What does an architect do?
Homeowners are often curious what an architect actually does. Some even think that architects construct buildings. An architect has many responsibilities, but this one is typically for the contractor. Basic responsibilities of the architect include: designing a building/space for a client, reviewing design drawings with clients & completing construction documents. Architects are also responsible for other items related to getting the project done, some of these include: Zoning analysis, code research, material research, corresponding with clients, contractors & manufacturers, drawing review, etc. Once a set of drawings is complete, the architect’s job is complete. Unless, a client would like the architect to perform construction phase services; such as observation of the construction, field reports, change orders, and inspections. These services are usually for commercial building projects, although clients could ask for these services for residential projects. Another service architect’s offer is bidding phase services, where they put together bid packages, and help the client choose which contractor will be the best fit for the project at hand. Programming, services can be completed by an architect, but the owners are usually responsible for this. They know their needs the best, and know how they need their buildings to function as a whole
When should I hire an architect?
It is best for you to hire an architect as soon as they are ready to begin planning for a construction project. The earlier in the process an architect is hired, the better. Even if you just want to kick the tires and see how much your project could cost, most architects are happy to provide an estimate of architecture fees & rough estimate cost for your project budget. There are many factors that affect both of these numbers. Some clients feel going to a contractor is better, but contractor's don't typically know the building code architect's need to follow, and certain items on a project will need to be done a certain way to follow that code. In addition, the architect will be able to provide a preliminary design to ask a contractor for a ballpark figure, to make sure the project will be feasible, and on budget. Final construction documents are more definite will their notes and detailing they provide, and a contractor can give a closer number on your project. Another situation that comes up sometimes is if you are shopping for a new home to purchase. Hiring an architect for consulting would be good in this situation to know if you can make modifications to a property for adding decks, porches, 2nd floor additions, etc. This will help you decide if the house improvements would be financially feasible for your needs.
When is the best time to get architectural plans? The worst?
Location is one key factor that affects the best time to get architecture plans. In New York, the best time to get plans is in the winter. This is because the architect will then be able to get your construction plans completed before spring; the best time to build when the weather is not too cold or too hot. The worst is in the fall; by this time, it is too late. You will not be able to start construction until the spring. The only benefit to having plans completed during the fall is if you would like to beat the winter rush for drawings. In other locations, the best time to get plans would be depending on the weather patterns & temperature of that region. Another factor would be financial reasons, affected by time. In some projects, time is a huge factor. A building might need to open at a specific time. ie a mall would aim to open in time for holiday season. When time is a factor, there is usually a larger budget, to ensure the project will be completed on the date it needs to be open for business.
- scope (siz) of the project
- Project quality
- material & labor
- Site plan
- Foundation plans
- Floor plans
- Plumbing, strapping, general notes
- size & scope of project
- Contractor availability
- Materials used for the project