If you are wondering whether you should hire an architect for your upcoming project, you need to understand the range of services architects provides and which might make financial sense for you.
In some municipalities, an architect or engineer is required to at least review and “stamp” the drawings. This is common in large urban areas and those with special building requirements for steep sites, seismic conditions, high winds, or coastal conditions in South Africa.
How do I hire an architect?
There are directories with many architects, which can seem overwhelming once you start looking for the right professional. It's always good to speak to friends and family who have used an architect before. Alternatively if there is a particular building or residence you admire, try to do some research into who designed it. The homify website allows you to browse through many professionals you can shortlist. Once you have chosen the right firm and accept a preliminary design, this is the nitty-gritty work of turning a rough concept of spatial relationships into a real building design with floor plans, a roof design, and some of the interior and exterior trims and details that give a building style and character.
This will usually include some scale drawings, a basic structural plan, and basic specifications for the main components of the building. With modern design software, you can often see your whole house at this point in 3-D and walk around and through the 3D building on the computer screen.
What will it cost to hire an architect?
If you don’t have the time or the necessary skills to design and manage your project yourself, hiring an architect from the start is a good option as you will be relieved of a lot of duties and hassles. Most architects will work for either an hourly rate or for a fixed fee based on a percentage of the construction costs. Typical fees range from 5% to 15% of construction costs for new construction, and from 15% to 20% for remodelling.
You can hire them for just the services you need or that you will find most valuable. Rates would vary from firm to firm and pricing for a full renovation would be higher due to the length it would take on the project from start to finish.
You can also hire architects by the hour if you can’t afford the full architectural service, but would still like input at a professional level.
Why should I hire an architect?
If you've ever wondered what architects can offer, it's usually a comprehensive service that is broken into several phases. Different companies use a different number of steps with slightly different names, but on residential projects they generally fall into five or six main categories of work. They may also hire specialists such as structural engineers or energy consultants, if needed for specific projects.
Schematic design (also called Preliminary Design, Initial Consultation and Design, or Building Program & Site Analysis, among other things) is where the architect visits and analyses the building site and gathers information from the clients about their design ideas, budget, and housing needs to develop a detailed “program,” a written statement of your needs and design goals. Putting it all together, the architect comes up with key concepts and rough sketches showing the size, general layout, and appearance of the building and how it fits into the building site.
A couple of options may be presented. It is critical that you communicate clearly to the architect what is important to you in the design or you can waste a lot of time and money going back and forth on design ideas that do not meet your need