Architectural Articles

Yes, You Can Afford An Architect!

When I was a student of architecture, I had the good fortune to visit the home of Mr. And Mrs. Affleck in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. They had hired Frank Lloyd Wright, America's premier architect of the century, to create an unique house cantilevered over a wooded ravine. The charming, soft-spoken Gregor Affleck explained to our small group of impressionable students that in the years following the construction of this remarkable building (in 1940), he had rearranged his work and family life to remain there. He and his wife loved their home that much. He never mentioned the resale value of the house because it was not for sale.

Sadly, public education about architecture is so inadequate that most people do not even know what they are missing in tract houses. And many do not think that they can afford a custom design by an architect. Yet they will invest hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps the biggest investment of their lives, into a building drawn by a builder or unlicensed draftsman. I refer to such mistakes as "missed opportunities."

Rather than assuming that an architect is a luxury that you cannot afford, I would argue that in this day and age and place, an architect is a necessity that you should not do without! If you are merely looking to buy or build minimal shelter, then go for it on your own. But if you care at all about practicality, structural stability, construction economy, energy efficiency, comfort, beauty (that nebulous B-word), and that intangible but wonderfully rewarding "sense of place," consider hiring an architect.

A tongue-in-cheek publication, "Architects Bite!", by the American Institute of Architects (800-AIA-9930) explains that the architect's fee is not just added to the top of your project costs, but that the architect's design can actually save you time and money.

A beautiful custom home designed by an architect will provide years of enjoyable living and bring in a higher resale price if you do choose to move. An architect-designed house will be recognized as a preferred address.

Although affordable, easy-to-build sites are harder to find in Monterey County, an architect can turn a difficult sloped site into an asset with the creative use of grading, retaining walls, or multiple levels. The architect will show you, in sketches and models, more than one way to achieve your dream house fashioned to meet you personal needs and desires.

The architect can help you control costs by recommending economical materials, such as flooring and roofing products, that will stay within your budget. He can recommend trustworthy contractors, craftsmen and suppliers to install selected products on time and within your budget. The architect can assist you in choosing a general contractor and negotiating his cost estimates or bids.

The thoroughness of an architect's complete set of construction drawings and specifications will help control costs by avoiding mistakes during construction later on. His observation of the construction will help solve potentially costly problems that may arise. And if you change your mind, the architect will follow through with any revisions that you may initiate during construction.

While national, state and local government regulations may frustrate or even stop a novice builder, an architect can turn a potentially costly nightmare into a creative design that will not only satisfy government bureaucrats but will exceed the owner's expectations. Local architects have the training and experience to guide you through the bureaucratic maze in the towns and unincorporated areas of Monterey County.

The architect is the single licensed professional with the training and experience to act as your agent and advocate throughout the entire process of design and construction, from sketched concepts to final inspections. Don't enter your home without one.

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