What does an architect do?

Hi.
We are preparing for a major remodel of our existing home, at least doubling the size of a 900 sq ft house. We have the money, we have rough drawings of floor plans, elevations, and firm but flexible ideas of what we want to incorporate into the final structure.
We're ready to take all this to an architect and wonder what we can expect for his fee.
For example, we're aware that he'll probably revise our rough plans extensively to meet code, stud spacing, engineering loads, ergonomic considerations and so on, and perhaps come up with a few neat ideas we haven't thought of. And we're aware that he'll provide all the drawings and materials lists needed for building permits and construction estimates.
Is that normally the extent of an architect's services, or can we expect him to apply for the permits for us? Contact (or recommend) contractors? See the project through to completion?
Or is he done when he hands us the drawings?
-chib
--
(email: change out to in)

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Engineering, i.e. structures that will not fall down.
Advice on materials and cost.
Art and design: he has probably spent more time than you thinking about rooms and their uses.
-- Don Phillipson Carlsbad Springs (Ottawa, Canada) dphillipson[at]trytel.com
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not all, will provide a brief consultation, complete services from site selection through construction observation, or selected elements between those extremes.
These issues come to mind: Zoning regulations; building code; design restrictions by owners association, covenant, or city; Condition and capaity of existing structure, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems; existing condition of roof, windows, and walls; function; appearance; drawings and calculations for building permits; problems encountered in connecting to the existing building.
I always suggest finding a contractor with whom the owner is comfortable and involving him in the process early. In spite of often expressed concerns about over charging, I have not encountered problems when the contractor is carefully selected. Particularly with additions, I think experience, care, and quality work are worth paying for. Here I quote a first rate contractor: "Long after the price is forgotten, the quality remains."
An architect may well suggest contractors whose quality he knows. The owner has a contract with the contractor and another with the architect. The architect is the owner's representative.
The architect will as the owner's representative make presentations to apply for zoning variances. The contractor and his sub contractors will "pull" permits for their work.
If you want more background, you might find used copies of "How to Build a House with an Architect" ISBN 0-397-01124-5, or "Designing Your Client's House" ISBN 0-8230-7142-1.
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wrote:

He'll likely do as much as you want to pay him to do.
Jeff
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Depends on what you want done and how much time it takes. Why not talk to one and find out?
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clipped

heating/electrical/plumbing contractors to see what needs to be done to support the addition? Since you are doubling the size of the home, there must be alterations to supporting walls? Site drainage? Access to utility service? Since you seem sure of the changes you wish to make, you might take your best drawings to city code folks to see if they have concerns/suggestions. May get some valuable and free advice (or nothing at all, depending on where you live :o) When you have gathered all that you can, consult with contractors who have done the level of work you want done and run it by an architect. The contractor, as part of the bid process, may add or suggest changes (free) Then, you know what needs to be done and can talk about cost of architect services. If an architect won't talk without "doing it all", you have choices. I'd be very reluctant to deal with a contractor for such a major remodel unless he has work that has proven itself, licensed, insured, etc., completed projects on time and without complications from subs and no complaints against his license. Architects probably vary widely in services they provide - some probably limit their work to new construction, others, such as semi-retired, probably take on smaller projects. Around these parts, if you add more than half the value of the home and it's in a flood zone, it has to meet the coastal construction requirements (elevating living space, etc). In the condo next door to us, a bunch of owners made changes to the ground floor section of their units, which were mainly garage and utility space - then the insurance company made them remove all the changes because it didn't meet the coastal construction requirements. Complicated stuff :o)
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