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what is an architect?

An architect is a person who plans, designs, and reviews the construction of buildings. 

An architect's decisions affect public safety and quality of life. They must undergo specialized training consisting of advanced education and a practicum (or internship) for practical experience in addition to a series of extensive examinations to earn a license to practice architecture. Architects must also complete yearly continuing education to stay up-to-date on issues/techniques/materials/methods impacting the profession. 

what does an architect do?

The work of an Architect is typically divided up into five "phases" of services.

Projects vary greatly in size and scope so all five phases aren't always required. Some phases may also be combined in order to streamline or "fast-track" the design process.

Phase 1: Schematic Design

During this first phase of the architectural design process, we'll gather information from you and field surveys to create a design option(s) for your consideration. We will generally present these options in the form of sketches, so you can visualize the different routes your project could take.

This is when we'll discuss any design modifications you’d like us to make. Once we arrive at a design that best suits your needs, we will begin the process of refining the design during the Design Development phase.

Phase 2: Design Development

At this point, we will take the schematic design, as well as any requested modifications, and revise the design as necessary. We will also update the cost estimate we provided during the Schematic Design phase to reflect any changes we’ve made to the initial design. We take our clients’ budgets very seriously and continually strive to provide accurate estimates throughout the early stages of design. Including your builder (if you have one) can be helpful here in defining overall anticipated project cost.

This phase may require additional give and take as we work with you to finalize the details of the design before moving into the next phase.

Phase 3: Construction Documents

By now, we will have settled on a final design and will begin preparing drawings, notes, and technical specifications necessary for bidding, construction, and permit application. This is the phase that many people think of when they picture the work of an architect – the creation of "blueprints".

Contractors will use these detailed drawings and specifications to prepare for the next phase in the architectural design process.

Phase 4: Bidding

Having an architect on your side during the bidding phase of home construction is of great advantage to you. At minimum, we can aid you in developing a list of qualified contractors for your bid list and submitting bid packages to bidders. But we can also review submitted bids, provide analysis, and help you compare the cost figures that you receive from your bidders.

This phase will ensure the contractors you are considering for your construction project are reading the blueprints correctly and are providing an accurate bid for your project.

Phase 5: Construction Administration

Finally, once you have selected a contractor and construction is under way, we move into the fifth phase of the architectural design process – construction administration. During this phase, we will administer the construction process to assure conformance with design intent, visit the site during construction, and address any field conditions as they arise.

Bob Vila has some advice on selecting & working with an architect here

Many websites will tell you to expect to pay $150-400/sf but these numbers can vary greatly. Its best to budget a little higher and be pleasantly surprised at having a little leftover cash for a housewarming party or piece of art than to be short at the end and not be able to finish!

Managing expectations..

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