"Why Hire an Architect"
Steven Clipp, Architect | May 2016 Issue
Really, why use an Architect? They just make your project more complicated and costly. Besides you have to pay them and that money could be spent on a fancier stove.
Here are four reasons:
You have to pull a Building Permit and someone has to do the drawings.
A smoother experience with less bumps.
Greater cost control.
Better results, a better home.
Let us start with the mundane, you need a permit to alter your home or to increase it in any way. Insurance and Mortgage Companies will ask to see the permits for all improvements when a house is sold. Not having them can kill the sale. Homeowners Associations also want to see drawings. For the same work an Architect is often the same cost as the alternative providers. As a bonus your outcome will benefit from the design expertise the Architect brings to the table.
But the drawings are a small part of the value the Architect brings to your project. Managing the flow of the project is as important. First, by facilitating the decisions about what to do, exploring the options and mediating discussion between spouses. It is not unusual for a couple to spend a year knowing they need to act, to fix their home, and unable to agree on a direction or conceive of a solution.
Then the Architect pushes the timeline, introducing Contractors into the process and setting expectations. All along the Architect is guiding the Owners in the hundreds of decisions they need to make to complete the work. All along the Architect is massaging the communication between the Owner and Contractor to control cost and facilitate a smooth construction process.
Yes, the Architect works to control cost. True, we often increase the scope of work because we see the overall picture. Perhaps we advocate to upgrade the siding on your house while adding the screen porch or to correct the awkward entry into the bathroom in addition to replacing the fixtures / finishes. Still, for each item purchased the Architect works to get a better price. The Architect is the only person involved in your construction that does not make a direct commission on the items purchased and has no incentive to up-sell – except if that wow! front door is worth the premium.
When you have a full set of plans and specifications, you have the ability to seek competitive pricing from multiple Contractors. In my work I expect to lock in a fixed price up front that is at least ten percent less than the Owner would otherwise have paid for the job. During construction clear directions / less ambiguity means less potential for monetary surprises.
In monetary terms construction is an on-going negotiation between the Owner and the Contractor. In any negotiation the party with the greater knowledge wins. The seasoned Architect has at least as much knowledge of construction as the Contractor. When he acts as the Owner’s advocate the playing field is leveled to the Owner’s benefit.
Finally, the greatest benefit from an Architect’s involvement in your project is a better outcome. The seasoned Architect has a formally trained artistic design background and has spent decades learning what makes a well-functioning kitchen – with flair. How often have you seen huge money spent on the latest equipment and finishes only to have the outcome be mundane? How often have you seen a pricy addition that just didn’t quite fit the original house?
Good design is so much more than the sum of its parts. It is an understanding of how to make spaces flow and light dance. How to make spaces warm and comforting. How to bring families together and give each member their special identity. How to create joy and love in a home. These are the stars Architects reach for, and sometimes achieve.
If you are considering remodeling, give me a call. An initial consult starts with your dreams / your goals. I will give you a range of possible solutions, from the straight forward to the never-would-have-thought-of. The more you know the better your decisions.