The Value of an Expert Opinion
Architect David Blackmon, past president of AIA, offers plenty of good reasons to go with the pros.
David Blackmon renovated his own home (above) and turned to his favorite Birmingham professionals for assistance: Architect: Blackmon Rogers Architects, LLC blackmonrogers.com, 205.837.4886. Builder: Benchmark Specialties, LLC, 205.965.9645. Landscape Architect: Environmental Design Studio, Inc. edsincweb.com, 205.223.6367
Why do I need an architect?
Building or renovating a home is a process that takes time and can be extremely stressful. Having a talented and experienced professional to guide you is always beneficial. It should be a rewarding experience that creates a place that inspires and delights.
Can’t I just get a drawing and floorplan and work with a builder on my own? Wouldn’t that be less expensive?
It might seem cheaper, but it rarely is in the end. Our documents are the legal contract between you (the owner) and your builder. They hold the builder and all of his subcontractors accountable to provide the materials and quality you expect. In the beginning, when everyone is excited and ready to start work, those details may seem trivial, but in the end they are incredibly important communication tools.
What can an architect do for me besides draw my houseplan?
So much more! We can help determine if your existing home can be transformed into your dream home. We can help shop for a new home that meets your needs or can be adapted to your needs. We can even suggest changes that will make your existing home more energy efficient and comfortable. And, we can help evaluate different sites (or lots) for a new home. As architects, we are designers and problem solvers. Our first step is always asking questions and listening to you. Understanding your needs and desires enables us to offer inventive and appropriate design solutions.
How do architects charge for their different services?
All architects provide professional services which equate to selling time. Three ways we typically charge are: (1) an hourly rate, (2) a percentage of construction cost, or (3) a lump sum fee based on a defined scope of work.
I have always heard that you should count on spending 30% more than the original estimate for any project (new or renovation). Is this true?
I haven’t met anyone yet who didn’t want more than their budget would allow. A big part of what we do on the front end is help you prioritize your dream list and adjust your expectations or budget—oftentimes both. Proper planning goes a long way to avoid surprises. It’s always less expensive for us to draw it until it’s right than for you to build it wrong.
Do I need an interior designer too?
I’m only buying a few new things for my house. It’s money well spent. Interior designers are an integral part of the design team, and we value the collaborative process this creates. Even if you aren’t planning on purchasing many new items for the interior, a designer can assist in the selection of interior finishes, as well as in editing and placing your existing furniture and art.
What about a landscape professional? Can’t I worry about that when I’m finished building?
My favorite homes are the ones that are thoughtfully integrated into the land. A well-designed landscape is inseparable from exceptional design, and you benefit greatly by having this work done in collaboration with the design of your home.
The guys at the local home improvement store said they could help me. What can you do that they can’t?
One key difference is that architects want to find the very best design solution for our clients, and we don’t limit ourselves to any specific inventory or brand. We also stay focused on the big picture of how each individual decision relates to the overall home.