Any good architect will save you money – not least because a superb design will add value to the finished house. This is just one of the reasons why industry professionals are often hired by high-class developers to put together plans.
While architects are mostly associated with their ability to produce stylish homes, it’s just as important that they have a thorough knowledge of construction methods and the workings of a building site.
Plus, part of their job is to reduce potential risks to the budget by anticipating and avoiding them before they occur. They can often help you to save cash when it comes to specifying products and materials for your scheme, too.
We are often asked if we think architecture or being an architect is “worth it”, and whether you have, or currently are studying the subject, given the time it takes just to be qualified, let alone the roller coaster ride of actually working within the profession, it is not surprising it is such a popular question.
But first, let’s define “worth it”. As a student “worth it” to us was getting the most out of being a student, and this means enjoying your subject as well as having a social life. As a professional, being paid enough to live a comfortable lifestyle and being able to say “I enjoy my job” are key.
So does architecture provide this? Is it worth it? The short answer is yes, its a creative, diverse and ever-changing subject and profession that provides a huge array of opportunities and avenues to explore.
To date, it has been an absolute pleasure to study the subject and work within it as a qualified professional. It’s not, however, half in half out subject or profession, it takes time and perseverance to reap the rewards.
If you’re like most homeowners, you probably dream of one day completing a major home remodelling project. And I’m not talking about retiling a tub here. This is the once-in-a-lifetime renovation–the kind that dramatically changes how you live, energizes the entire household, and makes all the neighbours jealous.
Perhaps your dream is to build a two-story addition with a family room below and a master bedroom and bath above. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to expand the kitchen and install French doors leading to a wraparound deck. Regardless of what your dream entails, all major remodelling projects can benefit from the expert design help of an experienced, licensed architect.
I know what you’re thinking: Architects are way too expensive and only necessary when building multimillion-dollar homes–and last week’s economic roller coaster isn’t helping any. The truth is, architects are well worth the extra cost on large remodelling jobs because, with thoughtful evaluation and design, they can meet–and often exceed–your expectations. Depending on the size or complexity of the remodelling, calling in an architect might be the only way to get the project off the ground, and to ensure your dream comes true. At MJS Construction Group, we have the best dual occupancy selection to make your house a dream come true
The Role Of The Architect
We found that architects can—but won’t necessarily—handle a range of responsibilities in a renovation. We didn’t realize how big that range could be, and so we failed to talk through our expectations or hers. If we could get a do-over on choosing an architect, we’d discuss these options during interviews, and then build a shared set of expectations into the contract and budget. Here are some of the services they might perform:
Drafting the plans.
This is probably the main thing you think of when you picture an architect. Indeed, the technical drawings are key. Developing them gives the architect a chance to help you flesh out ideas—in our case, adding a small wall in the bedroom gave us room for a king-size bed—and set realistic expectations (a walk-in closet couldn’t be converted to an office and a half bath). Plus, the completed drawings will provide the basis for permits, and they’ll guide the contractors on site.
Do you want interesting visual elements? More light than the floorplan seems to allow? Secret storage areas? An architect can bake some special elements into the drawings, and more might emerge during the renovation as you learn about, say, a wall that’s four inches thicker than it needs to be, giving you room to add shallow built-ins.
Advising on fixtures and finishes.
“Fixtures and finishes” is a grab-bag term that includes paint, tile, flooring, countertops, kitchen cabinets, faucets, lighting, doorknobs, appliances, and more. If you’re working with an architect and a designer, the designer will be the point person for recommending fixtures and finishes. If you don’t have a designer (we didn’t), that layer is between you and the architect.
Choosing and managing the contractor.
A good architect will have and want to maintain, relationships with several reputable contractors. So they should be able to recommend a few to bid on your project. The architect should also know what the contractor can do and should lean on them a bit if they’re falling short. For instance, is the slight misalignment of the kitchen cabinets normal or fixable? If it’s fixable, the architect should sort that out with the contractor.
Managing the project.
Renovations have many moving parts: there are permits and people to coordinate, plus fixtures and finishes to order and track. While the contractor handles some of this, the architect can be the point person, helping you understand deadlines for items you’re ordering, finding specialized sub-contractors beyond the general contractor’s network, and keeping things moving with permitting and processes that fall outside the general scope of work (like lead abatement).
Making suggestions to keep the project on time.
This is a subset of managing the project, but getting help with the timeframe can also be something you designate as a priority. Beyond staying on top of the contractor and other players, an architect’s responsibilities might include recommending attractive finishes that can be delivered quickly and helping you understand which pieces you can reasonably have done after you move in.
Making suggestions to keep the budget in check.
An architect’s assistance here can include suggesting appealing, cheaper alternatives to pricey finishes you like; recommending features worth spending on and places to save, and helping you anticipate costs you might not be aware of. (Note: Time equals money—if you’re paying to rent somewhere else and you’re paying the mortgage for the place under construction, that dual housing cost can lead to big-budget overruns if the renovation falls behind the deadline.)
While our architect drew up decent plans, helped us find several contractors who bid on our project and was pretty good at managing the one we chose, she disappointed us on every other front. To cap it off, her fee turned out to be more expensive than we’d accounted for.
In retrospect, it’s clear that when we were searching for an architect, we didn’t ask the right questions to find one who could meet our needs.
Things You Need To Know Before Hiring An Architect
Hiring an outside professional in any capacity takes a certain amount of open-mindedness, however, when you’re considering hiring an architect, you must understand the flexibility required in projects. Architects are trained professionals who have spent years studying building codes, interior and exterior design, and structural integrity etc.…Architects are hired on with a wealth of knowledge to contribute, so be willing to listen and take their expert advice. Having a clear understanding of what you want for final results will only help, but being open to professional suggestions will create a smooth path to successful project completion.
Take Timeline Into Consideration
Architects have to have the pieces in place before they begin, which means work won’t begin immediately. A timeline will have to be established initially, and you may not like the length of that time frame. In addition, issues such as building rights must be determined before your project can truly take off. Please expect variations in this timeline to accommodate great work in the end, but it is a lengthy process with lots of hoops to jump through. Remodelling or building a home requires a lot of well-planned time constraints if you plan to hire a pro, do your research first and allow yourself and your contractor enough time to do the job correctly.
Balance The Budget Beforehand
Hiring professional help does cost, and hiring an architect is no exception to the rule. To avoid delays or confusion along the way, be sure to have your budgetary requirements set from the start. Discuss these with the architect and ask if he/she can work within those constraints. It is also important to be very clear about where you draw limits and how the project will be paid out. Remember, keep realistic expectations about the time the project will take, as this can affect the budget.
Learn From The Long Term
No matter how anxious you are to get a project completed, a good professional architect will consider the long-term. You want the project to last, without having to put more money into it; you want a classic home that is not filled with trendy ideas that will fizzle in the future. Expect some suggestions that might help your project today, but could also increase building value and flexibility for the future. Be sure that your architect is the pro who knows all about structural integrity and assures you a sound home for years to come.
Ask Around For A Great Architect
If an architect is truly invested in your project, you’ll likely be working closely with that person for an extended amount of time. This means it’s important that you feel comfortable as a professional team. You need to feel comfortable with this person and feel your needs/wants will be safe in their hands. Be sure to ask around and get recommendations before you hire someone on, and ask for photos of past work. Understanding how the architect has worked for someone in the past can give you realistic expectations for your project and working relationship. Finding the right duplex build is an important decision. Check out our range of the best home design constructions at MJS Construction Group.
Sometimes It Takes A-Team
Depending on how involved your assignment is, the architect you hire may require more minds and hands to help accomplish the final goal. This means hiring more than one person or possibly an entire architecture firm—in turn, costing you more money. Don’t be surprised by the team effort that might be heading your way in the near future if you decide to hire an architect. This idea makes it especially important to hire someone you trust, as they often choose their team of experts. It’s best to research all the parties involved and make sure they meet your strict criteria.
It Will Get Messy
Architects are in the business of building; however, demolishing inevitably precedes the creation. This means things can get messy. Be sure to discuss the demolition process and how your residence will be affected and protected before the project starts. Will you have to move out for a while (causing your budget to be blown)? Will there be early morning noise interruptions? When do they end their workday? All of these things should be considered. Here are some suggested questions for every architect you plan to hire.
Change You Can Count On
While initial conversations with a hired architect may seem set in stone, professionals understand that many things can change along the way. You’ll want to discuss how you’ll deal with changes contractually before work begins. Will the architect always be sure to discuss new plans right away before engaging them? Also, be sure he/she will always ask about changes in the budget before changing plans. This will help you avoid stress or project roadblocks. An architect that doesn’t agree to a process for change may not be your best bet when it comes to hiring.
Creating Lines Of Communication
Before you ever sign a contract, be sure you are able to establish a clear line of communication with your architect. Clear communication is the ultimate key to a successful project. Understanding acceptable times to be in contact and creating a regular schedule for updates is essential to keeping a project on track and your working relationship successful. It also reduces stress between you and your architect.
Dedication To The Details
Architects are generally creative minds, but they are also business-oriented; therefore, it’s expected that the contracts will be full of details as well as the documentation. It’s important to get on board with the idea of strict documentation to protect both yourself and your architect before you decide to hire on. Once everything is in writing, both parties are more secure and feel safe to proceed with plans. Depending on the job at hand, there can be a lot of details to work out before a project begins, so be patient and don’t rush it. A rushed job is never a successful job.
Architects Can Save You Money
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, architects plan your project with you. As your ideas evolve, changes can be made on paper much less expensively than later on when construction is underway. Thorough drawings also make it easier for the contractor to price and build your project accurately.
- Because 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 the architect can work with your budget and help you select the appropriate materials and workmanship at a fair price, architects develop the drawings and specifications to help you get bids for construction that are based on your requirements.
- Because an architect can help you choose materials and finishes that are durable as well as beautiful, saving on frequent maintenance and replacement costs. Architects work to stay abreast of advances in roofing, brickwork, floor tiling, paint finishes, etc. Their familiarity with the full range of materials enables them to suggest the appropriate materials for your project.
- Because good design sells, a well-designed house has a higher resale value. A well-designed store draws customers. A well-designed work environment attracts employees and increases productivity.
Architects Can Make Your Life Easier
Let’s face it, and the building is a long process that is often messy and disruptive, particularly if you are living or 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. Planning for a new look for your house? Look no further! MJS Construction Group is here to help in your home builders.
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 visits the construction site to help verify that the project is being built according to plans and specifications.
Is It Worth The Money?
The idea that architects are always expensive is a myth. There are a few top individuals who command daunting fees and are only appropriate for wealthy clients. However, the reality is that most of us make a modest living.
To put it into context, surveys of average income consistently show that ordinary members of the profession earn less than many other construction specialists – 10% less than a bricklayer or scaffolder and less annually than a plumber.
Architects could seem expensive because you’re not buying something solid that goes into your home, like bricks or a boiler; instead, you’re getting time and skill, which are hard to quantify.
A potential client recently explained to me her doubts about how to choose a designer because she wouldn’t know if she was getting good value for money until the work was well underway.
All I could say is that she should look at previous projects, talk to the people who commissioned them and then decide who she considered the most competent and trustworthy.
The fee has to be competitive, but cost-effectiveness will depend on how well the chosen professional do their job. The right firm for her will easily cover the costs, as well as delivering a wonderful home.