Cheap Architect… The Google Search?
When you start thinking about expanding or altering your home what is one of the first things you are going to Google search? I hope you will be searching for an architect, but what will you put in the search bar? Will it be architect nearby, residential architect, great architect, I need an architect, best architect or will you type in cheap architect? Cheap architect, what does that even mean? Perhaps the correct term would be economical architect. If you do not want to sacrifice quality, but you are looking to save some money, there are options out there.
The Easy Way Out
Some people will go right to HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, Porch, Architects-Today, Improvenet and the list goes on and on. These potential clients seem to be looking for the path of least resistance to get a bunch of quotes (many sites sending you 4 professionals) without any work on their end. When the reality is that you are just getting random architects calling you desperate for work and perhaps their quality is not that great. When the lead comes through to the architect he/she is required to pay for it so they are most likely going to contact you. I’m not sure I understand the incentive because it would be my impression if you are reaching out solely for quotes you must be looking for a good deal or possibly a cheap architect.
The Ideal Way
I think a better approach might be to actually go on Google and search residential architects nearby and start looking at architects’ profiles, reviews, what kind of work they do. In other words do they sound like someone you are looking for. Google is not the only way to search you can go on the popular site Houzz and also do a search. Houzz also is a great resource for photos and reviews. Once you have read some profiles give the architects a call and discuss your project and if they are able to help you in an economical manner.
Some architects have extremely high fees because they will cater to a client’s every need, which includes going to a tile store with them and helping with a kitchen design. Their construction documents, for instance, consist of an incredible amount of details down to the trim around a doorway to the hinges on the door to your closet. When they are done designing your home they will help you pick out a general contractor and then come to your project every week during construction and be your advocate. So justifiably those fees get pretty high some as much as 18% the construction cost. Do you need all of that attention to get yourself an addition to your home? Of course not.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with that approach. However, I know many people do not want that much. They do not want to spend that much money. So are they looking for a cheap architect? I hope not, because when I hear that term “cheap” I think of inferior quality or worth. It also sounds like a service lacking any redeeming qualities. I think they are looking for an economical architect. An architect who cares about his work and also is sensitive to his client’s needs and budget.
Is It Luxury?
People consider an architect a luxury item but it does not have to be that way. I worked in several design firms and took the lead role in those firms as a designer. These firms benefited from wealthy clients. This allows me to take that past knowledge and incorporate it into my current work but on a scaled down version. I always provide my clients with a high quality product, but you can be sure it will not contain a coat hook detail. My clients understand this and are happy to create these little details on their own.
If a client is creating an addition with a new kitchen I send them to a kitchen design store. After all a kitchen is such a specialized space why not go to someone who has their pulse on the most current trends. Above all an architect charging you the larger fees is taking care of this for you as well as all of the finishes. I prefer to have my clients create their own palette of finishes, either on their own or with an interior designer. Being a sole practitioner I only have so many hours in my day. Keeping each client happy is a juggling act. This is why I have this business model.
Put In The Work
In addition, a homeowner is also going to save money by supervising their own project. They will work closely with their general contractor. Of course this is not for everyone but this happen to be my business model. My clients are always able to call and ask a question. If something arises that needs my attention during construction, I am available. This service is handled on an hourly basis. So instead of an architect coming out weekly, writing up a report, noting things the contractor needs to do and charging for this service a homeowner can forego this service.
I have had my practice for over 25 years. My record has proven that you can get a quality product at an economical fee. However, you are going to need to be involved. In other words less work for the architect and more work for the homeowner. Therefore, I do believe you get what you pay for, which you can read about in an old blog.