I have written about this in the past – the most common question I get is how much does architectural design cost? It is a difficult question to answer so I completely understand that clients do not know what to expect. Perhaps a better question is what is architectural design worth?
What is the value of these added levels of training?
Well, you have to decide if you want someone who is licensed to practice architectural or just someone who does design work. The difference in a drafter and an architect is first the training required to get licensed. You have to go to college for 5-6 years to study design, work for a licensed architect for 3+ years, and pass Architectural Registration Examinations. Architects are also required to maintain a current license that is regulated by the State where you practice and have to do annual education training.
How much is custom design worth?
Next you have to decide if you want a custom-house or just new construction. The difference is that a custom-house is designed specifically for you. It is developed by having multiple conversations with you in order to determine goals, aspirations, dreams, budgets, space needs, storage needs, and aesthetic goals. How much is custom design worth? It results in a home that is right sized, efficient, durable, and healthy. It results in only paying for the house you need and not more or less than what you need. It results in a more efficient structural system, use of materials, and lower energy costs.
So how much does architectural design cost?
Our designs result in savings per square-foot through construct-ability savings, reduced energy use, durability of materials, and savings on time you would otherwise spend doing selections that we streamline. The final cost depends on many factors; The national average runs between 8-15%. Locally, the rates are less than national averages for sure. If you have a project, call me and we can talk about it. I am happy to better answer the questions for your project.
Should you buy online plans or should you hire an architect? It is a common question in this tight economy. If you are looking for the lowest price for the design solution, the simple answer is purchasing plans online will cost less than if you hire an architect.
However, if you are looking for the lowest price for the total project, I am confident hiring an architect will be the best value.
My question to you is: Why suffer the impacts of paying for generic design when you could get all the benefits of custom design?
Online plans are generic designs that offer the widest appeal to the biggest population. They are not designs that fit your specific needs, they don’t look at your land, and they don’t take time to understand your goals. Sure hiring an architect is more expensive if you are only comparing the cost of plans vs. the architect, but the architect brings all elements into the design. Looking at the best way to place your home on the lot can reduce your costs of excavation, heating and cooling (through passive design), and placing your home to make it livable for a lifetime. Architects bring a thorough understanding of structural efficiency and material characteristics. Architects study building science constantly, looking for the best solutions for their clients. Architects reduce your stress, simplify the finish selection process, and help you find the right builder for your home construction. Finally, the architect can help you stay in control during the construction process by catching problems before they are major issues, answering questions to keep the intent of the design intact, and offering insights from past experiences.
I know it sounds strange to say, but when you hire an architect you will save money. Whether you are building a new home, renovating an existing home, or doing an addition, a well-trained architect will make the process work better, help you make wise selections, and walk you through the process.
How does this happen? Well an architect is trained through years of education in school and then trains under a licensed architect as an intern upon graduation before they can qualify to take the Architectural Registration Examination. This training gives the architect a full understanding of the design, construction, documentation, and contractual processes involved in building. Some architects are experts at Hospitals, others for schools, then there are those that focus on understanding building systems and processes. This experience will help your projects from beginning to end. Architects are trained to listen to your wants, needs, to evaluate your style so that it can be effectively incorporated into the design of your home or business. They know what questions to ask in order to draw out the elements of the design that will keep you on track and produce a solution that adapts to your needs rather than you adapting to poor solutions.
The builder or contractor is also equally important and should be selected very carefully. This is another place that an architect can guide you. They understand the builders in the area and know their strengths and weaknesses and can help you select one that will be the best fit for your project. The architect sees the big picture and is able to help you form the right team for your project. They understand that a broad knowledge and skilled team is important for the success of any project and finding the team members that can work effectively will again save you time and money. The right contractor for the project understands your building system, material availability, subcontractor quality, and scheduling. All of these skills are required for the project to be efficient and cost-effective.
An architect with an understanding of building science, materials, construction process, and contracts is the best first step in getting the maximum value out of any project. If your project has a tight budget and you need to be as efficient as possible, the last thing you should cut from the budget is a good planning and design phase. After all, if you “just hire a contractor” who in the process is looking out for your best interest?