Hiring an Architect: Do We Need One for a Small Project?

Note: This article, written by Lorianna Kastrop, was originally published on Angie’s List on Sept. 23, 2011.

Homeowners often ask, “Do we really need an architect for a small remodeling project?”

There are several reasons to hire an architect, even for smaller projects. Licensed architects are highly trained in all aspects of creating a safe and livable building, not just the artistic aspect. The licensing process requires education, training and testing, as well as an apprenticeship requirement. The process takes many years. A do-it-yourselfer, designer or contractor will simply not have the depth of understanding of a licensed architect. Be aware that by law, only a licensed professional can call themselves an “architect.” If someone calls themselves a “designer” or other designation, they are not an architect.

An architect will often have suggestions that you would not think of on your own or even with a contractor. They are trained to see possibilities. The best approach is to tell the architect what goals you wish to achieve: more space, more light, better “flow” through the house, more storage, etc. Then, let the architect suggest different ways of achieving your goal(s). You do not need to go to an architect with your design already laid out.

Poorly designed remodels are not well-integrated with the original structure. They are obvious add-ons, sometimes sticking out like a sore thumb. An architect can add new features while preserving the best qualities and style of the original building.

Experienced architects know how to design based on your budget, from very basic and economical all the way up to the most elaborate custom design.

Your architect will make sure you get a good outcome from your contractor, making sure that you are treated fairly and that the construction is done correctly.

An architect can jump through the hoops necessary to get the project permitted. Often, architects have developed good relationships with planning and building department officials, who are willing to work out solutions on projects that would otherwise be rejected.

An excellent design from a licensed architect will more than pay for itself in enhancing the value of the home or building. Considering the cost and long-lasting nature of construction projects, be sure to take advantage of professional expertise. You wouldn’t go to an unlicensed doctor to perform surgery on your body. In the same way, you want a licensed professional to work on the design for your home or business. There really is a difference in quality.

Lorianna Kastrop

Vice President, The Kastrop Group, Inc.

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