Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Value of an Architect

Here are some reasons why you need to hire an architect:


1. Value Added through Design: A thoughtful, responsive, and artistic design will create more value than anything else you can do. This is often referred to as the intellectual investment. You can throw as much money as you like at the materials, furniture, appliances, etc., but if the project is not well designed, it will never reach its full potential in value or in your ability to enjoy it.

2. Quality of Life: A house is composed of many elements that make for a comfortable and inspiring place to live. The owner’s personal preferences, taste, interests, and living patterns should be part of the design. The context is very important: how does a house live in its setting; how are the views enhanced; how is privacy protected; how does it interact with the yard features? The proportions of room sizes and ceiling heights make the difference between elegant and clumsy and are critical to how a house feels. The sequential flow of space goes hand in hand with living patterns. All of these considerations -and more- go into a good design. A good design also offers other benefits.

3. Avoiding the Nightmare: Design is more than how a building looks and lives. An architect has been trained to understand the cross discipline of trades and crafts that it takes to put a building together successfully, incorporating all of the many components of construction together so it functions properly, too. There are many subspecialists involved, and it is the architect that orchestrates the process. For example, structure, heat and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical and lighting, sometimes sophisticated lighting controls, waterproofing, and materials of all types have to be coordinated so they work properly, don’t conflict with each other, and don’t appear as an afterthought. So often these important components are left to the contractor to resolve during construction, and that is usually where the “nightmare” occurs.

4. Getting What You Pay For: Remember, the architect is making sure the design you have seen on paper is what is being built. Many think that once the drawings are done the contractor should be able to build the project, but there’s often a hitch. Sometimes there are easier ways to accomplish the construction of a project, but it may compromise the longevity, function or visual appeal of the building. Your architect has a vested interest in creating attractive buildings that last. The architect can be an objective decision maker, with knowledge of construction methods and the intent of the drawings. Since the contractor and architect speak the same language, difficult situations can be resolved professionally…often sparing the owner sleepless nights.

5. Return on Investment: The investment in a house is typically a minimum of five years. Upon sale, its value will usually cover any upfront investment made in the architect (and sometimes much more). It is all about quality of the design and how your house distinguishes itself.  Your home should be an investment in your life and your portfolio. Invest at the beginning by selecting a qualified architect and the dividends will continue to pay back.
By Richard Skinner.

Skinner, R. (May/June 2012). The value of an architect. Arbus, 17(6), 28-30.

More reasons to hire an architect:

  • Architects can add value to your project by understanding and designing what you need – no more no less. This process of efficiency saves you money.
  • Architects can monitor your budget and negotiate to get the best workmanship and materials at a good price. This prevents large overuns of cost and time.
  • Architects can reduce your energy and maintenance costs. Energy costs will only continue to rise. Invest now by building for maximum energy efficiency and your home will pay you dividends every year.
  • A talented architect can turn a difficult lot into a successful building site
  • Architects spend time planning and developing your ideas to help avoid changes once construction is underway.
  • Architects understand local codes and climatic conditions – plan books and internet designs do not. Plan books do not take advantage of the path of the sun and other passive heating and cooling strategies. Plan books are generic and do not include information to address the high wind zone requirements of the coastal towns in our area.
  • Architects can offer ideas and solutions you may have never thought of on your own.
  • Architects can help ensure what was designed and specified is actually built during construction by monitoring the construction process. An architect acts as a fiduciary when they are retained for services during construction.
  • Architects can help you stay within your budget, can make sure your functional needs are met, and can help you deal with the stress of construction.
  • Architects can help you get a better "design" which could result in a higher resale value.
  • Architects are trained problem solvers.
  • Architects are experts on new building materials and construction techniques. Construction today can be extremely complex. Owner's are well served by an architect who can help steer them through the many decisions and options.
  • Architects see the big picture and help you get there with the least amount of work and minimal disruption. They help you avoid pitfalls and can even plan for future expansion.
  • It will cost you more to build without an architect.

And why do you need an architect for your house?

A beautifully designed home and a satisfied homeowner are the most gratifying goals at the heart of an architect’s work. A good architect has the talent and ability to see the big picture, to glean the most potential out of a property, and to thoughtfully interpret a client’s aspirations. Architects are trained problem-solvers, and the value of an architect lies in her ability to find the delicate balance between program, construction and cost, in essence to find just the right harmony between pragmatism and aesthetic beauty.

When homeowners and their architect can communicate well, when the architect knows how to listen and interpret their dreams and how to thoughtfully educate and guide the homeowner through the process, the value of the architect’s services is immediately understood. The architect is at the helm, working towards giving clients choices and options, helping them to prioritize their wish list, and giving an experienced opinion as to where to compromise in order to maximize the financial investment.

The challenges of a residential building are as profound as those of a large commercial project, but in a very different way. A site can be complicated in terms of zoning or terrain and a program should be distinctive and authentic to a family’s lifestyle. An architect can be experimental and the house can be a testing ground for ideas yet the project should always be guided by the needs and expectations of the client. When designing a custom residence there are and always should be, challenges to the architect’s creativity. The house must have a sense of being well thought out, with a sense of scale and purpose. The house is at the heart of a family’s emotional life and its memories; it’s a nurturing place and a place of refuge. A beautifully scaled and proportioned house can be a source of great joy to its users.



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