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Whether you are building a new home or doing a massive home renovation, you need a good architect to help draw up the design plans.
An architect will help achieve your design goals and create satisfying living spaces based on your needs that meet zoning by-laws, building codes, at the best possible price.
This is because they are knowledgeable in the latest design trends and construction materials that are within your budget but are of good quality.
Selecting the best architect is one of the most important decisions you will need to make regarding your new home construction.
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Not everyone realizes the complexity of building a home until they become lost in the chaos of design, building codes, contractors, and zoning by-laws.
An architect is a licensed professional with the education and training to guide you through the design and construction process so that you can get the most value from your investment.
Architects can envision the whole picture of your project and will help you get dynamic living spaces that would satisfy your lifestyle and needs.
Architects work on new home construction, remodel, home renovations, home additions, and all other types of construction.
Your architect will make the entire construction process go smoothly in partnership with your contractor. Projects can be messy and disrupt your life, especially if you are renovating a home you live in. But with a good architect, your life will be much easier.
Architects offer problem-solving
“I need more light in my bedroom. I want more space for storage. I need another bathroom on the second floor.” These are examples of needs and wants that can be communicated to an architect so that a proper design can be drawn for your consideration.
Architects are trained to solve problems creatively but unlike untrained people like you and me, architects can anticipate potential issues and come up with credible solutions. They can also offer alternatives that you may not realize on your own.
If you need more livable space, an experienced architect can show you how to enlarge your house so you don’t need to buy a new home.
Architects can help you save money because when your project is well-planned, it can be constructed economically. Architectural plans will enable your contractor to price and construct your home accurately.
Professionally-made designs are also energy-efficient, with a design maximizing natural light and heat to reduce your cooling and heating costs.
With a well-conceived design, future repairs are minimized to save money over the long-term.
An architect can help you to choose the right materials and workmanship for a reasonable price that suits your budget.
Lastly, a well-designed and constructed house can fetch a higher price at resale.
Architectural services usually entail the design and preparation of design plans, drawings, and other documents needed in a construction project. They can also offer solutions related to design or construction problems to assist your general contractor.
Whether it is a complex or simple project, the services of a good architect are essential.
Below are the general steps that your architect will follow:
1. Programming and Design
Your architect will discuss with you what you want to build and get your requirements (number of rooms, other special areas you want, function, etc.). He will test your initial wants against your budget.
2. Rough sketch or design
The architect will deliver a few rough sketches or schematic design to visualize your home. You will approve these sketches or request revisions.
3. Finalizing the Design
Based on any revisions you want, the architect now prepares the proposed design with floor plans to show the correct size and shape of the rooms. Materials and finishing of rooms will also be listed.
4. Construction Documents
After the design is approved, the architect will prepare detailed specifications that the contractor will use to build the project and estimate the cost.
5. Choosing the contractor
A homeowner has to choose the contractor. Usually, several bids are sought from licensed contractors. An architect can also recommend contractors he has worked with in the past. He can also prepare the instructions to the bidders.
6. Construction Administration
During construction, the architect assists the homeowner in ensuring that the project complies with plans and specifications. He makes site visits now and them to observe and review the project’s status whenever the contractor requests for payment.
Know that architects are allowed to engage in their profession only if they are registered or licensed in your province.
In Quebec, the Ordre des architectes du Quebec (OAQ) ensures that all architects in the province adhere to the Professional Code and the Architects Act.
Most people are nervous at hiring an architect because the fees may be expensive. Understanding these fees will give you a better perspective of the cost.
Architect’s fees generally consist of 2 parts:
· Architectural fees
· Out-of-pocket expenses for communications, travel, reproduction of documents)
If you reach an agreement with an architect as to the nature and extent of his services, he will propose his compensation in the following ways:
· Fixed or flat fee
· Time-based fees (hourly or per diem)
· Percentage fee based on the total cost of the construction
These methods can also be combined depending on the scope of his work.
Usually, the homeowner will pay a retainer upon signing the contract.
The basis or method of compensation, payment schedule, and the amount of the fees are issues you need to work out with your architect.
Once you choose your architect, make sure to put the terms of your agreement in writing that stipulates the scope of his services and his compensation.
The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) recommends a Canadian standard form of Agreement between the architect and client.
An architect may require the services of an electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, or a structural engineer. Their services are usually coordinated by an architect.
These consultants can be engaged by:
· The architect acting as a the primary consultant
· The homeowner hires these consultants and requests the architect to work with them.
Whichever method is used, the architect will be responsible for managing sub-consultants throughout the project.
As the owner of the property, you need to provide relevant information when you hire design specialists and sub-consultants such as civil engineers, land surveyors, etc. You are also responsible for the payment of their fees.
Qualifications-based selection (QBS) is the most common method for selecting an architect. It involves comparing 3 or more quotes and checking factors such as:
Other criteria must also include:
While you can get referrals from your friends or acquaintances, it is best to get an unbiased list of professionals you can choose from based on their qualifications.
In the end, you should select the architect who inspires your trust and confidence. The right architect is one that can provide the technical expertise, creativity and inspiration, and competence at a reasonable price.
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