If you’re thinking about starting a building project, be it a new home, a remodel, or an addition, you may be asking yourself, ‘Do I need to hire an architect?’ In a word, yes. An architect provides a broad range of expertise in buildings that no other profession can offer. Buildings are complicated amalgams of numerous systems that all work together, and the architect is uniquely trained to work with the design and construction of all of them. An architect’s training requires advanced schooling, a long internship, and passing a series of rigorous exams.
From the very beginning of any project, even on the smallest projects, there are decisions to be made in respect to codes, zoning, and scheduling. Only an architect is trained to navigate these complexities in a comprehensive way. The first thing an architect can do is help you to define your scope based on budget, site and your needs. Early involvement of an architect may seem like an unnecessary expense, but the earlier the better because the architect will help protect your investment, and frequently the earliest decisions have the greatest impact.
As construction begins, an architect is your agent and advocate representing your interests when dealing with contractors, building officials and consultants. An architect has the ability to foresee problems as they arise on paper, which is far less problematic and less expensive than discovering problems during construction.
A home is usually the largest investment you’ll make in your lifetime and an architect will make sure not only that any remodel or design is not only done to code and avoids fines or expensive repairs, but also that the design enhances the property value. An architect can also help to save money through increased energy performance. Additionally a well designed project will anticipate the client’s needs over the long term, e.g. preparing for future growth of the home.
Particularly in new homes, the single most important decision one can make for the performance of the home is the siting. A well sited house can do more to reduce your energy bills than any other energy efficiency measure can. In addition, an architect can help to relate the project to neighborhood and historical contexts. Only an architect is qualified to not only address the complex set of needs you bring to your project, but also bring you into the decision making process like no other professional can.