Value of an architect: is about why anyone might want to consider engaging an architect to design a home or building for them.
What is special about an architect that makes them a value?
What values do they deliver to a project that make them worth the investment in them?
How are architects a VALUE?
What sets them apart?
– Value of an Architect #1: PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS: architects are trained to solve seemingly impossible problems with demanding design criteria. Architects are the most experienced people in the world at designing buildings and homes and can be counted on to arrive at the most creative and effective solutions.
– Value of an Architect #2: ENERGY: your architect can provide enough upgraded insulation and other energy conserving features designed into your house to result in you saving hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of your home. An architect knows best where the most efficient use of your energy dollar should go: they are experts. After all: they are trained to design homes and buildings: it’s what they do for a living.
– Value of an Architect #3: HEALTH: your architect can detail and specify your house so that it won’t leak, or have dangerous off-gassing, thereby making your home more durable and less prone to develop mold, radon & other toxic issues, which results in a healthier house for you and your family, saving you the pain and suffering of illnesses that could otherwise develop from improperly built construction using more dangerous materials ana systems. Architects know about material off-gassing and other harmful effects that others associated with your home’s construction usually aren’t motivated to discover. Your architect knows because they are involved in your project with one focus: creating the best home for you and the best value possible. They are your advocate. They have sworn a solemn HSW vow, when becoming licensed, to protect the Health, Safety & Welfare of the public and their clients.
– Value of an Architect #4: BUILDING PERMIT REQUIREMENT: Most public buildings and some residential projects are required to have a licensed architect preparing the design and construction documents in order to obtain a building permit. One day, it may be a requirement that if it needs a permit, it needs an architect. It is odd that one of the most complex building types possible (residential projects) aren’t always required to have an architect creating the design and documents. The public would be better served if that was a requirement. Not having an architect is one of the reasons most homes in the world are in such disrepair.
– Value of an Architect #5: DURABILITY: your architect can detail and specify your house to last longer and avoid as much maintenance as possible, through smart detailing, saving you the hassle and expense of fixing things in a less properly built house. Others are often more focused on saving some meager expense here and there, even though that could result in damage to the integrity of your project. The architect wants the best home possible for you.
– Value of an Architect #6: SECURITY & STRENGTH: your architect will provide details to be strong and help resist the harsh storms that are assaulting our world these days. Ask any of the people whose houses blew down in the various record storms during the last 20 years. And there are more on the way. Don’t become a statistic. Sometimes all it takes is a more sensibly designed detail to keep your project together. No one but your architect will be as concerned for your welfare and longevity of your project as they are; it’s their job.
– Value of an Architect #7: RESALE VALUE: these are very competitive times. The World has weathered a major Recession, which too many was a full-blown Depression. And the home ownership sector has been particularly hard-hit. Having the advantage of a more functional layout and more attractive appearance for your home can give you a marketing advantage. In any real estate cycle, this can help provide you with increased resale value. For commercial projects this can’t hurt the owner as well.
– Value of an Architect #8: FUNCTIONALITY: Architects spend their lives solving problems with homes and buildings, squeezing the most out of every square inch. Many architects have government contracts, requiring them to plan homes and buildings in an efficient manner to make the most of every tax dollar.
– Value of an Architect #9: AESTHETICS: it is a requirement, when architects are being trained in major universities across the world, that their project are not only attractive and beautiful, but that they embody the concept of the programmed project. Architects program their projects in the beginning, listening to the needs, requirements, hopes and dreams of the owners. Then, as they design, they incorporate these features into the project, typically elevating the project into the realm of art, as well as function, making the design true “architecture”: a project that has a soul at its center, evocative of higher aspirations, symbolic of the positive aspects of the nature of the project, as well as function. The architect is the only entity trained to accomplish this blending of art, technology and function.
– Value of an Architect #10: CREATIVITY: Architects are all very creative professionals. They have an ability, through training, experience and built-in intelligence, to be able to see solutions that are missed by others. Why: if they were not creative, they would never make it through college and would never earn their degrees, because to accomplish those objectives requires a tremendous amount of creativity.
There are more values of an Architect, but these are a good start.
The other day I saw an article on LinkedIn in which a colleague of mine was recommending that you “make sure you hire a good architect.”
Naturally, my first reaction was, “what constitutes a good architect?”
First of all, what is an Architect? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an architect is a person who designs buildings and advises in their construction.
Merriam-Webster, sorry but this is not even close! My work would have beebn so easy if that were the case.
An architect does so much more than that.
Believe it or not, there are all kinds of architects with different specializations and skills. Most of those specialized skills go beyond an architect’s experience with a certain size or type of building.
Therefore, it’s a difficult task to define what a good architect is, but depends on the basic structure and components of a project, below are a few characteristics of a good architect.
A good professional architect should (in no particular order):
• Know the code and governing constructions laws
• Know how to use Architectural tools
• Know how to manage the budget
• Know construction systems
• Know space planning
• Know how to measure
• Know the available building materials
• Know how to read a site and manage water
• Know to a certain level other disciplines such as structure and mechanical, electrical, plumbing systems (also known as building systems) in order to coordinate the different trades
• Know how a building is constructed (contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t include actual skill in building. Architects don't need to know how to build because they are not contactors)
• Be able to visualize
• Have good written and oral presentation skills
• Know Urban planning
Readers beware; the fact that you may have good taste doesn’t automatically makes you a good architect. (That’s what I hate about HGTV and sometimes Houzz)
So after going through that boring list you may be confused and ask yourself, but what about design?
There my friends, is where the difference resides between a good and not so good architect. A good architect should know all of the aforementioned, because it’s all part of the design, and it’s important to know how to integrate all of the above for a successful project. A not so good architect is one who concentrates only on one or few of the points mentioned above.
However, above all, I believe a good architect should have excellent people skills, know how to listen to his/her client and design a project for the client’s and for the architect.
I hope I clarified the issue or at least helped you be less confused.
Regards and keep in touch.
If you have interest in Design or have worked with an Architect or Designer before, you may be familiar with the different phases in a project. If you are new to the process, then you will learn something that may help you in the future.
In every project there are some subtle variations but it mainly consists of 5 steps:
Construction Administration (some people call it also project management)
I would love to talk about the first 4 phases, but actually I would like to engage you in the most “obscure” of the phases, which is Construction Administration.
Construction Administration consist on two main aspects: Bidding and Control of the work and payments during construction.
Now that you understand this, let’s move on.
The Bidding is the process where the client or Architect send the approved drawings to many contractors and choose one based on several aspects: experience, reviews, insurance, but mainly price. The architect will help you clean the weeds and choose the appropriate one.
The control of the work:
In every project we work, the contract specifies 2 (two) site visits during construction, which is the minimum that in our opinion, any Architect should include.
We also always add construction Administration as an Additional Services for the client to choose from.
So you sign the contract and as a client, you think that you are covered with the two visits, but it is enough? Well depends in various factors but mainly, in the size and the difficulty of scope of the project. As you can assume there is no much an Architect can do in two visits, and if the project takes more than 6 months which most of the projects do, so definitely is not enough.
I hear many times the argument that the project should be designed and detailed enough for the contractor to build without any questions. In reality a project is never finalized during the “paper” phase. There are multiple aspects that the architects expect the contractor to know, and build accordingly. The construction documents are “legally” a design intent and nothing more. The more information the Architect provides then the design intent will be more closely followed or that’s what is expected, but it will never cover every item. If an architect would be required to detail until the last fastener, the project will take longer and the fees will be way higher.
Contractors as any other professional, come in various degrees of quality. Clients sometimes try to save money hiring a least experienced contractor. I’m not blaming them. Construction is expensive, don’t be fooled by that, and you want to have your dream house, and your budget is limited. But as we say “what is cheap at the end is more expensive”. Construction activities per se are expensive, so the losses are big as well when problems arise.
YOU DIDN’T WANTED TO PAY THE ARCHITECT TO BE PART OF THE BIDDING PROCESS, REMEMBER?
A smart client will prefer to use a more experienced contractor and pay more. But is that enough? Not even close.
The construction administration responsibilities include that:
We lead a weekly project meeting and review the progress of construction.
We confirm that the contractor is executing the project as per the design and specifications. I tell the client that we want to confirm that the contractor is building her project as per our construction documents, “which she paid all that money for us to prepare”.
We are available to quickly resolve unexpected issues and unforeseen conditions, so construction progress is not delayed.
We review the contractor’s payments, so we have more leverage during construction. This leverage allows us to protect the client’s interest and confirm that they are only paying for what is appropriate at that stage of the project.
We review shop drawings and submittals. Again, to confirm that the client is getting what he/she is paying for.
We assist with preparing and confirming the completion of the punch list.
We are legally responsible for their health, safety and welfare and must confirm that all building and environmental codes are being observed.
It saves us from liabilities.
Architects differ in the way they charge for Construction Administration, mostly and depending greatly of the type of project, Architects can charge between 0.5% to 6% of the construction. Some more established architects may charge more.
Now that you know, we hope that for your next project you include it in your budget. At the end we assure you it will save you time and money, but most importantly you will have the house you wanted and worked so hard to pay for it.
Check out for our next articles.
After a long time I decided to start writing a blog in conjunction with my partner. There are very good architectural blogs out there, but there is always a different point of view or approach to the same item. We will try to do it different.
I hope you enjoy what we are writing. Don't forget to fill the comments with questions or ideas you have.