Do I Need an Architect?

Do I need an architect for my home renovation or addition? What a great question! In accordance with the State of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Division of Codes and Standards Bulletin 96-2 item a) On applications for construction, alteration, repair of or addition to single family dwellings, including accessory structures, for the exclusive occupancy of the owner, who also prepared the construction documents and will construct the dwelling by himself or herself [N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.15(f)1.ix].

In other words if you feel comfortable in designing your home creating construction documents that will be submitted to the town for approval and are ready to take on the job of general contractor then you can!

I have not met too many people willing to take on this gargantuan task. The other route is to hire an architect. Not only is the architect going to provide you with his years of expertise and experience he is going to listen to all the things you want to accomplish and make them a reality. He will study your home and determine the best way to go about creating the spaces you desire. He will insure the structure shall be designed to be in accordance with the increasingly stringent building code, (The International Residential Code New Jersey Edition 2015), to insure your safety. He will specify in detail the type of insulation required to keep your home in accordance with the International Energy Conversation Code. Your architect is constantly referring to the building code to make decisions such as minimum stair widths to locations of tempered safety glazing etc.

The architect will take pride in making sure your home is not only a safe place but pleasing to the eye as well. He will create sketches as he develops his ideas and constantly refines his thoughts as he travels through the design process. Does a window line up on the first floor with the second floor; should I create a pattern of windows, should the dormer be a doghouse or shed dormer? Should the roof pitch be 6 in 12 or 10 in12? It’s possible that some decisions will be impacted by local zoning ordinances which your architect is going to be familiar with, or at least know how to go about getting the information he needs to conform to the local zoning requirements.

The bottom line is if you are looking to save money by doing it yourself, it may not end up necessarily being the case and you may run into many unanticipated headaches along the way. You can certainly give it a try by searching for that inner architect in yourself but I think in the end if you want a well thought out quality design your best bet is to seek out an architect. If you are thinking of creating an addition please give AGA a call to see how we can help.