Continuing from my recent post about why you should hire an architect, I thought I’d write a little bit more about how using an architect can save you time and maybe even money.
Everyone knows that an architect designs a building but a lot of people don’t realize how we help during construction. It’s not uncommon for client to hire us to design and draw their new house or renovation and, then, for them to take the drawings to a contractor and not call us again. This is fine, of course, as most of the time a residential project is going to be pretty straightforward. Even for simple project though, it can take a lot of time on the part of the client to make sure everything goes smoothly. I have heard of instances where the client ended up taking a leave of absence from their job in order to manage their construction project. This is clearly an instance in which it might make more sense to have your architect manage the construction administration phase of the project.
What does an architect do during construction? There are many things but I'll try to list a few here. We answer the contractor’s questions, clarify the intent of the design drawings, ensure that the best and most cost effective products are chosen, and generally make sure that the building is being built as designed. An architect will also oversee the costs of construction by having the GC submit their bills to us for review before sending them on to the client. We make sure that everything the contractor is billing for has actually been built or purchased and that the contractor is not asking for money for things that haven’t really been done.
Everyone has heard horror stories about contractors getting lots of money up front to buy materials and then running off without actually doing any work. Fortunately that’s never happened to one of our clients but that’s probably because we recommend not paying the contractors in advance. A reputable contractor will have lines of credit with suppliers and will not need cash in advance. Of course, your architect can also help you make sure you hire a good contractor!
For those of you with more questions about what an architect does, there are many books out there about the process of hiring and using an architect. Or, you can just e-mail me and I’m happy to answer any questions you have.