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What does an architect do?

Architecture is the Art + Science of building. An architects education begins with a 5 or 6 year intense course of study in the theory + practice of 2 + 3 dimensional  design, building systems, structural design, architectural history and planning. Additional electives might include City Planning, Landscape Architecture, Fine Arts and Business. An internship program follows graduation with exposure to the practice of architecture under the direction of a mentor. This generally takes another 3 years of full time (but often more!) work before qualifying to take the Architectural Licensing Exam. When I took the exam, it was a 3-day affair and upon receiving passing grades in each of the 5 sections the applicant would take an oral exam before a panel of practicing architects. Generally, it takes 10 years to become a licensed architect. Most States mandate minimum yearly Continuing Education requirements to maintain licenses.

In addition, architects are inundated with mountains of new Product Literature, Building + Life Safety Code Amendments, State + Local Zoning laws and introduction to new building techniques. It's no wonder many architects don't do their best work until they're in their 80's! There's always something new to learn and master.

....O.K., so how about those fees!

The services of an architect can be broken down into tasks. Some examples would be:

  • Meetings with the Owner to determine the Scale, Scope and Budget of their project, also known as the Program.

  • An Analysis of the Building Site including Topography, Utilities, Easements, Solar, Wind and View Orientation.

  • Concept Design including Site + Floor Plans, and building massing (how does it look in 3 dimensions)

  • Preparation of Construction Documents (drawings and specifications)  used for Building Dept. Permitting and for Cost Estimating by General Contractors.

To determine fees, an architect looks at the tasks involved., whether additional consultants are required, such as structural, mechanical, electrical, landscape, interior design. A fee proposal can then be prepared using a  fixed fee, an hourly not-to-exceed, or a  percentage of construction cost basis. Most custom residential projects will fall in the 8-12% of construction cost schedule.

For an initial 2 hr. consultation for your project at your home, my fee is  $400.00. This would be included in my overall fee should the project continue.


If you're thinking of building a new home, remodeling or adding on to your existing home you might ask "Why should I hire an architect?"

Simply put, an architect can help you with the task of organizing your ideas, budget and schedule into a comprehensive + meaningful package. They can show you design options on how to achieve value for your dollar through thoughtful design,planning, site analysis and constructibility.

An architect can also assist you in finding the right Contractor for your project and assist you in reviewing payment schedules and product submittals.

While many people feel they can save an architects fee by simply shopping for a Contractor, this is simply a mistake. Contractor's are not trained to design buildings and most pick up their "design sense" from rubbing shoulders with design professionals over the years. 

Poor design decisions and missed opportunities are the biggest mistakes I've seen in residential projects devaluing your investment down the road. Using an architect will bring added valueto your project through collaboration, planning, design and documentation.

....and why should I hire one?
Basic Services

Basic Architectural Services include the following Phases:

  • Schematic Design Phase: During this phase the architect will prepare plans, elevations and perhaps a simple 3-d model to show the overall scale of the project and how it meets your program needs.

  • Construction Documents Phase: During this phase the architect will prepare Constructuoin Documents for submittal to the various Regulatory Agencies, ie.Planning, Building, Public Utilities. In addition, the services of a structural engineer, energy consultant may be called in to provide required engineering.

  • Bid Phase: The architect helps the owner in selecting contractors to prepare bids. The architect will answer questions from the bidders as well as review alternative materials or specifications.

  • Construction Administration: The architect will represent the owner and make periodic visits to the project site and report on the compliance of the construction to the Construction Documents.

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