Create an ideabook for your next remodeling project!
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What an architect does: Architects design buildings and often oversee their construction.
When to hire one: Architects work with their clients to develop unique home designs that meet the requirements of a building site, as well as their clients' needs and lifestyle. If your plans involve building from scratch or altering your home's footprint, building codes may require that an architect sign off on plans before construction starts, so check whether this is true in your city or state.
What it will cost: Architects' fees vary widely according to the project type, location and many other factors. Although fees may be hourly (anywhere from $50 to $200 or more), they're more often based on a percentage of total construction costs (often around 10 percent, depending on project and region). Some architects will draw up a set of plans for a flat rate.
Do your homework. At the initial consultation, the architect will have a long list of questions about the ways you'll want to use your space and the aesthetic and other goals you'd like it to satisfy. Be prepared to answer these thoroughly and thoughtfully. It can help to provide photos of homes or architectural features that appeal to you.
Make sure your ideas and the architect's match. After getting your input about the project, the architect will draft a set of sketches to begin bringing your vision to life. Take your time reviewing these sketches and discuss anything that doesn't jibe with your wish list for the space. It's much, much easier to make changes at this stage than it is when the plans are firm and construction has begun.
After the sketch stage, the architect will draw up final, concrete plans. These often include a list of specified materials and other nuts-and-bolts items.
Don't be shy about asking for help. Architects' plans can be challenging for the untrained eye to decipher. Be sure you understand the details and ask your architect to explain any aspects that you find confusing. See how to read a floor plan
Also, the process of gathering building permits can throw homeowners for a loop; your architect should be able to assist you and relieve some stress on your end. And an architect can ensure that the contractors' work stays true to the plans for the space.
Seek input about fixtures, finishes and surfaces. If you aren't working with an interior designer, ask your architect for guidance about paint colors and surface materials, as well as other features such as lighting. He or she likely will be able to offer good suggestions that will help the space to flow both visually and functionally.
Encourage site visits during construction. It will add to the bottom line, but having your architect on hand to be sure the plans are carried out correctly can save time, headaches and money in the long run.
Tell us: Architects and homeowners, please share your tips below!