Why hire an architect?

written by Melissa R. Hutchinson, AIA of MH Architect, LLC

You may have a fairly good idea of what you want/need in your upcoming home renovation or new house construction project and hiring an architect seems like an extra expense that will just take away from valuable project dollars … so why hire an architect?

Great question. Here are several reasons why hiring a registered and experienced professional is valuable to you:

1. Communicating your ideas to a contractor verbally without drawings is a recipe for disaster. Drawings are the language of building. In order for a contractor to accurately bid or price a project, he needs to clearly understand the scope of work (everything that will be included). Construction documents are contractual drawings that communicate the design intent as well as the building materials and type of construction. Before entering into a contract with a general contractor, it is essential that you both have a clear understanding of what the project fee includes. Drawings assure that both parties clearly understand the project and that your thoughts are clearly communicated in a graphic format.

2. You may have a fairly good idea of what you’re looking for, but you may not have been asking all the right questions. Architects work with you to understand the functionality of your daily routine and the ins-and-outs of your specific family dynamic.They offer configurations and amenities that facilitate efficient and functional daily activities, while seeking to find the joy in our daily living. Architects are trained to maximize space, reduce waste, and take full advantage of a site’s natural characteristics.

3. Are you having a hard time finding an on-line architectural plan that suits your needs? There’s a reason. Each client, each site, each use presents its own unique set of challenges. There is no magic floor plan.  Good building responds to the given site characteristics: solar orientation, views, access, landscape/grading, wind patterns, climate, etc.  Then the architect factors in the project “program”, the necessities that need to be accommodated for this particular client.  The program tells us how large the building needs to be and how the spaces should relate to one other. With this number of variables, we will never see the same design twice.

4. A good architect can add value to the project. Through education and experience, the architect can offer sound advice that can facilitate the speed and cost of construction. Lines on paper are easy to move during the design stage, while walls and building components are very expensive to modify during the construction build-out. In addition, the architect’s fee may be much more affordable that you think … and getting a proposal is free.

5. Architects often have a very good working knowledge of local contractors and can help find the “right fit” match between the Client and General Contractor. They can assist during the bidding process to make sure that the bidders are qualified, that they are comparing “apples-to-apples” and that they can meet the needs of the client and project.

So consider the benefits an architect can bring to the table. You may be missing out on some key factors of your “dream home” by not seeking professional advice.  There is a right-fit architect out there that can help you to realize your vision efficiently and effectively. You may rest a little easier during the design and construction process knowing that you have an experienced advocate on your side who has taken the time to understand your specific needs.