mgh_pa

Why don’t more people use architects?

mgh_pa
2 years ago

To build upon on our previous discussions, and as my wife and I research home ideas, interview/designers, and look at newer construction homes in our area, I just can’t help but shake why it seems most people don’t utilize an architect? Literally none of the new homes in our area are aesthetically pleasing, nor what my wife and I would ever build, but yet, people here love them. I, too, didn‘t notice this as much until visiting this site and researching home layouts.


I had always assumed it was a cost issue (which it may be), but I also feel that it could simply be a complacency issue. It’s what builders are used to building, it’s what everyone sees being built, therefore, it’s when it’s time to build said house, that’s the style they go with.


Even on here, most of the builds and/or questions seem to stem around plans found online vs having an architect design from the ground up.


Why is this?


I know not all architects are created equal, nor are all designers/draftsman created equal. Likewise, there are probably some decent stock plans out there, along with horrendous stock plans.


I really fear that the more I research this, the more my concerns are raised. If/when we design our home, based on the fact that it will look unlike any other home in the area, I worry that we’re going to find out the real reason most don’t go the route we do...and that’s a cost vs.capability of the contractor issue.


Just some random thoughts. Would love to hear what everyone here has to say (including those who I’m referring to in this post).


Comments (165)

  • bry911
    2 years ago

    I interpreted "a guarantee of a plan that I will like" as something you would be happy with.

    I see the confusion now. I was actually just referring to separating out the design charrette from the other part of the contract, something that I believe almost all architects do currently, however, I just meant once we have agreed on a design that I like and the architect believes has the foundation of a solid design we move on to a guarantee portion where the actual outcome of those meetings is a design in line with the budget of the project.

    This is something that I suspect most architects already achieve.

  • kudzu9
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    bry91-

    Agree. Thanks for the clarification.

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  • phooneycat
    2 years ago

    Summit Studio: I probably would have been interested in that service when I was exploring "floor plans" and I bet there is a good market for it. I had a hard time with the idea of paying for architect fees of 10% ($80K!) without a guarantee that I would be able to afford to build the house. Too much uncertainty at a high cost. A couple of thousand for a custom concept sounds fantastic.

  • cpartist
    2 years ago

    Isn't what Summit is asking about what architectrunnerguy is already doing?

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    2 years ago

    Well...now here's the thing. If one retains an architect to do conceptual design, or a design charrette what one gets is a set of conceptual drawings.

    "What are conceptual drawings?", Bob asks...

    Well, Bob, they are very preliminary drawings, with some basic overall dimensions and may include floor plan(s), one or more elevations, a roof plan and perhaps a major section. There may or may not be a rough site plan. That's pretty much it.

    "What do I do with conceptual plans?", Bob asked, with a somewhat confused expression on his face...

    Well, Bob, you should know that conceptual drawings are just that--conceptual. The necessary coordination, development, refinement and adjustments haven't yet been made to the drawings...they're conceptual, you see! You can't build from them, Bob...all of the pieces may not even fit together. And they may not work without further study...they're conceptual you see!

    So what's needed is for you have to find someone else, who's an expert in design development and preparation of construction documents...to coordinate the conceptual drawings, do the necessary design development and coordination to make sure all the pieces fit together properly and will work, and then, and only then, prepare detailed construction documents--drawings and specifications--sufficient for bidding, regulatory processes, and complete enough to build without finding surprises, creating construction ooops, spending lots of money on insufficient or inappropriate allowances, and incurring a batch change orders and construction delays.

    "That's a lot of work...", Bob muttered, kicking the dirt up with one of his cowboy boots...

    There's more, Bob, you have to shop for and pick out all of the coordinating finish materials and special building equipment, figure out the HVAC layout, work out the electrical and lighting plans, and coordinate all of the construction work and payments. Oh yeah...and you have to watch the construction crews to make sure the measurements and layout are what's called for in the drawings, and that the work is done properly, like the drawings and specification call out.

    "Hmmm...", Bob said, "mebbe hiring an architect to do all that isn't such a bad idea after all..."

    Great idea, Bob...let's you and me go have a tall, sudsy one, Bob...wait till I get my boots on...

  • Love stone homes
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Summit the idea of a design concept is awesome. We looked for over a year for an online plan, however, they were all flawed, did not meet our needs and most definetly, did not suit the lot. It was through being educated on this forum, reading c many many comments and finally, viewing designs posted by ARG that we decided to hire him. We live in Canada, and are quite ok with hiring a draftsman/house designer to do the construction drawings and having them stamped by an engineer in our province. We also felt very comfortable knowing that our architect agreed to be available should questions arise. So yes, your idea can work. An important key is trust...!

    Cp, our posts just crossed...and yes it seems summit is asking about what ARG is doing, however, we could be wrong

  • Alison
    2 years ago

    I didn't know people built custom homes without design services. We have a designer not an architect but she not a draftsman either. This is extremely common in our area. The home she designed for us is custom, suited to the lot, and after many variations and work on both her and our part will meet our families needs. It hasn't always been a smooth process but there is no way we could have bought a plan online ad made it work at all. Our area is very unique for each lot and this means that expert help is needed for anything to even get approved. Not having someone design the home was never even on our radar as an option.

  • PRO
    Summit Studio Architects
    2 years ago

    I've seen a number of folks on this forum who are here because they're struggling with the design. Many have all the drafting and construction resources they need. They're just starting off with a bad plan.

    Virgil is right. There's a lot more to it than a conceptual design hence the remaining 80%. If you have another way to get that part done, consider at least having an architect do your concept.

  • kudzu9
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    phooneycat-

    You are probably overestimating what an architect would cost for that level of work. Architect fees that end up at 10-12% are typically for complete, detailed plans, as well as services during the course of the build. To have an architect do initial plans good enough to develop rough estimates of construction costs from would be much less money. It's true that it would be a sunk cost if you walked away from it, but I'm guessing you could get to a decision point for half of that. As I mentioned above, I got complete plans but chose to get little or no help from the architect after I picked the contractor, and that reduced my costs significantly.

  • robw1963
    2 years ago

    I like to bake. Today, I was making a cake that takes, all told, about a day to complete and as I was working the thought kept popping into my head that my kitchen is a nice place to store a table, stove, refrigerator, and a dishwasher, but it's a horrible place to actually bake something. However, I could fix it on my own without needing an architect to tell me what's wrong with it. If I'm ever fortunate enough to build a new home, I know immediately what I need to change. But many people are hesitant to accept that responsibility and feel the need to have their hands held. If it helps someone to sleep at night, by all means hire them.


    One point as well about professional services. While an architect may very well be considered a "professional" to conflate their services the same way one needs a doctor or a lawyer smacks of self-importance. If the figure that only two percent of the homes are designed by architects is true (and I have no reason to believe it isn't) that means 98 percent of the homes out there are standing without an architect's input. I doubt that 98 percent of people who need a bypass operation accept that they don't need a qualified heart surgeon to perform it. Not using one service can cost you your life. The other, mere inconvenience and maybe a few thousand dollars to fix a mistake they were being paid not to make in the first place. If Fallingwater was in private hands today, the owner would be cursing Frank Lloyd Wright on a daily basis, if they weren't too busy fishing their furniture out of Bear Run.

  • cpartist
    2 years ago

    Robw, you think you can design a complete kitchen without help from someone more experienced? Good luck with that. Just go onto the kitchen forum and you'll see thread after thread where people were sure they knew what they were doing, only to have cabinets banging into one another, or having fridges that can't open, or dishwashers hitting islands, etc. And designing a kitchen to work well is small potatoes compared to designing a functioning house with all its mechanical and technical needs.

    While it's true that only 2% of homes are designed by architects, it's also true that most are designed in collaboration with builders and draftsman, not homeowners. And builders have a tendency to build the same house over and over because they know what works and doesn't work for the house. And in most cases its built to bare minimum standards too. If you're ok with that, great. Many of us here on this forum are not.

    I know of a person who thought like you. They actually started with an architect but they kept thinking they knew better so they left the architect, went to a draftsman and had the draftsman draw up a plan. Yep it will probably work, but it is probably one of the ugliest houses I've seen with rooms that don't flow well and utilities in odd spaces.

  • robw1963
    2 years ago

    CP, I'm very familiar with your project and what's happened with it, and you strike me as someone who needs the reassurance that an architect can provide, but you have absolutely no idea what I can or cannot do.

  • kudzu9
    2 years ago

    robw1963-

    I think stating that architects represent themselves as professionals to conflate their services with, say, lawyers is a bit of an overreach for me. Many licensed architects actually spend as much time getting their degrees as attorneys do, sometimes more. And while I have a lot of respect for attorneys I know and have used, I don't think of them as having a whole lot of vision and creativity. They provide a service, just like my dentist, my financial adviser, my architect, and my mechanic. And architects charge a lot less per hour than my plumber. Other than doctors, none of these other jobs provide life-and-death services, but in the end -- for me -- they are all providing professional services. And just because only a small percent of people choose to, or are able to afford to, work directly with an architect doesn't mean that using one is an elitist concept. I also agreed with cpartist that there are relatively few homes that don't have an architect involved, even if it's invisible to the home buyer. There are good architects and bad architects, and if I were an architect I wouldn't be proud to claim ownership of some tract style homes. But I still respect the work architects do as an important profession, whether I am in an impressive public building, a cleanly-designed office building, an efficient hospital, or a great individual home.

  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    2 years ago

    Kudzu, an architect was in the process somewhere for all these houses, at least for the original one or two dozen. He may not have been very good, or the contractor who hired him may have limited his creativity severely, but somewhere at sometime there was an architect involved.

    As for people not using someone other than a doctor for their triple by-pass; well, no, they must have a licensed physician with hospital privileges. But more and more, even in a pediatrician's office or the OB/GYN office, the patient sees a Nurse Practitioner, not a doctor. And in the future we will see a doctor, less and less. And yes, our medical care will be right up there with the "one size fits all" tract houses. Very scary...

  • phooneycat
    2 years ago

    kudzu9 - Perhaps I overestimated the cost of an architect at that time. I don't like uncertainty and in fact, all this uncertainty with my house build (which is almost done hallelujah) has really stressed me out. I have a good friend who had recently built a home that paid $75K for an architect. The first design they came up with was going to cost double what he had in mind to spend. They pared that house down and it still ended up costing him quite a bit more. Strangely, he roughed in one of his planned for bathrooms instead of completing it to save on costs. And this was at the tail end of the recession when contractors were hungry work. While his house is beautiful, I just couldn't risk paying that much for an architect and not being able to put in all the bathrooms.

  • kudzu9
    2 years ago

    phooneycat-

    Entirely understandable. I was fortunate with all of my projects, but they were not without stress. When you are talking those kinds of numbers it would give anyone pause.

    Your friend's experience is not uncommon because, when you are in the design stage and you're loving everything, and you want to add just a little more, it's easy for it to incrementally get away from everyone. That's why it's always a good idea to get the architect to tell you the built costs of his/her recent projects for similar-sized houses and their level of finish as a reality check up front, and to raise potential cost at every subsequent meeting.

  • Denita
    2 years ago

    ^Exactly. Working with an architect is a collaborative process between the architect and the client. If your friend spent more on his build than budgeted it was either an inadequate budget to start (possible) or your friend changed the parameters during the design phase. I have clients of mine change their parameters all the time as a natural part of the real estate buying process. Sometimes the spaces/properties increase in size and change location and sometimes the properties decrease in size and change location. But in each and every instance it is a buyer decision - just like your friend decided to change some of his/her criteria with the architect.

  • Architectrunnerguy
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    And a successful collaboration with an architect requires the critical element of trust. I've reposted what's below many times before but for the lurkers and new folks, I think it merits posting again. And here I'm referring to face to face clients but I've turned down forum folks also because I felt there was minimal or very little trust in me on their part likely resulting in a frustrating exercise doomed to failure.

    A good architect, when given the chance, will provide a design that can give a client everything they want, but often in ways completely unexpected. But for that to happen it takes a critical element necessary on the part of the client in every successful project and that element is trust.

    Often during our initial meeting, the client will reveal their ability or inability to trust others. If I feel the element of trust is not there they will likely be referred to a permit drafter. A creative person should explore other approaches with you in the spirit of "That's great but have you thought of this.......". But for that to be carried forward successfully it takes a trusting client to not only allow the architect to expand on alternative ideas but to objectively look at other approaches in a collaborative effort with the architect. And that's an intangible that all successful projects are born out of.

    And as an aside, that's why the charrette process works so well in that ideas can be explained, heard, modified, explored, remodified and evaluated all in their rough form and all in real time. I can't tell you how many times a client sitting across the table from me has said "Wow! We never thought of that. We like the kitchen idea but how 'bout if we move the entry here and the...." As I hand them the pen. In some of those design sessions the client commands the pen almost as much as I do!

    Just be ready to expect any preconceived ideas to be questioned. They may in fact turn out to be perfectly valid but at least they've been evaluated against alternates as any good architect should do.

    Finally, regarding preconceived ideas, I've quoted on this board before these two quotes by two creative people.....

    Henry Ford observed "If I had asked people what they wanted they would have told me "A faster horse".

    And Steve Jobs mused “A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them. Everyone wanted an iPhone when they first appeared, but no one could have described what they wanted before seeing one".

    So put trust in your architect to carry you through the process in the spirit of Mr. Ford and Mr. Jobs and you'll have a home that is the very best.

  • Natalie H.
    2 years ago
    “So put trust in your architect to carry you through the process in the spirit of Mr. Ford and Mr. Jobs and you'll have a home that is the very best.”
    Trust is something that every single professional must EARN with every single person they come by. Trust is not something to give and put into somebody. Then visionaries of the caliber of Ford and Jobs are hard to come by even if you look very hard for them.
  • Architectrunnerguy
    2 years ago

    How can trust be earned for a project or from an owner if not a single line has been drawn for that project? After 41 years of doing this, I know it has to exist from the very start for a successful conclusion. For example, look at the remotes in one of my "ideabooks". In all of those there was trust in me BEFORE a single idea was put on paper.

  • lookintomyeyes83
    2 years ago

    As someone who considers Steve Jobs the antithesis of trustworthy, trust is often represented differently by each person. Or as my coworker puts it, you need to 'find your type of crazy'.

    For us, (as I've often repeated), we just couldn't find an architect in our area that even liked our conceptual ideas (only the paycheque), so we designed/built on our own (after much learning). If we had a local architect like ARG whose posts and willingness to help others on this forum, without resorting to slights or offcolor commentary has impressed me, we may have chosen the architect route.

    That said, we did our own light study, design charette, program document, terrain modeling, designed our house from the inside + outside together, maximized views both inside and out, and overall are very happy with our own home. But I did learn from books, architects on and off this forum, and a variety of peeps in doing so.

  • Natalie H.
    2 years ago

    trust in me BEFORE a single idea was put on paper.

    I would not call it trust. I would call it a leap of faith.


  • Natalie H.
    2 years ago

    Regarding opulent houses in portfolios. Opulence often conceals major flaws of layout, design, and craftsmanship. Overwhelmed by the grandness of houses, a naive consumer bites the bait (or does not because most people cannot afford or do not want those houses). Again, pictures do not help you evaluate the thinking process that went into planning and designing the house, the inventiveness and ingenuity. An architect, a designer, or a home owner can only describe those through words that accompany the visuals. The hardest houses that would highlight the mastery of an architect would be a modest in size house with a seemingly plain design and layout. Static pictures would not tell its story.

  • PRO
    Summit Studio Architects
    2 years ago

    A lot of food for thought here. I'm just grateful for all the people who've put their faith and trust in me over the years. Many of them have been fellow professionals: physicians, attorneys, CPAs, dentists and engineers appreciate professional services and who know how difficult it is to acquire and maintain a license.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Bob asked, "Well...after all this discussion, why don't architects design more houses...huh?

    Well, Bob, in many cases its because architects, like many others, have families who like to eat, go to the movies, and have a roof over their heads. That means architects need to make a living...a living sufficient to pay for keeping the office open, pay the staff, and make sufficient profit to reinvest in the business to keep it current...and to provide for family needs. In a great many cases, residential projects and fees take an inordinate amount of time and pay a great deal less than other types of projects...so even if an architect loves to do houses, they may not be able to afford to do very many...

    "Hummmph", Bob snorted..."and what about all these comments about architects can't control costs and many of their designs have to be redesigned...how 'bout that, Brother?"

    Well, Bob, sit down, take off your cowboy boots and let me explain some things.

    First, architects (and even builders) can't predict or control the changing expenses of labor and materials. The hourly rate of plumbers and the price of copper tubing are things beyond the control of architects. And builders. And unpredictable events like Hurricane Harvey and natural disasters (think fires in California) may significantly disrupt and change available materials, labor and the availability and prices of both.

    Second, Bob, is what I call "cumulative mission creep". Enthused consumers, deciding to build their long awaited "forever" house, add spaces and finishes beyond the original scope discussed for the project because...well...because it's their "forever" house, they always wanted these extras...and, after all, how much more can it really cost?

    Third, is the change in scope once construction has begun. Sometimes, after a consumer has signed off on the drawings and construction begins, the consumer family walks through the early framed building and says something like, "This is the kitchen? I never knew it was this small...how will we get my humongous island in here...and the coal-fired range we got from Granny Lulu Bell...we have to make this space much, much larger!"

    "Oh, and by the way", one of the spouses may say, "I've been watching HGTV recently, and I've got some wonderful photos here from Pinterest and Houzz, and I need to add a large pantry."

    How large?, the architect and builder ask looking apprehensively at one another. "Large enough for this great double door free-standing freezer, and this wonderful warming oven with all the cabinets", the spouse replies. "...Just look at these photos I found last week...aren't they beautiful?"

    And lastly, Bob...are you listening, Bob? Why do you have your head on the table...?

    Lastly, when the architect suggests to this couple (and others) that their requests (or their indecision, or their changes) will likely cause the project to exceed the initial budget, and possibly delay the schedule significantly, one or the other spouse will respond, "Well...it's our budget and it's our schedule...we're paying you to do what we want and make us happy...don't you understand it's our "forever" home? Make those changes...and make it snappy, Cowboy!"

    At this point, Bob raised his head from the table, looked me in the eye, while reaching down and putting his cowboy boots on and said, "Well...all of this is well and good...but all this talk makes me thirsty...how's about me and you going to get a big foamy tall one, and talk about something really important...I'm gonna buy some new little heifers this afternoon!"

    Thus endeth the discussion of residential cost control. Heifers always take priority over anything else...

  • cpartist
    2 years ago

    CP, I'm very familiar with your project and what's happened with it, and you strike me as someone who needs the reassurance that an architect can provide, but you have absolutely no idea what I can or cannot do.

    Actually your comment shows me that you're not as familiar about my project as you think since I didn't use an architect to design mine. Mine was designed by me, with help from the architects and others on this forum. I wish I had used an architect because it most likely would have saved me months and months of back and forth with an incompetent draftsman and the mistakes found after framing because of his incompetence , maybe wouldn't have happened.

    If I were to ever even consider building again (not likely after what I've been going through and at my age), my first call would be to an architect.


  • Holly Stockley
    2 years ago

    To illustrate Virgil's point:

    We asked Mark to design us a house. He looked over the lot, asked us some question, then sent us a list of necessary spaces and approximate sizes. My husband and I looked them over and went, "Gee, that mudroom needs to house the dog crates, it'll have to be bigger," "You know, that Autism room Mark put in there is a fabulous idea, let's keep that," "Oooh, you know what would be NEAT?!?!" etc. Mark drew up a concept.

    We love it, it's great!! Ummm... how big is this?

    Way too big. Our own fault for going "Mohr Bigger!!" repeatedly.

    We're now looking over what we have dubbed the "Fun Size" version. Which, to my great delight, has kept most of the charm while being significantly less extravagant. There are changes to be made (and some of those will be deletions of things that are probably STILL too extravagant for my modest budget, while a few will be move or add).

    Spending quite a long time in the design phase MAY actually end up helping us out. By the time we're ready to break ground, hopefully lumber and labor will come back down at least somewhat as the rebuilding from this hurricane season gets less frenetic.

    But Mark has no control over us asking for more than we could afford the first time. And our builder can't control commodity prices and has a limited ability to control labor prices. So we have to be ready to give up or put off certain things to account for all of that. Not blame somebody else. I'd also really, REALLY like to have everything I can picked out and stick to it and absolutely minimize any change orders. That way, when the design is finalized, it will get bid out with as many things as possible selected in advance and should be reasonably accurate - barring things changing price or becoming unavailable or any of the other things that just happen when you're building a house.

    Wish me luck on that one

  • robw1963
    2 years ago

    Actually CP I never said you used an architect. I said you strike me as someone who needed one based on your numerous posts. There's a difference.

  • phooneycat
    2 years ago

    My friend for sure was enthusiastic about his build but not extravagant. I'm sure he was on Houzz and maybe Pinterest and perhaps he watched HGTV. The horror! I'm sure that he didn't know that his architect was secretly cringing at his enthusiasm by getting ideas of what was new and what was out there and exploring all the possibilities. He did splurged on windows to take advantage of his views, an ipe deck, his Vent-a-Hood hood, and his modern garage door. He saved by using his old full depth fridge, stubbing in a bathroom and doing his own landscaping. Nothing crazy or over the top; all well done.

    I'm all for using an architect if one is available to use at a cost that you can afford. I do admire anything beautiful and functional, whether it be architecture, landscape or decor, and admire those who do it well. If we ever build again, and that is a possibility as my husband dreams of owning a lakefront property, we would probably hire an architect. But I will do so with my eyes open.

  • kayce03
    2 years ago

    Holly - We have a “Fun Size” version of our house too! Ha! We have since scaled back things to get it back into our budget. We’ve spent probably 6 more months on design than we expected to, also (we thought to break ground this past September, it’s looking more like February).

  • kudzu9
    2 years ago

    Natallie-

    Opulent houses in portfolios are helpful to me...as a sign to run the other way. If an architect caters to people who want bling, I would know that it was a bad match for my "less is more" taste.

  • cpartist
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Actually CP I never said you used an architect. I said you strike me as someone who needed one based on your numerous posts. There's a difference.

    To repeat what you said, "but you have absolutely no idea what I can or cannot do."

    Don't assume because I was smart enough to get input into my build that I did or didn't need an architect. There's a difference between

    1. needing an architect as you implied I needed,

    2. thinking your brilliant enough to do it all on your own and that you know better than professionals or

    3. being smart enough to know that it's a good practice to vet ones ideas with others who might be able to point out the good and the not so good in design and/or architecture.

    I fall into the third category. From your comments, you obviously fall into the second category.

  • David Shawver
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Over the last two weeks we have been interviewing architects and turn key contractors. We have a 40 year old ranch style home that sits on one acre in south Texas. Property in this area has skyrocketed in value. So we decided to keep the land and remodel or demo the existing home and build new. At our price point an architect typically charges 15-20K for a ready to build set of drawings. If you shop online you can generally find a floor plan that will work for you and often times the architects will make changes for you. Complete build plans start at $900 and top out at about $2500 for the 3000-3500 sq foot plans we are looking at. While the second option is not a custom home it is quite a bit less expensive. I'd rather put those dollars into construction than customization drawings. Our selected contractor also employs his own architect and construction engineer.

  • cpartist
    2 years ago

    gwrace, all I can say is too many times you get what you pay for. It's been proven over and over on this forum.

  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    2 years ago

    If one is building on a typical lot in a subdivision, then it probably makes little sense to hire an architect; one will likely end up over-building the house and the neighborhood. But if one has a very special piece of property, be it a lake/sea view, mountains or just a gorgeous piece of land, then having an architect design a house for that specific piece of land, to use it to its fullest advantage, is well worth the money. Why would anyone want to build a subdivision, generic house on a very special piece of property?

    I am aware that is some parts of the country, there are "lake-view subdivisions", and in this case, I might just treat it as a subdivision house whose only connection to water is the main water line. But a lovely, very special piece of property deserves far more personal attention.

  • kudzu9
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    gwrace-

    There is a whole range of valid approaches to residential design. Some people don't care about "architecture" as long as their house is adequate for their basic needs and keeps the rain off their heads. The other end of the spectrum is people who have a lot of very specific ideas, or love the concept of design, or want a unique home. You are somewhere in the middle where the house is important to you, but your primary goal is to find the best the floor plan at a reasonable price and optimize it. That is an entirely reasonable way to get a house that meets your needs. However, I will point out that using an architect is not simply paying someone a lot more money to get a good floor plan designed from scratch. A really good architect can do things with the organization and feel of the the space, the light, and the choice of materials that simply aren't options when shopping for plans online. To illustrate the point I am trying to make, I've included a link below to the web site of an architect I know in the Pacific NW. He designs houses that are clean and simple without excessive ornamentation, and it's a style that works well in this area where there are a lot of views and natural beauty, but it is also gloomy and rainy for months at a time, and getting lots of light is important. It's a look that some people would not find to their taste or lifestyle. But you can see by looking at some of the designs that you can't achieve these types of results by searching online and tweaking the plan that most appeals to you: Rhodes Architecture This is why some people will hire an architect: even though it may mean that there is a bit less money for the construction budget, they may get more satisfaction out of the end result and a house that may work better for them even if it is not as large as a more conventional, off-the-shelf house.

  • bry911
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I would like to mention the one thing that often gets ignored when discussing cost of an architect versus the cost of online plans. That being, that none of these discussed prices are actually costs.

    Cost is something a lot harder to pin down to a line item number. I am not going to say which is more cost effective because that depends on what your goals are and finding the people who can make those goals a reality. However, I noticed when looking through online plans I see lots of unnecessary costs. It doesn't take many odd bump-outs, steel beams, and angled interior walls to completely destroy any savings created by paying a lower price up front.

    Also a set of plans might seem sufficient to build from, but I suspect many architects have caught many mistakes in the translation from plans to completion. So having an actual person that you can communicate with makes a difference.

    I don't believe an architect is always necessary (sorry guys), there are small economical and proven houses that basically say "make my house look exactly like my neighbor's so I can sell it in 5 years." However, I also don't think architects are actually out of the budget nearly as often as people believe they are.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    2 years ago

    Nice link, Kudzu9--thanks!

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    2 years ago

    Bry911 makes excellent points about the "costs" of an architect.

    Yes, one will pay more up front than buying a set of plans from a plan factory.

    But, then consider that from an architect:

    --The design is site specific: that not only means that the plans originate with the nature and characteristics of the site, but also that one doesn't pay extra to find ways to make generic plan factory plans fit and orient to a given site;

    --The design is specific to the life style, needs (some wants), budget and schedule of the consumer. Said differently, the design is based on the way the consumer wants to live, and the consumer does not have to fit their lifestyle to a generic plan;

    --The plan incorporates all of the details, specifications and choices of the consumer, so that later choices and pressures are minimized. Generic plans have none of this information or decision-making, putting, what is for some folks, an unbelievable amount of pressure on them during construction. Read the threads on this forum.

    --Architect's designs minimize or eliminate allowances, which often cause surprising extra expenses on generic "skeletal" plans from plan factories and drafters. The allowances, changes and delays due to the insufficient and incomplete plans from the plan factories and drafters may often exceed the cost of architectural services. Consumers only realize this during and after actual construction.

    --Architects are the consumer's agent during construction. As agent, the architect's only responsibility is to ensure the consumer's interests are fairly represented. Using plans from a plan factory or drafter means the consumer will have to deal directly with the builder and sub contractors and be personally responsible for their own interests.

    So how much is all this worth? Does one want to minimize initial design expenses and pay in dollars, time and morale during the rest of the project? And have shelter as opposed to architecture?

    Everyone is different--different stroke for different folks.

    Bob recommends consumers do their homework and due diligence up front before making a decision as to which direction to proceed for a new custom home...

    Be like Bob!

  • kudzu9
    2 years ago

    Virgil-

    All excellent points! I think one of the issues is that, until you have some experience using an architect, you may have difficulty appreciating why you would want to use an architect. ;-)

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    2 years ago

    Kudzu9, Cowboy Bob says you hit the nail on the head...you don't know what you don't know, 'till ya larn it...!

    Bob's a pretty smart ole' boy, in spite of how he dresses...

  • summersrhythm_z6a
    2 years ago

    Who is Bob?

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    2 years ago

    Bob's a rancher here in the Texas Hill Country (with his wife Lulu Belle and wonder dog Spot), and he's my very good friend...

    To know him is to love him...:-)

  • summersrhythm_z6a
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    That sounds really fishy.......are you Bob? It"s time to tell the truth, but the truth. You don't want your overly tight cowboy jeans on fire, right? Have you ever heard " liar liar pants on fire" in TX? Hehehe

  • One Devoted Dame
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    That sounds really fishy.......are you Bob?

    I bet Bob loves to fish.

    You don't want your overly tight cowboy jeans on fire, right?

    Who says cowboy jeans are "overly tight"? Methinks they're "just right."

    ;-)

  • summersrhythm_z6a
    2 years ago

    Lol One Devoted Dame! You're a forum admin, aren't you? Got ya.

  • One Devoted Dame
    2 years ago

    You're a forum admin, aren't you?

    No, sadly, but if they approached me with a job offer, I'd have a hard time turning it down. This forum is too much fun.

    I gotta say, Summer, you aren't the first one to ask me if I'm an admin on a forum. Maybe it's better that I'm not, if people are likely to suspect me of it!

  • summersrhythm_z6a
    2 years ago

    Yes, a lot of fun indeed. Hope you become one someday. :-)

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    2 years ago

    Summersrhythm, Bob's a Wrangler boy, but I grew up with Levis...can't go wrong with either one, I think!

    Ms. ODD keeps all of us in line here...even Bob! :-)

  • summersrhythm_z6a
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    In line for real? :-) Artists were born to be off line, free spirit souls. I think that Bob of yours does not exist in real life. Got ya. :-) Got a photo of Bob in Wrangler? I am sure other people here want to meet him too.