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Why Hire an Architect

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When you plan to build any type of a Building, whether  Home Addition or  Highrise Building you need to have it designed.

Before building a Commercial Building a Property Owner will  look for an Architect to provide the design. For Developers it is a natural choice.  They understand Building Industry Process really well.    Most of the Home Owners  and Small Businesses however, get involved in  construction projects very sporadically, if at all. So what is a typical path they take?   Considering a potential Project they  often enquire about  design services with a Contractor friend or a Contractor recommended by someone.

Sometimes when a small business Owner of, for instance,  a Pre-School, needs to develop a property to house this use, approaches a contractor first or even worse a Real Estate Agent to “figure out” how to go about getting the Project done.

Others try to find a Building Designer, Interior Designer or a Draftsperson to prepare drawings.   It is often driven by myths that Architect’s services are too expensive for a small project, or that they may not want to do a small job, or that they over design, etc, etc.

Well, sometimes some of the above individuals can  provide you with design services.   These services however are restricted by the State Jurisdiction, to small scale projects such as home remodels, kitchen design, garage conversions, new home design or residential additions.

Some of these designers or Contractors endeavor to try Tenant Improvement design Work…..Their services are seemingly less expensive because drawings are offered for “free”, with expectation of the construction contract award from the outset.  Inexperienced Consumer, presented  with such a “carrot” has a hard time to refuse this “great” proposition, specially looking from the proverbial “dollar” standpoint.   Keep in mind that the Contractor is not a design professional, nor is he trained as one.

A good, responsible and reasonable Contractor would refer an Architect to a potential Client for any design work. It is only fair to a consumer. Basically when you have a feaver you look for a doctor not a Chef.  So why would you look for someone other than Architect to design your Project?.

Architects provide Design Services.  They are professionals trained in the science and art of Architectural Design in Colleges.  Their training and their State Licensing allows them to design Buildings, Cities, Bridges, Building Complexes, Room Additions, Home Remodels, etc, etc….

Why than there is, sometimes, among some, a bit of a disconnect or apprehension to reach out to the Architect for design services?

Lets study all this:

CONTRACTORS:

What do they do and what are they trained to do?

  • Contractors Build Buildings from Plans Prepared by Architects and Engineers.
  • Contractors are trained in field or in vocational schools (some in colleges) in handling and managing Buildng Processes.
  • Contractors are trained to manage workers and the work on site.
  • Contractor requires specific personality to be able to run the job successfully.
  • During many years of building, Contractors get in contact with various solutions to building functionality and material uses that are depicted on architects’ plans-but it does not make them designers.
  • Contractors are licensed by the State Board to perform Construction Services – Not Design Services.
  • Contractor’s  primary function is to generate revenue at the least cumbersome way to them.
  • Contractors (who know building industry) can be an invaluable resource for  material, labor costs and great for some practical approaches to construction delivery.
  • Contractors designing your project may have a conflict of interest and in a way would drive, revenue wise, the project away from goals you may have design wise.

Points to consider:

  • Some Contractors do not like constraints of Architects’ drawings.
  • Some others think they can do a better design job (???) .
  • Often there are contractors who need a Construction Project and rather than bidding a job try to offer a Client plan preparation at no cost and build the Project for a set price without competition.   That way they eliminate bidding process all together.
  • Some jurisdictions Require Licensed Professionals to prepare Plans and an inexperienced contractor can lead you on a path where you are unable to “pull the permit” because the plans need to be “stamped”.  You are in a “pickle”.  That brings in a loss of trust.
  • Some Contractors work with Designers at low costs and poor performance that results in mistakes as well as poor design solutions.
  • Contractor preparing Plans drives the design because you have them done at “no cost” but the costs to build are not what you thought they could be or you get way less for the budget you have.
  • So if you hire a Contractor to work on your Plans, you need to make sure that such individual or a company has jurisdictional permission to provide you with design services.   Insist on Bidding the Job anyway.
  • If considered by you Contractor does not know the building industry in depth, than hiring him puts you in peril not only for the design solutions, jurisdictional approvals but also for work execution.
  • Contractor is not a Design Professional.
  • Residential Contractors, better or worse should not design buildings since there is a conflict as to the Owner’s interests and cost effectiveness when you eliminate competition.
  • Contractor’s Design decisions are often made rushed and steered towards known, already tried by a Contractor solutions.  These actions may not be  satisfying your needs except Contractor’s bottom line.
  • As to exploration of alternate solutions,  you might be countered that it would cost too much.  In such case you should run and not look back, you are being led into spending your budget on to mediocrity.
  • When the Contractor offers you the design he will often refer to the work he did before and use solutions he has experienced on previous projects.
  • Your/Clients needs, as to function, style and even cost are not of utmost importance in such a scenario.

DESIGNERS:

What do they do and what are they trained to do?

  • Designers are vocationally trained or on the job trained draftsmen who have the skill and ability to prepare a set of design drawings and/or construction drawings for small projects, like Room Additions, Home Design, Remodels, etc.
  • The States regulate, in some cases, practices of the Building Designers and allow them to perform Design Services for clients for a fee.
  • The States also regulate  size of  buildings and type of  buildings that  Designers are alowed to work on.

Points to consider:

  • Designers are not comprehensively trained to perform design services.
  • Designers have only surface knowledge of the building industry.
  • Designers are inexpensive, which limits alternte solutions and in depth analysis of the Owner’s Program
  • Designers  have their role in the society and perform tasks satisfactorily when certain Owner generated criteria dictate use of these services
  • They usually do not carry professional liability insurance.
  • They often work with Contractors, or are referred by contractors.  Depending on contractual connection Owners’ needs may be playing second fiddle.
  • If you decide on working with the designer make sure they worked for an Architect in the past and that they understand building industry.
  • When working with the Designer make sure they are permitted by the State to perform design services.

ARCHITECTS:

  • The Post is written by the Architect so some may consider it bias. Not at all.
  • We pride ourselves with utmost professional service for our Clients and public.
  • Our forum here is to educate consumers on how to achieve best results in their building endeavors.
  • Our opinions are based on years of experience in the building industry.
  • Our Clients always have our utmost attention.

What do Architects do and what are they trained for?

  • Architects design Buildings of various types, Interiors, Bridges, Ships, Power plants, Factories, furniture, light fixtures, etc
  • Architects are trained at the Univversities in the field of Architecture.
  • Architects are licensed by  States to provide design consulting services to the Public.
  • Architects have knowledge of Building Industry and Building Codes
  • Architects  guide  Clients through  maze of Planning requirements  such as Planning Commission hearings and Design Reviews.  Sometimes even City Council Hearings.
  • Architects design  Projects closely with Clients, having loyalty only to that Client.
  • Architects are required to attend continual education courses in the building industry matters and code issues, to better serve the public.
  • Architects understand programmatic and code requirements and make them work with the project scope.
  • Architects know and understand building styles and can advise which one is a better solution aestheticlly for the project.  That knowledge is better  than anybody elese’s in the industry.
  • Architects have access to large pool of Contractors from whom they can obtain budgets even at the initial design phases to help Owners in decision making on the Project direction,  while considering all aspects of the Project.
  • Archietcts refer Bid Documents to many Contractors to bid the Project, which benefits the Owner.

Points to consider:

  • In our Practice, at Mark Stoklosa Architect, Inc , we incorporate IPD – Integrated Project Delivery System that works for all our Project Types and our Clients.   What does this mean?  It allows all disciplines necessary for the Delivery of a Project to assembly almost at the outset of the Design Process to provide input into the scope of work.  It helps Owners in decision making and allows designs to evolve organically, streamlined towards completion (the design and the constrcution).
  • Another strong feature that we as Architects offer our clients is a 3D visualization.  We can do it in two ways: One as free hand sketching using pen on paper, when we talk.  In this way ideas are turned into  instant artistic images.  Over the years they have been proven close to real and fantastic.  The other way is by generating a computer model of the building and extracting 3d views from that.  We often inaudate our clients with solutions both in plan and 3d for their review.   This helps explore all possible options that could take place on the Project.
  • The fees may seem high when working with the Architect.  But really?  Architect provides all the functions to bring the project on budget and work with right contractors on competitive bids.  Architect designs buildings in strict adherence to codes and Owner’s program.  You get what you planned for.   The funds  best saved are at the construction phase.   Saving proverbial “five hundered dollars” on an architect puts a squeeze on professional’s time and quality of work.
  • Once you have worked with an Architect and learnt about an effort professional puts into the Project you will appreciate the services, while increasing the value of your Property. The fees often do not reflect relationship between this new value and the services provided.  However the real estate agent upon sale realizes often much higher rewards for a miniscule effort and almost no liability.  Just look at the details and science that went into plans over many days, weks and months to design this million dollar home, or commercial edifice; than you would understand who needs to give you a “proverbial discount”.
  • Working with the Architect you have an ally to lean on and who will deliver the job successfully.
  • Architect will always see your best interest at all phases of the work.

So in conclusion next time you plan to improve your property, please reach out to the Architect.  Your design experience will be enhanced and your property value will increase and the work will be done the way you wanted it.   Be your Architect’s companion and work with him/her towards common goal of improving the property you own.   Learn from your Architect proper styles, good construction practices, exposure to good contractors and achieving lifestyle or work space that will be timeless.

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