why consult an architect?

The AIA (American Institute of Architects) gives a very good and well thought out description of why someone should consult an architect for their next building project and I’ve posted it under the “about” section on this website.  But I think there is an entire other sector of society that could greatly benefit from the services of an architect and/or designer that would never even think to solicit those services – the typical single family home owner.
What’s so special about the single family home owner that they could benefit so much from an architect’s services?  An architect is trained not just in how to design pretty buildings for the covers of magazines or to be showcased in blockbuster movies, but in the history of architecture and how a building functions; how users function in a building.  The typical single family home these days may have been originally conceived by an architect, but it was not designed for a specific user.  We’re all unique and we can all benefit from the input of a architect/designer who knows us personally and can offer ideas on how best to utilize our space.  This holds true for new homes as well as additions or renovations to an existing home.
I recently drafted plans for a single family addition in which the client already had a plan set in their mind of how they wanted things to go. They even went so far as to hand sketch the floor plan complete with windows, doors and some casework. After speaking with them and finding out, in words, what it is they were wanting to accomplish with this addition (combined with local codes and zoning restrictions) I came up with an alternate plan that better suited their purposes while using less space on the site and keeping the overall architectural style of the home intact.
Had these clients simply went to a contractor and said “please build this for me”, the end product would have been what they originally conceived, but it would not have ultimately served their larger purposes.  By consulting with an architect at the beginning the clients were able to save time, money and ultimately land use on their site.
The moral of our little tale here is, next time you are thinking of either renovating a home or perhaps even building a new one, take the time to at least consult with an architect/designer and get some feedback on options that more specifically suite YOU as the end user. Leaning on the expertise of an architectural professional will always help you be better equipped in making decisions on your next home or renovation project.

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