How Can An Architect Help You?
You have a vision of what you want. Now you need to make that vision a reality. Here’s how architects can help you:
- Architects see the big picture
- Architects are specially educated to help you define what you want to build, present options you might never have considered, and help you get the most for your valuable investment. They don’t just design four walls and a roof — they create total environments, both interiors and exteriors, that are functional and exciting places in which to work and live.
- Architects solve problems creatively
- Architects are trained problem solvers. Need more room for your growing family? Architects can show you how to enlarge your home so you won’t have to move. Have a limited budget? Architects can propose ways to get more for your investment than you imagined possible.
- Architects help you get the most from your construction dollar
- Architects can reduce building costs, decrease your home’s energy needs, and increase its future resale value through good design.
- Architects make your life easier
Building is a long process that is often messy and disruptive, particularly if you’re living in the space while it’s under construction. Your architect represents you, not the contractors. Your architect looks out for your interests and smoothes the process, helps find qualified construction contractors, and visits the work site to help protect you against work that’s not according to plan. Speak with an architect who is a member of The American Institute of Architects (AIA) at the earliest stage of the design process.
15 Recommendations from People Who Have Done It….
1. Remember, you get what you pay for.
2. Do not expect to save money by hiring non-professionals.
3. Take time to plan for your project. Allow your architect and builder the time needed to properly design and build.
4. Do not allow your architect or builder to rush you to decisions (about detailing, materials, etc.).
5. Make all design decisions BEFORE construction begins–it gets very expensive to change your mind later (it is far easier to erase a line than to remove a wall.)
6. Resist revisiting decisions once you make them. Every decision affects work done after it; changes can be costly.
7. Carefully conduct necessary surveys, title searches, and similar research.
8. It is not reasonable to expect that a building project will heal a relationship; it won’t.
9. It is unwise to try to fit your needs into a beloved design. Instead, allow a design to grow from a thorough understanding of your needs.
10. Ask many questions until you get the answers you need in language you can understand.
11. Monitor construction and ask questions about anything you don’t understand.
12. Do not substitute ‘bargain’ materials for good materials.
13. Allow budget contingencies for both design and construction.
14. Observe construction so you will be more likely to catch errors early.
15. Have fun. Designing and building a house can be a very enjoyable experience!
Factors That Affect Design
Every project situation is different. Each presents a different set of requirements and limitations. Each presents a unique set of cultural, environmental, technological, and aesthetic contexts to be considered. Each presents its own set of challenges and opportunities. Design brings to the surface the major considerations inherent in a situation. It is a process that is both problem- seeking and problem-solving. Every project has a unique combination of design influences.
CLIENT. Some clients have a clear idea of a program, budget, and other project objectives, including the final appearance of the building. Others look to their architect to help them define the project objectives and to design a building that meets those objectives. In both cases the effectiveness of the relationship between client and architect is a major factor in making design decisions throughout the project.
PROGRAM. All clients have a series of aspirations, requirements, and limitations to be met in design. The program provides a place for identifying and delineating these factors and any number of related considerations. The program may be short or long, general or specific, descriptive of needs, or suggestive of solutions.
CODES AND REGULATIONS. Regulatory constraints on design have increased steadily. Beginning with simple safety requirements and minimal land-use zoning, building codes and regulations have grown into a major force in design that regulates nearly every aspect of design and construction.
CONTEXT AND CLIMATE. Contextual factors include the nature of the surrounding fabric of natural and built elements. Existing patterns and characteristics of this fabric can provide clues or starting points for approaching site development as well as the building design, influencing its configuration and use of materials, colors, and textures. Climatic factors include the nature of regional microclimates defined by solar radiation, temperatures, humidity, wind, and precipitation.
SITE. Site factors include size; configuration; topography; geotechnical characteristics; ecological features, including vegetation, wildlife habitats, water elements, and drainage; and accessibility to property. Building design as it relates to site factors is critical to the success of any project.
BUILDING TECHNOLOGY. Building configuration, materials, and systems are rarely arbitrarily chosen and are only partially based on aesthetic criteria. In today’s world, many possibilities exist for building systems, structural components, windows, roofing and interior finishes, to name just a few. Consideration of local builders’ knowledge and preferences must be included, too. And, cost (initial and long- term) is integral to the decision-making process relative to building technologies.
COST. In most cases, there is a limit to the funds available for construction. Once defined, this limit has a major influence on subsequent design decisions, from building size and configuration to material selection and detailing. Although most budgets are fixed (often by the amount of financing available), others may be flexible. For example, some owners are willing to increase initial budgets to achieve overall life-cycle cost savings. Others are willing to do so to increase the quality of their house.
SCHEDULE. The demands and constraints set by the project schedule may influence how specific issues are explored and considered. For example, an alternative requiring a time-consuming zoning variance may be discarded in favor of one that can keep the project on schedule. Another example may include committing to a final site plan early in the process—before the building footprint on the site plan is fully designed.
SUSTAINABILITY. In its broadest scope, sustainability refers to the ability of a society, ecosystem, or any such ongoing system to continue functioning into the future, without being forced into decline through exhaustion or overloading of the key resources on which that system depends. For architecture, this means design that delivers buildings and communities with lower environmental impacts while enhancing health, productivity, community, and quality of life. An integrated approach to sustainable design will include all design factors listed herein.