“The most basic definition of an architect is a professional who is qualified to design and provide advice—both aesthetic and technical—on built objects in our public and private landscapes. But this definition barely scratches the surface of an architect’s role. Architects serve as trusted advisors, their role is holistic, blending diverse requirements and disciplines in a creative process, while serving the public interest and addressing health and safety matters.”—Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC)
Why do I need an architect?
An architect’s education, combining art and technical structure, is the key that allows them to competently take ideas and plans from design to real-world success. Their experience allows them to see spaces and opportunities from many different perspectives by showing you sketches and models to communicate in 3 dimensions how your design is developing. Your architect will know when another specialist is needed, such as a structural engineer, civil engineer and a landscape architect.
When should I hire one?
This depends on the situation, preferably at the start when the ideas for a project are just forming. They can visit the new site you’re considering and help discuss discuss the feasibility of what can be developed there. They’ll know, or find out, the local codes and regulations that will apply to the type of project you want to build, and be able to provide essential advice right from the start.
Are you considering new construction? Do you have a design in mind? Great – bring pictures and any information you have about the site, and they can help you with the next steps. Do you have a remodel in mind? Invite him to the home or building for a site visit and and get their expert opinion.
How much does an architect cost?
Cost depends on the scope of the project and the architect’s fees. Both of you should have a feeling for the project and its reach after the first few or second meeting, and then you can get an idea of the value of the project and the cost.
There are a variety of approaches to fees;
- A percentage of the complete project, 10% to 15% is a common.
- On an hourly basis – this structure, a “not to exceed” dollar limit can be used for each step of the project.
- A flat fee that can be agreed on at the beginning of the project. This is most useful for smaller projects.
How to find the right architect?
It’s important that you like and respect your architect. You will be spending a lot of time with together, sharing your lifestyle and preferences. Interview with them remembering that continued collaboration is essential to a successful end. We recommend hiring local firms who will know more about the area, can recommend contractors and local government requirements.
The AIA, Architects Institute of America, is a professional membership organization that has vetted architects all over the US. In order to be a member, they must have a current license, insurance (good question to ask any perspective before hiring them) and maintain a record of required annual continued education. It’s a good place to start.
- Ask friends and family for their recommendations
- Talk with contractors and real estate agents about who they’ve worked with and would recommend successfully
- Look at projects you like and are similar to your own and find out who designed them
- Meet with several and find who you would like to work with
What should you expect?
A building project has phases that the architect will help guide you through:
Design development; the time to develop the structure’s program and aesthetics. You will meet with the architect and discuss what you want, and advance the ideas to drawings.
Initial drawings and bid phase; These drawings provide enough details for contractors to prepare a bid or estimate. It’s a time to determine the cost of the project, which can be compared to the budget. If the cost is too high, client and architect can revise the project to meet the budget.
Permit drawings; these are a basic set of plans used to apply for a building permit with the local jurisdiction.
Construction drawings; providing more specific and detailed set of drawings that directs the contractor. These drawings will include materials dimensions for cabinets
Construction phase; the architect will be collaborating with the Contractor, and owner during this phase. Someone may come up with different approaches to the design, called value engineering.
Other services that architects provide;
- site design development
- provide sketches and models
- review project for local and state requirements
- provide specifications for cost estimates and ultimately the bidding with contractors
- coordinate with structural, civil and landscape engineers
- interior design
Your architect is a licensed professional, educated in art, engineering and construction. He will help you take your ideas, and develop a design to become a building. From years of training and experience, he will see opportunities to improve the aesthetics of the project, create floor plans for maximum efficiency and make sure the building will be structurally sound. He will collaborate with you, engineers, contractors and local regulators for a successful project.
Want to know more about our process? Send an email or give us a call and we discuss what you need and how we can help.