Ten Reasons to Hire a Residential Architect

I wrote this for an article several years ago and still find it to be a good guide for clients in discussing the value of hiring an Architect.

1. Get ideas! An architect applies a lifetime of practical, historical and design knowledge to your project. Present the Architect with a clear idea of what you want, but let the Architect show you how to achieve it. You will be surprised by the variety of solutions that are possible.

2. Develop a Concept: An Architect will help integrate your ideas and develop a coherent concept that pulls the project together. Share the sketch plans, photographs and wish lists you have gathered for your project with the Architect. An Architect will help you review and modify those plans and wish lists to produce a concept that improves on your original vision. The concept for your project can be a simple ordering principal of horizontal and vertical lines that make up the building façade. The shape of the building may define an exterior courtyard. The building may fit closely to the topography of the site. A detail or set of details on the existing home may be exaggerated on a new addition. Whatever the concept for your project is it will help define a design in which everything comes together.

3. Is the Project Realistic? Consult with an Architect early in the process to determine if the project is realistic based on codes, zoning, size budget etc. By being involved early in the process, an Architect can help direct your project to a successful conclusion.

4. Prepare preliminary designs: Before incurring the expense of preparing complete construction documents, for filing with the building department and contractor bidding have an Architect prepare preliminary designs. The initial (schematic) designs will show you what is possible with your project. The Architect can then provide construction budget estimates for the schematic designs that will help determine the next steps for your project.

5. Cost: The costs of Architectural services are a small fraction of the total cost of a building project. A good Architect often saves the Owner a sum much larger than his fee. Paper and computer walls are far cheaper to modify than wood and masonry walls.

6. Construction Budget: Develop a realistic construction budget for your project. Architects are familiar with local construction costs and can help determine preliminary budgets with contingencies for your project. As the Architect develops a design, the budget can be refined to reflect the specific character and details of the project.

7. Reducing Construction Cost: The reduction of construction cost is often viewed in terms of lowering material and labor costs. However, the biggest savings can come from only building what you need. An architect will help you decide what you need and the most cost effective way to achieve it.

8. Environment: Your new building will be in harmony with your property (land). Well-designed architecture compliments the natural environment. Besides knowing local zoning ordinances and building codes an Architect will design a home or addition that takes advantage of and compliments the natural features of you property.

9. Value added: Your addition or alteration will compliment and enhance the existing style of your home. Whether your home is colonial, contemporary, Victorian or a combination of styles an Architect will be familiar with each of those styles and will prepare designs that enhance and add value to your home and the neighborhood. That value eventually transfers to sale price that you can obtain for your home.

10. Think Green: Design green to build green. A green home, addition or alteration is smaller and consumes fewer resources to build, maintain, heat and cool. An architect can help you design an efficient, beautiful and sustainable project. See my blog post “Green Building for Residential Projects” for more on this subject.

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