Last weekend was my 25th college reunion (#legendary), and the whole family attended. A 15-hour car ride left me with some time to catch up on social media, and there’s nothing better for Facebook/Instagram surfing than I-81 in Virginia. Summer is peak renovation season it seems. Owners want to have renovation projects completed by the holidays. I saw lots of good questions out there about how to complete renovations and new construction in a way that solves problems and fits budgets. Like any other question posed on the internet, everyone has an opinion, and there is a good deal of confusion about how architects fit into this process. The issue of cost frequently surfaces: owners want value for their construction investment, and architect’s fees can appear to be just additional cost. To the contrary, however, a good architect works with you as a steward of your investment, potentially saving you money on your construction project.
Architects provide cost-effective design solutions. As architects, our primary job is to listen to you. Conversations with clients help us discover what makes your family unique, and we provide client-specific solutions designed to address your specific issues as well as your lifestyle. We are trained to think outside the box and by providing alternate designs early in the process; we can help you explore multiple cost-effective solutions that might lower your construction costs.
Architects research products to maximize your investment. Architects generally specify the materials and products for your project, taking into consideration not only the initial construction costs but also life-cycle costs. Licensed architects are required to complete continuing education, keeping up to date on advances in building materials and products, and using that knowledge to specify products that can save energy, lower maintenance cost, or provide the performance criteria that you as an owner require. Construction projects require owners to make lots of decisions, and we can help you make the choices that work for you and for your investment.
Solutions on paper are less expensive than solutions during construction. In construction, time is money. Not only are you paying for the contractor’s time, you may be incurring costs from moving out (or eating out if your kitchen is part of the project!) Making quick decisions during construction can get expensive, both regarding product selection as well as design solutions: choosing finishes after construction has begun can result in scheduling delays if your selected tile is back ordered or budget overruns if your choices exceed the contractor’s allowances. Your architect can work out tricky construction details on paper before the first shovel hits the ground, minimizing questions and decisions made in the field and helping to avoid delays.
Comprehensive drawings allow accurate pricing. Ask an architect to see a set of construction drawings. They will be happy to show you! These drawings are essential: they are the means by which we communicate with your builder what you want in your design. They define how you want your project to look and how you expect it to be built. When contractors receive comprehensive drawings, they can provide accurate pricing – no guesswork. If it’s in the drawings and specifications, it should be in your contractor’s price and your final project.
Your architect is your representative during construction. In the end, every homeowner wants to feel as if their construction process met their design and budget expectations. The architect’s role during construction is to help to make both of those things happen Architects review pay applications and shop drawings to determine that owners are getting what they are paying for. Your architect is available to answer questions and solve problems related to unforeseen conditions in the field, which helps avoid costly construction delays.
Your new home or renovation project may not require an architect, but it certainly might benefit from one. If you are seeking advice about how partnering with an architect can add value to your construction project, we are more than happy to have a conversation.