Using an Architect Can Save Time, Money

By Adam Miller
Adam Miller
Adam Miller
August 8, 2010 Updated: August 8, 2010
Scarlett's expansion of the Wellesley house transformed a simple, ranch home into a larger home of modern elegance. (Photo Courtesy of Shannon Scarlett )
Scarlett's expansion of the Wellesley house transformed a simple, ranch home into a larger home of modern elegance. (Photo Courtesy of Shannon Scarlett )

Canadian architect, Etienne Gaboury, once said, “Architecture is space structured to serve man and to move him.”

“To serve man” implies that architectural design creates a useful living space, while “to move him,” refers to the art of the design, which makes a particular building unique, colorful, and worthy of living inside.

While architects like Gaboury are often recognized for creating well-known, public structures—such as his Royal Canadian Mint building in Winnipeg—there are also benefits in using an architect for small-scale residential projects.

When considering building a home, it is worth interviewing an architect to see what benefits may be obtained.

Architect Shannon Scarlett lists 10 ways an architect can potentially save you time, money, and aggravation on your next house project. Shannon Taylor Scarlett, Architects, is a woman owned firm located in the Boston area focusing mainly on residential projects.

“Creating a home suited perfectly to the homeowners involves a somewhat complicated process of analysis and design,” Scarlett said on her website.

She describes how a trained architect will take a client’s “wish-list,” compare it with their needs and lifestyle, and provide “elegant solutions.” Not only is the client’s lifestyle worth analysis, but so are their long-range plans. Carefully considering a family’s future size as well as their goals will yield positive results when designing a home.

Throughout the process, an architect may offer the family constructive choices, and in the long-run, may save them money, ultimately helping to offset architectural fees.

“The cost of inefficient floor plan layouts can be serious,” Scarlett said, “yet it is very common for a homeowner or builder to believe it will be more cost effective to draw up their own plans.”

Most architects welcome smaller projects and are willing to work on kitchen renovations. (Photo Courtesy of Shannon Scarlett )
Most architects welcome smaller projects and are willing to work on kitchen renovations. (Photo Courtesy of Shannon Scarlett )
Scarlett gives an example of a couple who visited her at a home show, and shared with her the home plans their builder had drafted.

“There were a number of inefficiencies—a couple of long hallways, symmetrically sized rooms for very different uses, an undersized kitchen with an oversized mudroom… There was over a hundred square feet of wasted or underutilized space. At an average $200 to $300 per square foot (typical Boston area costs), the builder was unintentionally causing these homeowners to spend over $20,000 for unnecessary space!”

Architects may alleviate the stress involved in the construction process by acting as a mediator between the homeowners and the builder; they can help disagreeing family members come to an agreement of terms. Architects create a timetable and track the progress of construction, while helping to solve problems that arise along the way.

Most architects welcome smaller projects, such as residential homes, and are willing to work on additions or renovations. Scarlett mentions how some of the most exciting projects are those with challenges in site condition, and ones which involve a limited budget.

Scarlett says, “Most small architectural firms are willing to undertake any size project, with one typical contingency: the owner must be concerned with the design quality of the project.”

This brings up another great benefit in working with an architect: their enthusiasm and respect for quality design.

Again, referring to Gaboury’s, “Architecture is space structured to serve man and to move him,” there is no replacement for the aesthetic of architectural design which must meet the requirement of moving man’s heart.

As an architect seeks to both serve and to move each client, the act of hiring an architect becomes an appreciation of the arts. True beauty is worth a price. And good architecture should be esteemed for its value and contribution to the lives that live amongst it.

 

Adam Miller