When you want to undertake a home project, renovation, or remodeling, you are almost always faced with the dilemma; should I involve an architect in this process? Answering the question as to whether you need an architect or not is one of the first decisions you need to make on any building project. And this decision usually has a big impact on the cost and quality of the building works.
While I would never push or manipulate clients to try and use an architect, it is always important that they get the facts straight and be armed with facts, can decide on their own if they really need an architect or not.
MOST COMMON REASONS WHY PEOPLE SAY THEY DON’T USE ARCHITECTS
Over the years I have heard many reasons from people as to why they don’t want to use architects
- They are too expensive
This is usually the most common of all the reasons, I hear from people as to why they don’t want to use an architect. The truth is usually a professional might seem expensive initially, but it is usually cheaper in the long run. And the fact is there are different ways in which you can bring an architect in on a project; you have situations
- Where you have the architect partner or work with you throughout the whole project, this is usually the most expensive as fees can range between 10%-15% of your total project cost.
- Where architects are employed as consultants, where they provide you with design ideas and strategy. Here you might be charged per strategy session or per hour depending on the architect or your agreement.
- Where architects are employed to just provide a design.
It actually all truly depends on you and your needs.
- What is an architect to do here?
Believe it or not, some people simply don’t know what an architect’s duty is and their importance on a building or construction project. Architects are licensed professionals trained in the art and science of building design who develop the concepts for structures and turn those concepts into images and plans. Their duties require specific skills—design, engineering, project management, supervision, and communication skills needed for interacting with clients, contractors, and all parties that may be involved in the building process.
- I can do it myself
I can’t count how many times I have been called to try remedy works that clients messed up in their bid to handle works themselves, just because “it was small”. Just because a project is small does not mean you do not need to involve a professional. I know a lot of us fall into this trap especially DIY enthusiasts, we read a few articles on the topic, watch a couple of YouTube videos, arm ourselves with hammers and drills, and think we can take on the world, but it isn’t that simple. Professionals, be they architects or designers have spent years training for this stuff, so they are usually your best bet.
- They always create complicated designs
I do admit that some architects get carried away with their creative genius, but it is your right as the client to have your architect create a design that fits your brief. There really is no reason for an architect would or should create a complicated design if you have expressly spelled out especially with a written brief a desire for something simple. It does benefit you or the architect any design that does not fall within the brief you have given the client.
- They always overshoot the budget
This is usually not true, but I get it, there are very few things as frustrating as when you think you have covered the cost for your project, and then a budget overrun arises. One of the first things you have to decide before undertaking any project is to determine your budget (be it a design project or not). And the designer must be privy to your budget and knows not to surpass it as there is usually a contract written. Except in the cases of “force majeure” where there are events beyond their control. Even in this situation, both the architect and client have to agree on terms that benefit both parties.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED AN ARCHITECT
If you are not sure you need an architect there are a couple of ways you might ascertain that you need one
- You might need an architect if you notice that others who have undertaken the kind of project you intend to have employed the services of an architect.
- You do need an architect if you have a clear design dream but don’t know how to interpret it or explain it to your contractors.
- If your remodel project is complex or large-scaled, or if it requires changing of styles, plans, or involves the addition of floors, then you do need an architect.
- You have a problem with your house and have not the faintest clue where to start or what to do or how to solve it.
- If you generally have a distrust for builders, contractors, artisans, etc. or you are inexperienced, or a busy person, then you can hire the services of an architect to help you keep an informed and professional eye on your project.
- If you find out that your project requires planning permission or approval, then you definitely need an architect. In this case, a planning consultant or a can also help.
- If your local building code or authority requires that you use an architect, then you have to use one.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF HIRING AN ARCHITECT?
- Cheaper In The Long Run
Like I have mentioned above, using an architect might seem more expensive initially, but it is always more cost-effective in the long run. An architect does not only help you with managing your budget by advising on materials, cost, setting up payments with contractors, etc., but they also help you avoid error, which you otherwise would have made if you had undertaken the project on your own, which in turn saves you money. Architects also usually have vendors they work with which can earn you a discount on the cost of materials.
- Better End Result
Engaging an architect on your project almost always guarantees you would end up with a better end product, and this goes for hiring a professional on any job.
- Better Planned Design
This should not be mistaken with the above, while number three above talks about the final outlook of the project; this has to do with the spatial planning of your space and project. Simply Put It Has To Do With Great Design.
- They Are Trained Professionals
Architects are highly trained to do what they do and they are trained to help you.
- They Save You Time and Give You Freedom
Architects are usually good at ensuring the work is professionally done which means it saves you the time you would otherwise have had to sit monitoring contractors or artisans, which in turn gives you the freedom to do other activities in your life.
- They Recommend the Best Contractors For Your Project
When you work with an architect, you usually don’t have to worry about finding other contractors, builders, artisans, etc. that will handle other aspects of your project. All of whom will be made to fit within your need and budget.
- Hiring an architect can be expensive. With fees ranging up to 20% of the project cost in some cases, you can be tempted to skip hiring one; however, a good architect usually knows how to save you money on projects.
- Sometimes, we architects do get carried away with impractical designs in the bid to be creative and show off our genius that is why you must have a brief and a budget. Impractical or overly complicated designs will always drive up cost, so if cost is a major factor to you, then you need to be clear about your budget and make sure the architect is putting everything into the budget.
I do hope with these I have been able to educate you, howbeit a little on the roles architects play and whether or not you need them. Truly the choice is yours and I trust you do what is right when the situation arises. Don’t cut corners in your bid to cut cost and don’t feel compelled to do anything you really are not required to.
I would leave you with one of my favorite quotes on quality and cost by Benjamin Franklin “the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”. Never forget that.