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What services does a residential architect offer?

Learn about the services architects offer to inform your selection
Published on
February 21, 2022
Contributors
Christi Farrell, RA
Co-founder / Principal
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Many people are not aware of all the services a residential architect can offer. A good architect will work with you to design a home that meets all your needs and wants while also considering the lot, the budget, and the building code requirements. Keep reading to learn more about what a residential architect can do for you.

Site Selection and Analysis

The site on which a house is built can have a major impact on the overall design. If you’re early on in your process, engaging with an architect can help you determine the characteristics of a site that would match with your design goals. If you’ve already purchased a site, a good residential architect will take the time to analyze it before beginning work on the design. Factors that must be considered include things like topography, climate, orientation, soil conditions, and surrounding structures. By thoroughly analyzing the site, the architect can come up with a design that takes advantage of its unique features.

Conceptual design 

This is the first stage of the design process and it is when the architect gets to know you and your ideas for the project. The architect will take all of your input and begin to develop some concepts for the design of your home. This stage usually includes several meetings between you and the architect as well as some research on the site, the building code, and other factors that will affect the design of your home.

Schematic design 

Once the conceptual design is complete, the architect will develop a more detailed schematic design. This will include floor plans, elevations, and maybe even some 3D models or renderings of your future home. At this stage, the architect will also start to help you select materials and finishes for your home.

Design development 

After you have approved the schematic design, the architect will move on to developing the design further. This stage includes things like finalizing the floor plans, selecting plumbing and light fixtures, and finalizing other details of the home’s interior and exterior design.

Permitting

Permitting a critical step in the design process as it involves local government and their approval process which can vary in length. The application for a permit varies by local government but architects will help manage the development and submission of permits on your behalf. They will need to produce specific drawings that are not at the same detail as construction drawings, The permitting drawing set will include all the information necessary to confirm that the project meets all regulations including building code requirements. Without permit approval, very little can be accomplished. 

Construction documents 

Once the design is complete, the architect will prepare construction documents that include technical drawings and specifications that will be used by contractors to build your home. These documents are often called “blueprints” or “plan sets” and they detail everything that needs to be done in order to construct your home according to the approved design.

Bidding and Negotiation

During the bidding process, the architect will produce a bid package to be shared with a shortlist of contractors in order to gather proposals and estimates. Once accepted, you and the architect will set aside time to decide on which contractor to go forward with. This decision is at your discretion but the architect will be able to provide context and offer their suggestion based on their experience. 

Construction administration 

During construction, many architects continue to be involved in order to answer questions from contractors, help resolve problems that come up during construction, or make changes that might be required due to unforeseen circumstances. Some architects also perform quality control checks during construction to ensure that everything is being built according to their plans and specifications.

Conclusion: 

As you can see, there is a lot more to what a residential architect does than just “designing houses.” A good architect will work with you throughout every stage of the process to ensure that your new home meets all your needs and wants while staying within budget and following all applicable building code requirements. So if you are thinking about building a new home or adding an addition onto your existing home, be sure to consult with a licensed residential architect first!

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