“Er, what do Architects do again?”
We sometimes get this question. Often there’s a misconception that Architects “draw up blueprints”. Then sometimes people say Architects “design buildings”. We like to describe our work as the design of physical environments, indoors and out. This encompasses the holistic way the in which we approach our work. Let me put it in another way…… What do you expect from your project? It has to be Beautiful? Safe? Inspiring? Sustainable? Responsible? Healthy? Strong (stable)? Accessible? Buildable? On budget? On time? Functional? Well built?….the list goes on. But an Architect often processes many of these criteria simultaneously to come up with design solutions from a blank piece of paper. We mold Space and Structure to create these solutions. Ultimately that is the goal. To get there, we translate and develop these ideas onto documents (drawings and words) that describe the idea to be built.
Do I need an Architect?
For residential projects, there are technical limits to stay within that don’t require an Architect. These have to do with size, scale and material limits. Any project with a commercial component will require an Architect. However, that said, hiring an Architect early on in the process is always beneficial for planning purposes. Often the Architect will captain the process, act on your behalf and in your interests.
Architects are trained professionals that simultaneously think about and synthesize spatial, aesthetic, technical and programmatic requirements. We think out of the box, not simply as an end to itself but in order to look broadly at design problems and provide creative, multiple solutions.
At what stage of my project should I hire an Architect?
As early as possible, but now is not too late! Your Architect will help you map out the stages of your project and assist you in planning your process, budget and progress. If you decide to hire an Architect later in the game, often it’s because you’ve run into some issues with your project. Your Architect can help identify the problematic issues and offer solutions and execute them.
If you hire your Architect as early as when you’ve got an idea about a project, he/she will assist in conceiving the nature and scope of your project and also thinking broadly and provide other insights into your desired program/design brief.
I don’t need an Architect. A Contractor can do the job and design my project for me.
In residential construction, and within code limits, that is true. However, we believe that Contractors build and Architects design. In a traditional sense, the Contractor shouldn’t be required to design, unless a separate design fee is imposed, and the Architect shouldn’t be required to build. We respect the roles of other professionals in the project team in order to work effectively and efficiently.
Your Architect is your agent acting in your interests but sits neutrally between you and your Contractor. When issues arise during construction, often the Architect is called upon to offer a solution in the best interest of the project.
Should I Hire an Architect first or a Contractor?
We’ve found that many people contact a Contractor first. This is understandable as the Contractor is the entity that eventually delivers the product. However, we feel that most projects require a level of design and planning first before a Contractor is hired or contacted. We say this because often Contractors are brought in early to determine the cost of a project. However, unless there is already a detailed design and specification for the project, Contractors are often put on a spot. Their figures will not be reliable. We express this because we like (!) Contractors and respect their work as an integral part of this process. we enjoy working with Contractors as partners in projects. We can’t realize ideas without them!
I can’t afford an Architect. Only the wealthy can afford one.
Hiring an Architect could very well save you money over the course of your project unless you’re designing and building something yourself. We at Juicekitchen Design Workshop will work with you to determine the most appropriate level of service you need for your budget.
How much will hiring an Architect cost me?
We recommend budget anywhere between 8-20% of your total Construction Budget on design fees. Often this could include a portion for other consultants such as Structural Engineers. Ultimately the total fee will depend on factors such as the scale, complexity and quality expectation of your project.
How do I start budgeting for a project? What will the construction cost of my project be?
Besides the cost of Construction itself, budget for consultants’ fees, permitting fees, interior fittings and furnishings, equipment and appliances. Don’t forget to include an contingency amount to cover unexpected expenditures. This figure could range anywhere between 5%-20% depending on the nature and scope of your project. For e.g. a complex remodel of a historic building should include a generous contingency amount.
Currently, for new construction, we recommend a starting budget of about $200-$250 per sq ft. for an entry level of quality. For a higher level of quality, the sky’s the limit! Though $400 psf of construction cost can get you pretty far. These figures are for construction work only and do not include items such as furniture and furnishings, appliances and equipment, specialty equipment, and plumbing and lighting fixtures. Remember to budget separately for these items.
For remodels/renovations, it is much harder to ascertain as existing conditions are often a mystery. Also, any work to be done in the Historic District will need to conform to Design Standards stipulated by the Historic Preservation Board.
How much time do I need to dedicate to my project as a homeowner?
Some homeowners enjoy the process tremendously and are very involved in every aspect of the project. Sometimes it almost becomes a second job! We enjoy that our clients are involved in the collaboration. It is ultimately your project and we help you achieve your goals. In the very least, we feel that homeowners do end up spending a few hours a week with correspondence, shopping and selecting different options that we present. Often, especially during the first design phases of the project, a meeting every couple of weeks can be expected. Very often, we give homeowners “homework”!
Architects are arrogant and hard to work with. They’ll force their design ideas on you!
Yes, the world is made up of all kinds of people. Architects are no different. We do believe that your relationship with your Architect is a reasonably long one and ultimately, you need to trust in your Architect. In fact, that trust needs to be mutual. Expectations need to be understood. Take you time to get to know your Architect. We believe that all projects, regardless of size, scope or ambition, should be a happy and exciting journey for everyone.