Hiring an architect to design your home
A freelance architect can save you money without sacrificing quality
Constructing a home is an important and significant milestone in your life. A house is probably the most expensive purchase you'll ever make, so you want to get it right. If you're building your home, then the first logical step is to hire an architect. Read on to find out the essential role that an architect plays in designing your dream home and find out how you can hire one that fits in your budget.
What does an architect do?
How your house is designed determines whether it will be functional or not. A great design will always focus on making the building more convenient, simpler, beautiful, and ultimately more functional to live in.
We all have some level of designing ability along with a sense of taste and aesthetics. But an architect can help transfer that vision of a house on paper from where it can go on to become a reality.
As licensed professionals, architects are trained in the science and art of designing buildings that are structurally sound and practical. The concepts of these structures can be complex or simple. An architect transforms these concepts into plans and images and helps in a house building project in the following manner.
A building design goes much deeper than a simple drawing. While the appearance is important, an architect’s expertise ensures that the structure is pragmatic and works for those who will occupy it. Logically, the building design must be safe, functional, as well as economical. Simply speaking, the design must suit the requirements of those who are paying to build and occupy it. An architect takes all these points into consideration while designing the building structure.
Architects essentially produce building plans, also known as blueprints or construction drawings. These plans and drawings are the basis on which the building contractor builds the structure. These plans and designs undergo numerous corrections before they are finalized and handed over to the builder.
Working with the builder helps architects understand how the building is built and they can modify the design and projected structure accordingly. Like most other professionals, the skills of an architect are honed over time and are enhanced with experience.
Managing and supervising
It is not possible to complete a building project satisfactorily without the field supervision of an architect. An architect is the one person who can determine if what is drawn on paper is realized in the building stage or not.
Typically, in field supervision, the architect will visit the site and make notes on the observations. Once the contractor or the builder has signed on this, the handover is complete and both parties part ways.
While this is how normally the construction projects are done, there is actual benefit in involving the architect during the building phase as well. This is especially helpful if any changes are made to the predefined blueprint after the construction work has started. Along with the management and supervision of the project at a high level, the architect can also solve problems related to changes there and then itself. In short, architectural supervision involves meticulously following each and everything that has been included in the final drawings and design of the building project.
Good communication is a fundamental requirement for getting the design built correctly. The discussions between the client and the architect include objectives, requirements, as well as the budget of the building project. An architect can also conduct predesign surveys and provide specific requirements that the building plan should meet.
The way an architect perceives a project often differs from the way in which a builder sees it. However, this gap can also be bridged by effective communication from the architect.
Much of the design and blueprint is prepared for the sake of clear communication. From virtual rendering to handover discussions, every aspect needs to be documented and shared to avoid any miscommunication.
Above everything else, an architect is primarily responsible for developing final construction plans. Along with these the architect also needs to share documentation and drawings regarding the structural system. These include,
- Ventilating systems
- Air Conditioning
- Communication systems
- Electrical systems
These documents can also include landscape and site plans as well. Apart from the sketches and drawings, the documents also list down the building materials and may include details regarding internal furnishings, if applicable.
It is clear that an architect plays the critical role of bridging the gap between your vision and what plans the builder is handed over for construction purposes. However, finding and hiring an architect boils down to the type of house design you have in mind, the era of design you are considering, building type (for example, eco-friendly), etc. Since architecture is largely dependent on an individual’s ability to imagine, design, and project, it is the perfect area to hire freelance talent.
Like most other professionals, architects and design consultants have entered the freelancing industry making their services more widely available to construction sector projects. The availability of online freelancing spaces and digitization in the workplace have been two major contributing factors towards this phenomenon. Although architecture firms are normally hired even for designing a personal home, this trend is fast changing with the emergence of freelance architects.
Benefits of hiring a freelance architect
While architectural design firms surely have an entire army of architects at their disposal, it may not be what you require. Hiring freelance architects for designing homes or small business offices can be a brilliant alternative. The following are some of the key benefits that they bring along.
Working with freelancers in any field allows you to select an architect from multiple options. Freelancing architects are no different. Each architect profile carries a unique take on the subject. You can log onto a reliable freelancing platform and browse through architects spread across the globe. You can also view their portfolio and assess their work before shortlisting the profile. The reviews left by previous clients against each profile can give you a better idea of the respective candidate’s work and professionalism.
Since you are dealing with one person for all architecture-related requirements, there is a much lower chance of miscommunication. Also, most freelancer architects work on their own, therefore, they are more flexible with time arrangements. This means that your architect need not be in the same city as you for effective communication of requirements. A direct means of communication can be easily established over several digital channels available. In other words, you are free to pick and choose from architects that are spread over a larger geographical area.
Freelancers are known for their ability to deliver projects in much lesser time. This is especially beneficial if you are on a tight schedule. A freelance architect can help you reduce the gap between the initial discussion and the final proposal. This, again, is difficult to expect from large firms where every project goes through multiple levels of discussions and iterations.
Closer to expectations
While constructing your home, you don’t want to be stuck with a design that you are not 100% sure of. With a freelance architect, you have more flexibility to modify or change the design even after you have signed on the final drawings. This is nearly impossible with larger architectural business houses. Bigger firms usually juggle multiple clients and can’t afford iterations on every single project. This adds an element of rigidity to their environment and can also affect their ability to be creative.
Value for money
Since large firms are not the only options available today, most architects are entering the freelancing domain. Freelancers typically work with lower overheads and they transfer this price benefit to their clients as well. You can easily see this by comparing the project costs set by an architecture firm and those charged by a freelancer. Additionally, there are several costs included in the charges levied by an architecture firm that is missing when you work with a freelancer. You are not just staying within your pre-defined budget but, you are also getting more value for your money.
Try something new
A house is something that most of us will build only once in our lifetime. Therefore, it is understandable if you want to move away from the typical local designs and try something new. While this might not have been possible a decade ago, today this is very much the case if you hire freelancer architects.
Since you are not limited to architects who you can meet physically, you can look for talent in different parts of the world and try something new. In fact, there is a wide international talent pool that is available on any reputed freelancing platform. You will not just get a fresh perspective, but you can also find new sources of inspiration. It is easy to shortlist and select a profile, discuss your requirements and budget, and begin the project.
But what about field supervision?
We know. We said field supervision was a crucial part of the architect's job. And we stand by that. But doesn't that negate using a freelance architect who could be on the other side of the world from your building project?
Not at all. That's the wonderful thing about technology. A freelance architect can supervise the entire building process without physically being onsite. Just make sure to coordinate specific times for your architect to inspect the process via video chat. Or, you can take video of the site yourself and send it to the architect at the end of each day of work.
It is very natural to think of consulting a builder when you first decide to build a home. However, builders are not designers. While they may offer opinions and sample designs, it is not their niche skill area. A builder is a professional who knows how to build well, although they may not be the right person for getting a house designed.
Great design is defined by efficient use of space along with lower running and maintenance costs. Therefore, good design drawn upfront has the potential to save you money for years to come. In fact, a house that is well-designed can also help you make more money when you sell it. So, don’t undermine the need for hiring an architect when you are building your home. The world of freelancing has made it possible for experienced professionals to cut out the middlemen and offer their services directly to the clients.