Hiring a Home and Residential Architect

by Marcus Pickett

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You might think that hiring a residential architect is an inefficient use of money or an outright waste when building a home, but often an architect more than earns his or her fee, actually reducing the cost of total construction. Plus, if nothing else, a residential architect will give you peace-of-mind during the construction, supervising all the work to ensure things are accurately built to specifications.

Hiring a Home Architect for Your New Home Construction
Architects do many, underappreciated tasks during home construction that often get overlooked and cause these professionals to be undervalued. They help define needs, reveal unconsidered options, design within a budget, and assist in obtaining building permits and contractors. If you haven't already bought a plot for your new home, you should talk to an architect first. They are also excellent at helping you choose a location for your new home.

It may not seem like it, but one of the most valuable things an architect can do is simply monitor the construction process. They should be able to identify any work that isn't meeting building standards and contractors will know that their work must be immaculate to pass the architect's inspection. Don't be uncomfortable paying another contractor a sizable chunk of change to essentially supervise the work. When your house is still in excellent condition 10, 20 years down the line, you'll be glad you spent the extra money.

Residential Architects and Home Additions
Frequently, homeowners want to build a home addition but can't decide where to start. Talking to residential architect can be a great way to start, but first, you should create a steadfast budget for your home addition. Tell the architect why you need a home addition and what the budget is. If the project and the budget are substantial, hiring an architect to oversee the addition is probably a wise investment. For smaller projects and budgets, a consultation can set you on the right path toward finding the parameters of the addition and the contractor to build it. An architect will also be honest with you if he or she thinks the intended project is implausible. Just like any other home improvement contractor, there are great architects out there and lousy ones, so you'll want to talk to more than one to make sure you know who you're talking to.

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A New Generation of Home Architects
You might look around your town or city and see real estate development projects are dominated by mass-produced homes that strive for optimal value. You can still choose from a dozen or more catalogue homes with a decent number of optional modifications. In particular prefab and modular home builders have exponentially increased their design options over the past few years. Just because your home was built in a factory doesn't necessarily mean it's a cookie-cutter home, nor does it mean the structure itself is in any way inferior.

Yet, there is still a healthy market, even with today's stunted home values, for custom-built homes that you can design with your architect room-by-room, square foot-by-square foot. And no matter what route you take, with new software design programs you can see how various decisions will play out in a clear, 3-dimensional representation. You might think home builders only offer these services to upper tier customers who float the possibility of spending millions on a new home. In fact, nearly all home builders offer this level of service to nearly all their customers.

Hiring a Residential Architect: Free and Paid Consultations
Talking with a home architect can be beneficial for your new home construction, regardless of how big or small the architect's role turns out to be. You can talk to an architect for a more in-depth description of what he or she can do for your particular home construction project. In effect, you can give the architect a chance to sell you on his or her services. Naturally, this process is free.

You can also solicit the expert advice of a home architect. You want help generating ideas for floor plans and home styles, or you may have a specific question regarding the modification of a pre-existing house plan. Even a two hour conversation with an architect can greatly facilitate the building process, saving you both time and money. These consultation services are offered by most home architects and are billed out by the hour. If you hire an architect to design and oversee your entire project, architects will usually charge by the square footage of your project or by a percentage of the total construction costs.

Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry.