Many tradesmen and trades women have years of experience behind them in the construction trades and feel that this qualifies them to design and build an addition to their home. A few may be qualified but the others will miss out on all the things and architect can bring to the table.
Architects like other trades people, many times specialize in one type of work or another. Some do only commercial storefronts, some do high rise building work, some do schools, hospitals and so on. Some may do single family homes and some do renovation design. If you are doing an addition or renovation to your home, a sit down with an architect will bring you new ideas you never thought of as well as access to a wide array of products you never heard of before.
Architects work for you, not the contractor. They are there to assure you get the most “bang for your buck” as the saying goes. The architect will look for the most cost effective way to achieve your design goals and save you money where ever they can.
There are countless thousands of paint colors, materials, counter top types, carpet styles and colors, window designs, new roofing options and so on. Their minds are geared towards making a beautiful finished product that you and they can be proud of in the end.
An architect also has the latest costs estimate of labor and materials to prepare budgets and loan applications if necessary. The Architect can track the work progress and review applications for payment from your subs to assure you are paying only for work that is completed and acceptable. Believe me when I say many people wish they had this option after they paid for incomplete or shoddy work simply because they did not know any better.
Note here that a building inspector can only inspect the work required by the state and local municipality. If the board is installed straight and nailed well, it gets approved. The fact the board was #2 pine instead of the mahogany specified cannot be enforced by code enforcement but your architect sure can. They can make the contractor remove and replace the board or if acceptable re-price it to the proper dollar number for the owner.
You will find quickly that an architect is your friend on the job and well worth their fee. This does not let you off the hook to keep an eye on the daily work being done. You don’t have to annoy or interfere with the work but checking over the work at the end of day keeps a bad situation from becoming worse if it’s noted straight away. Advise the architect that you think something is not right and they can quickly check it out and advise the contractor of the problem.
Lastly, discuss with the architect if a warranty on the work is possible. Friends of mine with a new home had to have their shower stall terrazzo base replaced three times due to cracking in the first two years. Without an airtight written warranty they would have been out thousands of dollars. Their architect insisted upon the warranty when they first hired their contractor and of course they are glad they hired him. The contractor assured them an architect wasn’t necessary. Go figure why.
In the end if your addition or renovation is of any good size, invest a few dollars in an architect. Shop around for both a good reputation and price as you would for any other product or service. It will be well worth the effort.