If you are looking into rehabilitating a historic home, plan to build an office building, planning a site to create a public outdoor space, or any work involving changing of structure or adding to it even in the form of landscaping, you may be asking – Do I need an Architect?
With most construction projects, budget is the top most concern. Although hiring an architect adds to the cost of the project, working with an architect will often lower overall expenses by foreseeing potentially expensive pitfalls even before work has begun.
Q: How can an architect assist me to achieve my goals?
After first meeting to exchange ideas between architect and client, the architect can refine and translate your personal requirements into a preliminary drawing. Architects being considerate of land conservation and familiar with applicable building codes and zoning regulations, can strategize for the most advantageous design solution.
Architects can create a complete set of construction documents(drawings) and specify the materials going into the project in detail, making it possible for many building contractors to submit bids on the project.
The architect acts as your “agent” during the bidding phase to assist you in evaluating the bids received and helping to select a building contractor(s).
Architects monitor through the construction phase, protecting your interests, by documenting that your project is being constructed in accordance with the approved final construction documents and specifications.
Q: What services do architects provide?
Projects evolve through phases:
1. Preliminary or schematic design - The architect will define and review your requirements, study the site, then make preliminary sketches illustrating the scope of the project and its relationship to the site and its surroundings, and review these with you.
2. Design development - As the design takes shape, each aspect is considered, revised as necessary and refined until all concerned are in agreement. Now the design is essentially complete, and with approvals, the next phase can begin.
3. Construction documentation/Specifications - Based on documents developed and approved in the previous phase, the architect will prepare construction drawings in sufficient detail to describe the work to be done to construct your project. Discussions with one or more contractors may proceed during this phase if a negotiated contract is desired, or, upon completion of documents, the work may be bid.
4. Bidding or negotiations - If desired, the architect will assist in securing bids or negotiated proposals for construction.
5. Construction administration - The architect may observe the construction as your representative to insure that the work is completed as designed, and to deal with any changes that may arise.
Often I hear this expressed as “Why should I hire an Architect?!! I’ve already got my design figured out. All I need is for someone to draw up the plans and stamp it!”
Often this sentiment comes from a very understandable desire to save money. Why should you pay someone for expertise and time you don’t feel you need? You’ve already got your layout and colors picked out. You know how much square footage will fit on your site. You know how many people you want to house there. So what’s the problem? Why do you need this added expense?
More often than not, however, this sentiment stems from a basic misconception of what Architects actually do.
Yes, if we care about aesthetics at all, we care about how the building looks. We care that your interiors are attractive and comfortable. We even care that you get a good value for your money. And yes, if you ask us, we draw up the plans, stamp and sign them, and submit them to the Building Department for your permit. But that is only a portion of what we do. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes while we are producing that stamped drawing….
"Well, I took drafting…."
A very small part of what your architect does for you is drawing. Drafting, either by hand or with the aid of a computer, is merely the communications form. It doesn’t produce the content.
It can’t be said enough: Drawing for you is a very small part of what an architect can, and should do for you. The main focus of an architect’s work is on preserving and enhancing the Public Health, Safety, and Welfare. That’s why the Building Department requires stamped drawings.