of headache and disappointment when you realize you can’t building your dream home on your piece of property due to a town or city restriction. Clients rarely understand the amount of time the Architect dedicates to verifying all the requirements are met in order to provide a successful project.
What Do I Need To Know When I’m Selecting an Architect
Chemistry is key when choosing an Architect since you will be spending a lot of time together and sharing a great deal of your own personal information during the process. Architects often specialize in certain types of building, and are not all equally great in all fields, so you should select an Architect that matches your desired interests. Ask for referrals. Find projects similar to your own and ask to visit the job site or home. If you can speak with the client, ask them about their experience and if there were any issues that you need to be made aware of before you hire this Architect. Review their professional credentials and call all the references that they provide. Just like reading reviews, not everyone will have the same reaction or care about the same things that you do, so ask questions and do your homework. I offer an initial one-hour consultation for free to all of my potential clients because it is important to assess whether the Architect is able to listen to your ideas and offer creative and financially feasible solutions to your problems. It is important to determine if you are able to connect with the Architect, prior to hiring them to design your home. Ask how fees will be structured so there are no surprises down the road for fees that added up during the course of the project. A job can be priced as a fixed figure, a percentage of total construction costs, or on an hourly time and materials basis. Make sure all elements of the contract are clearly spelled out in writing and that you agree to the terms. You can always modify the scope of work and add or subtract from the project as your ideas and budgets are developed. I always ask my clients to provide photos of buildings they like from magazines and other sources. The architect should accommodate your lifestyle and specific space requirements. I also have a questionnaire that I provide with my initial consultation package that asks my clients to identify how they want to feel in their spaces, which spaces need to access the outdoors, and how they intend to use the space. Every client is different and every home should be unique.
Design is a process of inquiry. The question in this phase is what to build – in the planning and programming phase, we meet with clients to discuss their ideas and goals for the project. This can often include a program, a questionnaire on how they want the space to look, feel, or perform. It also includes discussion on budget, integrated design, and sustainability features.
Moving from what to build to how to build is the fun part! Schematic design is where your Architect takes your concepts and turns them into reality. Where the first design moves are a graphic sketch or an outline. A plan of action and the framework for the rest of the design process. It provides the Architect with the opportunity to sit down with the client and define goals and set the program or criteria.
Design development is where the Architect will now take your project from a concept to a framed set of issues that will speak to the final outcome of the project. During design development the Architect will spend time doing data collection, site analysis, location and placement. We start to delve into the details of daylighting, sunlight, passive and active systems within the home, while creating drawings and diagrams that document the changing wind and light patterns over the course of the day, month, and year. All of these elements begin to give form and function to your project.
Now that a thorough analysis of the priorities, site, and program have been achieved, a structure must be created to transition the space between two environments: Inside and Outside. A detailed investigation on structure, envelope and materials, insulation, climate control, and integration from the largest to the most minute scale are taken into account to provide a set of drawings that a contractor can build from.
Bidding & Negotiation:
If you don’t come to the project with a contractor, or you’re simply not sure how to move from design to construction, the Architect can help you put your project out for competitive bids, evaluate the contractors based on skill, experience, or price. And help you to select a contractor to work with to build your dream project. Some clients have their own contractors, or prefer to have the Architect make a selection and bring the contractor in early in the design to help establish budget and a fully integrated design. In these cases a client may select a contractor based on similar project experience, merit, or skill.
Once a set of construction documents has been produced, the roll of the Architect can be much less. The Architect can act as project manager and be on site weekly to manage the construction process, or an on call relationship can be developed where the Contractor or Homeowner can call the Architect when a change needs to be made. In renovation projects it is often crucial for the Architect to remain a part of the process weekly to handle unforseen conditions.
Architects are versatile individuals who enjoy all parts of design and construction. Some clients like to include the Architect in everything down to the selection of kitchen hardware, furniture, and paint colors. The tiny little details of a design or remodel project are often the most time consuming and confusing. Having the Architect’s services to help narrow down selections often helps to provide more cohesive solutions to space and function.