Updated: Oct 16, 2018
About a month ago I posted a link on my blog to help people understand Architectural fees, and I started thinking about why people are surprised by them. To be fair, many people do not really know what an Architect does, but the fault does not lie with the potential client. The reason most people do not know what we do or how to place value on our services is simple: our profession is somewhat hidden from view. The greatest fault of our profession is not educating our would be clientele. I may be a small part of the Architectural community, but I aim to change that, and I hope people aim to listen.
First and foremost, Architects are professionals similar to doctors and lawyers. We have gone through years of schooling, internship and examination to make sure we are properly trained to protect the health, safety and welfare of the occupants of our buildings. We aim to protect the lives of the occupants within the buildings we design. We design to meet certain regulations and inspections so that no one is put in harm’s way due to a faulty design. Did you know buildings are designed in ways to protect the occupants even during severe fires and collapse? Did you know that Architects are bound to design to the building codes that protect you? As professionals, we are held accountable for our designs.
I’ve been working towards my Architectural license for 16 years. Over the years, I have met many Architects, and I’m here to tell you that the profession is changing. Not long ago, Architects would compete for work, which was fine, but it included under-bidding projects and under-cutting other Architects. Architectural fees were not discussed (and still are not in some circles), public advertising was looked down upon and our profession was not properly represented. This kind of practice is changing with the current generation of Architects. The above mentioned practices damaged our profession as a whole.
It is unfortunate, but most people do not see value in what we do. They do not see the big picture of all the requirements that make their project a reality. Yes, we do drawings, but these drawings are extremely important. Yes, we charge fees, but keep in mind that these fees are based on years of expertise in the field, and in the long run we can save you money. That’s right; Architects can actually save you money when you hire us to protect your interests.
Architects specialize in many different areas of design. Simply Architecture specializes in residential and small commercial design. This includes new single-family home construction and renovations to single-family, condominiums and town houses as well as commercial renovations and additions, such as re-designing a commercial office or a tenant lease space.
Commercial design will more than likely need permits and inspections from the local building department. Residential design may require permits, but it depends on the scope of work and the varying local codes. Some locations are stricter than others, and if you ever plan to sell your home you may have problems during the buyer’s inspection if it is not to code. All in all, it can be a confusing process for a homeowner to face, but that is where an Architect can help.
We represent you, the Owner, in a way that no other professional will. A designer will not protect your interests and neither will a contractor. We are not only Architects, but also Interior Designers, project managers, team coordinators and construction administrators. We walk you through conceptual design; we draw the construction documents used for construction; we aid you in choosing a general contractor for your project and make sure they are aware of all issues to avoid additional fees; we select finishes and know the quality of what we select, and we coordinate all consultants that you may need for your project (structural, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, etc.).
When designing a kitchen renovation, Architects look to answer many questions: is the layout optimal? What materials are the best and most durable? How do we provide the best design on a budget? Does the local building department require permits? Is the contractor building everything the way it was designed, or are they taking short-cuts to save themselves money? Did the contractor properly locate the electrical connections, or will the installation cause electrical fires later? Is the contractor trustworthy, and did they bid the project correctly? Imagine all the questions we ask ourselves when designing an entire home, a commercial strip-center or a high-rise condominium.
We cover all our bases, and so should you. Yes, it will cost you, but how much do you want to spend and on what? Hiring an Architect to aid you in the process and represent you in your endeavors could help avoid contractor change orders, extra fees and possible penalties that could arise due to miscommunications with the contractor or the building department. These "extra" costs can usually end up being more expensive than the Architectural fees.
In the end, the choice is up to the client, but as a professional I can honestly say that I would rather pay a doctor or a lawyer for their professional expertise than to try to diagnose my own ailment or represent myself in court.
Until next time...