If you’re a typical homeowner, who loves their home and has plans to make it the home of your dreams one day, then you’re probably hard at work with sights set on a beautiful renovation. The notion of transforming your home can be energizing, therapeutic, simply uplifting, but it can also be intimidating. On the one hand you’re thinking about the budget, on the other hand you’re thinking about logistics and wondering how to get started.
You might be contemplating a simple kitchen and bathroom upgrade, or you might be thinking about the kind of renovation that breathes life into your entire home and invigorates you every time you pull in the driveway or walk into your apartment. Either way, you realize that there are a variety of decisions to make that will have an impact on you and your family’s quality of life. Often these choices involve your hard earned savings, and with the right decisions your renovation can be both fulfilling and become an investment. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you navigate the process – even at the very early stages – with an architect at your side.
Being architects ourselves we know that we sound biased, and in this case we agree that we are, but with good reason. And it has nothing to do with $$$. As you’ll see below, hiring an architect may be the cheapest path toward the home of your dreams.
Most folks associate architects with expensive projects and decide to consult a contractor first when contemplating a project. The fact is that most architects are running multiple projects at one time and are very familiar with the potential costs of construction. By contacting an architect first, you can discuss design options – including new ideas that you may not have considered – and their associated costs. Often times, this type of discussion can occur in the initial consultation or visit which is normally free of charge. If you move forward with the architect, then you’ll have access to his or her list of reliable contractors who will be very happy to competitively bid your project. More to the point, an architect may cost a small percentage of the overall construction cost, however, our clients have experienced savings of 20% or more when competitively bidding their projects.
Additionally, contractors love it when homeowners hire an architect. Primarily because an architect will provide a set of plans and specifications that allow a contractor, and it’s subs, to work more smoothly, and in most cases, with a good set of plans there will be less change orders. In the world of construction, less change orders = happy clients, and every contractor wants a happy client.
By helping to establish a budget, by navigating a competitive bidding process, and by reducing change orders, it’s safe to say that in most cases architects will save their clients considerably more than their fee will cost.
- Approvals and Process
When most people think of what architects do, they typically think of their big ideas, their detailed drawings, and beautiful materials and finishes. However, at the core of every good project is a coordinated arrangement of engineering systems that are affordable, safe, and meet the building code. Striking a balance between aesthetic beauty, your budget, and code compliance, is no easy task. In addition to developing a design that will be approved by your local building department, an architect will prepare most of the necessary paperwork and documents that will be required to obtain a construction permit. In many cases, a good set of plans and forms can reduce the overall timeline of a project before and during construction by weeks or even months.
- Making the Magic Happen
When working with an architect you have at your side the person who knows your project best. He or she is fully aware of your vision, the goals of your project, and all of the details that are necessary to make it happen. Contractors will naturally have many questions, inquiring about everything between paint colors to details of your HVAC system. An architect will help provide the information that is needed to build what you’ve envisioned together and in parallel with your owner-contractor agreement.
- Supervision and Staying on Schedule
Architects are obligated to provide a legal Standard of Care throughout the entirety of your project. Generally this includes periodic on-site supervision of your construction project. The bottom line is that with periodic inspections the architect will ascertain that the contractor is building according to the plans and that you are receiving the quality of materials and workmanship that you’re entitled to. Another benefit of frequent inspections by the architect is that mistakes in construction can be identified in time to take corrective action at a reasonable cost.
The possible opportunities to be green will vary from project, but most architects are working on sustainable buildings and can offer ideas to make your project last longer and be more efficient in years to come. While you may not be considering a largely sustainable project, small details like selecting the right water heater, thermostat, or material can have a big impact on the longevity and performance of your project.
These are just a few of the many reasons to work with an architect. If you’re still not sure, and are considering a project, try giving one a call – it can’t hurt!