What can a Residential Architect
do for me ?
Every year, thousands of Americans build new homes, or
renovate and extend their existing homes. Unfortunately, many are unhappy with the finished result.
Some owners find their home looks different to the way they imagined it, is poorly planned, hard to heat or keep
cool, or has cost far more than they thought. This is where a residential architect could
If you’re thinking about building a new house, or remodeling and extending an old one, a
residential architect can be of considerable help. Some folks often feel that residential architects are expensive
without really knowing what they do.
This article aims to advise you about what a residential architect can do for you. Remember,
the title ‘ Architect ’ is a legal one, indicating that a person has demonstrated his or her professional
competence by examination and is registered, or licensed by the State to practice architecture.
A residential architect will work in four broad stages:
1. Schematic Design
2. Design Development
3. Contract Documentation
4. Contract Administration
The benchmark for a residential architect is attanetion to detail. There’s no other alternative
that provides this thorough approach. This assists you in minimizing the worry and ensures that your building
project will be completed as you had hoped.
Stage 1: “Schematic Design”
Is it possible to build up? Do we need to spread out? How will we manage and where is the location of the
pedestrian and vehicle access? These questions and others are schematic design questions. Through consultation with
your residential architect you’ll be able to come up with the best solutions.
An architect’s training and experience, can usually improve your original concepts.In fact, a residential architect
may possibly save you thousands of dollars by improving your designs. For example by utilizing more effective
space, thereby saving on unnecessary building costs. Your architect will consider orientation, massing,
circulation, energy efficiency, furnishing and siting. Once these things are decided, you will be able to prepare a
preliminary building budget, and your residential architect can help.
Stage 2: “Design Development”
This is the stage where the design is developed,
where your residential architect shows you a range of options regarding choice of building materials. Unexpected
cost-savings may be made at this stage, as your Architect may be able to offer attractive but less expensive
alternatives to the building materials you originally thought you would have. Other questions such as the best
systems for heating the home or keeping it cool can be determined at this stage as well.
Stage 3: “Contract Documentation”
If you are satisfied that the design suits
your needs and your budget, and you have decided to proceed with the building, a major part of an architect’s work
starts. He or she will prepare documentation and drawings to ensure that your house is built according to your
requirements and to the standard expected by your local authority. This documentation includes working drawings,
specifications and liaising with local authorities. The architect will detail the various materials to be used;
window and door locations; wall heights and a host of other requirements. Architectural working drawings tend to be
more detailed than non-architectural ones and you will benefit from this extra detail in a number of ways: The
drawings create more certainty about the building contract. Your drawings spell out in more detail just what it is
you are “buying” from the builder. They are more precise about the standard of materials, workmanship required and
finer construction details.
Stage 4: “Contract Administration”
This is the practical stage of building where once again your residential architect will prove to be very useful.
It can be extremely difficult to locate a builder whose workmanship you are happy with, and who is pleasant to work
with. You may be fortunate to know a builder who did a good job for friends. Otherwise, your
residential architect can normally suggest a number of builders whose work is generally
of a good standard. Your Architect’s suggestion in such cases is invaluable, because when a competent builder is on
the job, you can be far more confident that the work will be carried out in a professional manner.
Be patient and set aside time for regular contact with your residential architect and builder to
discuss the progress of the works, any decisions that
have to be made and any changes or improvements to be effected. It is with this regular monitoring that the
residential architect can establish
whether or not the builder is on schedule, and whether he is entitled to time extensions.
When the project has been completed your residential architect may
discover faults not noticeable to you. This is another area where an Architect is useful in protecting your
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