By Mark J. Donovan
planning to build a new custom home or home addition, it may make sense to work
with an architecture firm to develop a quality architecture design. Frequently
homeowners, who develop their own architecture design and plans for a custom
home or home addition, end up with either an unapproved building permit, or even
worse, a home or home addition that does not meet their expectations.
An architect does more than develop architectural drawings of your
proposed custom home or home addition.
As part of
their job they perform site evaluations, review local building code
requirements, perform structural engineering, develop detailed engineering
schematics, generate bills of materials, assist in the contractor selection and
bidding process, and oversee the project to make sure your home meets the
quality requirements as specified in the architectural plans.
Due to the magnitude and
responsibility associated with an architectural firmís effort, one can expect to
pay anywhere from 5-15% of the total project cost for their services.
There are several phases in the
architectural aspect of your new custom home or home addition project.
Initial Onsite Meeting
The initial visit usually involves a
site visit to the property. On site, the architect looks at the lot or existing
home and listens to your ideas on a new home or home addition. He will probably
provide you with some suggestions to consider before meeting again.
Once you have decided upon some rough
ideas for your new custom home or home addition, you will meet again with the
architect to review your ideas and possibly even any plans you may have
In addition, assuming you want to
move ahead with the architect, the architect will draw up a contract specifying
what services he will provide for you. Normally the contract will include at a
minimum the architectural design phase. This phase will provide you with a set
of engineering plans for your custom home or home addition.
Other phases that you may want to
enlist his services on include the Contractor Bidding Phase and the Project
After signing the contract, the
architect will take your ideas and develop a set of hand or computer generated,
to-scale sketches, with various aspect views of the proposed home or home
This may take a number of days or
weeks, pending the complexity of the project.
Once you have reviewed the sketches
and have approved of a concept for the custom home or home addition, the real
During the design phase, the
architect will develop a detailed architectural design of your custom home or
The design phase will initially
include a thorough site and environmental analysis, and a Federal, State and
local Code analysis to ensure the new home architecture design will meet all
state and municipal requirements.
With all environmental and municipal
building codes understood the architect will begin to develop detailed
schematics of the home. As part of the process he will specify all dimensions
and material requirements to enable a contractor to build the home.
Specifications included both exterior and interior structural framing, component
selection, and finished material.
When completed, the architect will
generate for you a complete set of Construction plans and Bill of Materials,
with costs and schedule estimates.
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Bid Process Phase
With the Construction package in hand
you will next begin the Bid Process phase. In this phase, the architect if you
so elect, will help to identify and interview potential contractors to bid on
Once you have selected the
contractors and they have provided bids, the architect will review the bids with
you to see which one(s) are the best for your schedule and budget. In addition,
the architect may work with you to help negotiate the bid proposals.
During the construction phase the
architect can provide Site Administration/Management services to ensure the
custom home project is being built to the architectural plan specifications and
local code requirements. In effect, he is your quality control manager.
Whether you are building a new custom
home or a home addition, an architect can ensure you get the project built to
meet you expectations. Architectural services are more than just providing you
with a set of blueprints. They convert your home ideas into reality by providing
professional engineering and planning services. When considering your new home
or home addition project make sure you talk with an architect before proceeding.