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
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?
Engineering, i.e. structures that will not
Advice on materials and cost.
Art and design: he has probably spent more
time than you thinking about rooms and their uses.
Carlsbad Springs (Ottawa, Canada)
Architects are flexible in defining their scope of services. Many, but
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.
You probably get what you pay for, in general. Have you consulted with
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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