Why Use an Architect?
A Wise Investment. The architect's services are a wise investment for the money, not an added cost to your project. Why? Because a well-conceived project can be built more efficiently and economically. Because seeking competitive bids with the architect's drawings will ultimately save you money. Because one design idea may save thousands… for example an architect may find more efficient ways to use your existing spaces thereby reducing the size and cost of proposed additions, or they may recommend a less expensive material that can achieve the same goals as what was originally planned.
Design Tailored to your Specific Needs. An architect is trained to listen carefully to your project requirements, needs, wants, dreams, budget, etc. and translate this information into a design that will accomplish all of your project goals. Good architectural design can improve your life by providing spaces that are comfortable, functional, energy efficient, and environmentally friendly.
Here is a common scenario for residential projects. You are thinking of renovating your home so you call in several different contractors. Contractor A gives you one price based on his set of ideas and Contractor B gives you another price based on his set of ideas. How do you know if you are comparing apples to apples? If you work with an architect, you can ask each contractor to bid on the exact same set of plans and specifications that are tailored to your specific needs.
Architects Education, Licensing, and Unique Qualifications. Don't leave it up to a contractor, draftsman or home designer to design spaces that you conduct your daily life around. Architects are uniquely qualified in building design. They must meet specific education and professional standards to obtain and maintain licensure in the jurisdictions that they practice.
An architect's signed and sealed drawings may be required to obtain building permits on residential projects in certain jurisdictions. Commercial projects typically require an architect's signed and sealed drawings for permitting. It is best to check with the building officials in the jurisdiction in which you are planning your project. Even if an architect's signed and sealed drawings are not required, it is still recommended that you seek the architect's services. An architect's professionally prepared set of plans will go a long way in helping you expedite building permits and obtain accurate bid pricing. Today's building codes and permitting requirements are more complicated than ever. An architect can help you navigate through this complex design, permitting, and construction process.
Solving Design Problems in Creative Ways. Most building projects start with a want or a need such as...“We've outgrown our house!” But how does that need or want get translated into square feet and three-dimensional space? That is what architects are trained to do; solve problems in creative ways. With their broad knowledge of design and construction, architects can show you alternatives and options you might never think of on your own.
More Reasons to Hire an Architect
- Architects plan your projects with you. As your ideas evolve, changes can be made on paper - much less expensively than later on when construction is underway.
- Architects can prepare thorough construction drawings which make it easier for the contractor to accurately price and build your project.
- An Architect can help you choose materials and finishes that are durable as well as beautiful, saving on frequent maintenance and replacement costs.
- Energy efficient buildings can save you money on fuel bills down the road. An architect can design a building to maximize heating from the sun and let in natural light, thus reducing your heating, cooling, and electric bills over time.
- Because good design sells! A well-designed house or building will be more attractive to potential buyers and have a higher resale value.
Let's face it, building is a long process that is often messy and disruptive, particularly if you are living and working in the space under construction. The architect you hire looks out for your interests and tries to find ways to make that process go smoothly. If your project requires engineering or other design services, the architect can coordinate this team of experts so you don't have to. The architect sorts out complex building codes and zoning laws. The architect can help you find qualified construction contractors based on your requirements. The architect can act as your onsite advocate and visit the construction site to verify that the project is being built according to your plans and specifications.
Video Information About Architects
Glossary of Terms
Green or sustainable design refers the important practice of creating architecture that is friendly to both the environment and the end user. Buildings can be certified to different levels of energy and environmental efficiency under various programs such as "LEED" / Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, ICC-700 / National Green Building Standard, Energy Star and others. The main concepts of sustainable design include the following brief examples:
- Energy Efficient Design - Starts with a tight, well-insulated building envelope.
- Water Use Efficiency - Use of water efficient plumbing fixtures and possible rain water collection system.
- Healthy Building Interiors - Use of non-toxic materials and mechanical systems to maintain desired indoor air quality.
- Reduced Waste Production - Use of “Smart Framing” or prefab off-site production of building components.
- Locally Obtained & Sustainable Materials - Use of local materials reduce pollution due to transportation.
- Building Siting & Integration with Landscape - Siting the building to take advantage of solar orientation and use of native plant materials.
The term "Design/Build" generally refers to having the Architect and the Builder on the same team working together with the client from the initial design stages through completion of construction. This differs from the more traditional project delivery method of design/bid/build where the architectural design and construction are split into separate entities. Some of the advantages of Design/Build are outlined below.
- Through collaborative project management, work can be completed faster with fewer problems.
- An integrated project team is geared towards efficiency and innovation.
- Communication between Architect and Builder is streamlined.
- Construction budgets better inform the process at various design stages.
- The combination of the Builder and Architect's vast construction knowledge will lead to attractive, well-thought-out designs that can be built efficiently, on time, and on budget.
On most residential projects Architects fees can range from 4% to 8% of the total construction cost, depending on project complexity and various services needed. Additional fees may apply if construction contract administration services are required.