Hire an Architect?

How it turned out: How we would do things differently:
Badly. The architect fees were estimated to be 3-5% of the cost of the project. However, we had just started this project and got a bill for $2000 and had not yet had anything remotely resembling working drawings. We actually liked this architect and found him to be very responsive as well as friendly. However, from the start a number of questionable things happened that made us change our minds about this decision. First of all, the architect, sent out a staff person to measure the house. Which we were remodeling. This person measured for over 3 hours and I actually saw his notes upon completion. This guy measured every single doorway, wall, room, hallway, as well as the outside dimensions of the house. The problem I had with this is that we were completely gutting the second floor. So a majority of these dimensions were completely useless. When the architect came back with a couple sketches of the proposed house plans they only used the outside dimensions of the house. These sketches also didn’t take into account the fact that somehow you need to get furniture in these rooms. No consideration was given to where to place windows, doors, closets, ect. based on where/how you would set up a bed for example. A neighbor who is a builder came over when they saw us using this architect and told us that while this guy was good, that the plans were often unnecessarily expensive to build. For example, this person had designed in special order garage doors rather than standard doors which would jack up the price on the overall project — which in turn increases their fee. Apparently, this is pretty standard practice and unsuspecting home owners only find out too late or must pay for changes to the plans to correct these which may also involve receiving approval from the city. An architect can be a very useful resource in any home remodeling project. However, if you know what you want to build, how you want it to look,  and for the most part what materials you prefer. The architect becomes a very expensive addition. Based on my experience, for a full set of working drawings you are talking between $5-10,000 minimum. If you want your architect to obtain variances (if required), any/all permits, and oversee construction your costs will run you several times that figure above and approaching 5-10% of the project costs. A cheaper way to approach this is to either hire an independent draftsperson. They could draft you working drawings for less than $1000. If you buy your lumber from some building supply stores, some will provide you these services for free. An interesting comparison between building focused draftsperson, estate manager, and an architect is that draftsperson really understands dimensional lumber. They will give you plans that will be the least expensive to build — an architect will always be more expensive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *