SELECTING AN ARCHITECT FAQ
What an Architect does..(Continued).
Considering that it takes hundreds of thousands of dollars (and in some cases, millions) to build a home, a small percentage increase can be a very expensive way to "figure it out". The architect's fee is a tiny fraction of construction costs, but their complete services usually results in overall costs savings to a client.
The difference lies in the knowledge that the architect will be with you every step of the way to guide you throughout the process. Developing the interiors, helping you select kitchen cabinets, door hardware, working out problems as they arise, etc. They don't just drop off a set of drawings and walk out the door. It is about building a relationship. But with everything you do, you need to research the capabilities of whoever you hire to get the job done.
Another consideration is if full blown architectural services are not required (guidance and support) from a license architect, feel free to negotiate with them. Tell them that you would prefer a significantly reduced scope of services and that you will provide them with the indemnification necessary to do so. After all an architect is licensed by the state and has to perform to a "standard of care" that a non license designer is not held to.
We have linked to an interesting article about unlicensed practitioners, from the September 2009 issue of "Architect" (A Hanley Wood publication):
Trust Me, I'm an (Unlicensed) Architect
Architect's Proximity/ Location
Some clients prefer selecting architects who tend to be within close proximity to them or the project site. Others select architects from the nearest big city (ie. San Francisco). Again it's a personal preference. Having one in close proximity or from a certain region has its advantages but in no way has any bearing on the firm's abilities or talents. Some advantages are:
However, With todays rapidly evolving technologies, many good architects (albeit even small firms) have the ability to work on projects around the globe. The advent of BIM ( building information modeling), the internet, collaboration technology etc. have provided tools that enable architects to work on projects in their own communities and abroad.
Note that some architects have worked on projects around the country and the globe. Even if they have never worked in your city before, it is far fetch to assume they would not be able to do so. As an example, Gerard Lee Architects, Inc. can generate designs and have them reviewed by our clients from our secure project web sites no matter where they are located. While we are based in Oakland, California and tend to serve the San Francisco Bay Area and it's surrounding communities, we actually have a global reach and very effective tools that our clients can use to stay updated on their projects, review and comment on the designs. Just look at our portfolio. It's part of our desire to have an open dialogue and to have effective collaboration with our clients and consultants. We use PDFs which are easy to access and read with Adobe Acrobat reader. We can e-mail, fax, courier, upload to the internet our drawings in many different but easily accessible formats for our client's benefit.