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Not Sure How an Architect Helps?
Frequently Asked Questions

There’s a perception that architects provide a simple service –– drawings so the builder knows what to do.

Many people think of “blueprints,” but that’s only the last in a long list of things an architect does. Below are some of the frequently asked questions that clients often ask. The answers will prepare you for the journey toward creating the project you need.

There are many options available when considering architects. Why would I select anyone but the cheapest?

This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions. The cheapest doesn’t always mean the best value. In fact, it rarely does. Your architect really leverages your investments of time and money to maximize the value of your home. The more you invest in proper planning, the better value you receive in the construction of your home.

There’s a limit, of course; if your investment is going to be a significant statement about how you live and how it performs for you, then you will likely invest more in a design. If what you seek is a simple shelter, then a simpler solution at a lower cost is appropriate. Your architect is there to help guide you. As your goals become more complex and nuanced, so grows your need for competent design talent.

What does an architect do for me anyway?

First and foremost, an architect develops an understanding of your needs, both physically as well as emotionally. The architect knows how to then create spaces that work together not only to support but also enhance your lifestyle.

Architecture refers to the exterior of the house and much more. Where the house sits on the site and how it is oriented can make a huge difference in your enjoyment of your home. Looking within the house, the architect assembles spaces in an elegant way for a beautiful home, keeping firmly in mind the important aspects of schedule and budget.

When needed, the architect helps clients navigate municipal requirements, permits, and the special privileges of variances.

Many people do not have the benefit of having done this frequently, but the architect does and you, in turn, can benefit from this experience.

Your architect is your partner and collaborator in getting your new home. Because we offer the experience of participating in the construction process and of developing and managing many projects similar in some ways to your own, you don’t have to go through the hardship of learning these lessons yourself.

Won't the whole project cost more if I hire an architect?

The budget is controlled by you, not the architect. In reality, the architect works with you to meet all of your goals, including design, budget, and schedule to reveal the very best value.

Part of the design process is considering the budget and maximizing the value of the house to get the most house for your money. Somebody who’s considering designing their own home has particular needs that aren’t generally available through stock options with a builder. If what you’re looking for is customization for your lifestyle, then you need an architect.

Ultimately, an architect will help you achieve your goals and meet your budget.

What question should my architect ask me?

This is not really a frequently asked question. But it is one that certainly should be. You will find that architects ask mostly the same questions:

  • What rooms do you want?
  • What room sizes?
  • What is your budget?
  • What is your timeline?
  • etc.

There is nothing wrong with these questions. The answers are important to know and we will certainly get to them. There is another question that is rarely if ever, asked of clients. This question gets directly to the reason for the project, its meaning. If you are not being asked this question, you are missing out on one of the most important and compelling explorations of the core of your purpose, one upon which everything else is derived. That question is…

How should this space feel?

Will I be working directly with you or a staff member?

I am personally involved with each project at every stage and commit to giving each project the time and creative attention required for a successful outcome. While larger firms may overbook and move smaller projects to less experienced staff members, I carefully schedule the work to ensure my involvement in each project throughout the entire process.

Can you help us select the right general contractor?

You bet. The Construction phase is a critical component to your project’s success. Design ideas must be properly executed by a qualified and reputable builder. I work with a select group of remarkably talented contractors. Whether your construction budget is $50 thousand or $40 million, I am happy to introduce you to the excellent builders on my pre-qualified list of General Contractors and Construction Managers.

How do you charge for your services?

Architects usually charge a percentage of the total project cost, anywhere from 5%-20%, depending on the services provided, the complexity of the job, and the renown of the architect. We will discuss what percentage is appropriate for your project, and when and how payments will be due.
Architects typically bill monthly, starting as soon as they begin work. But most up-front design work happens before the involvement of a contractor to advise on the total project cost.
In the interim, I may bill by the hour or charge a retainer — a fixed monthly fee — with any necessary adjustments occurring once the real numbers are known. Each billing approach can work well. What’s important is utter clarity about the plan so you know what to expect.

Will we be working in 3D?

Reading a standard two-dimensional plan isn’t easy. Even if you can tell where the walls, windows, and doors are, you may not get an accurate feel for how the design will look in the real world.
This is so important that I won’t work any other way. A lack of 3-D design capabilities may mean the candidate isn’t up to speed on the latest building design techniques and methods.

What about the building permit?

Yes. You need architectural drawings to obtain a building permit. At Mark Eric Benner – Architects we know the code officials, the rules, and steps to help you progress quickly and easily through the permitting process.

How long will design take?

The design process for a new home usually takes four to six weeks. At the end of that time, you will have a detailed design and a dependable cost estimate for construction. After that the construction drawings will require another four to six weeks, depending on the complexity and desired level of service.

I offer a range of services fine-tuned to align with your budget and timeline needs. No matter which one you select, we will follow a tried and true process to ensure that every project maintains the high level of service you deserve. Download my “Architectural Process Guide” to learn more about this reliable experience.

What should I do when when I'm ready to start?

This is exciting. You’re ready to begin the design of your new home. There are a number of items that you will need to share with your architect. In many cases, you have already begun to assemble these items. Sketches, plat of survey, floor plans, photographs, etc. are all things that are useful.

Begin to formulate your budget and timeline. We’ll work with you to bring these into focus, but it helps to begin with your expectations.

I have developed a quick 10-question survey to help you take the first steps. Feel free to download and we can discuss how to get started.

What Questions do you have for Me?

These are but a few of the frequently asked questions.

You may have more. What are you curious about?

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The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.

Benjamin FranklinInventor, Publisher, Philosopher - free but not of noble birth
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