So you have decided your current living space is not allowing you to entertain as you would like or your family has grown and your home is becoming too small. What are your choices? You could start looking for a larger house, but you say to yourselves we like where we live. We like our neighbors, we like the school our children attend and the park down the street is where we have met all of our close friends. Therefore your only real option is to alter your home or put on an addition. So many clients know exactly what they need but to accomplish it is another story.
I visit many potential clients who initially went to a general contractor thinking I’ll go right to the builder and get this job done. What happens? The builder tells the homeowner drawings prepared by an architect will be required before he/she can even think about what you want and what it will cost! So what’s a homeowner to do… call an architect! You typically want to go to a residential architect who specializes in alterations and additions. These projects have their own unique problems and in order to solve these problems the architect will walk you through the process and get you that end result you are looking for. Many clients think they have it all figured out and then the architect comes along and offers a completely different solution that you may have not even considered. A typical scenario is a homeowner requesting an addition off to the side not anticipating all the disruption it may cause and the reconfiguration of rooms. An architect has a keen sense of spatial relationships and how to create appropriate adjacencies of rooms. The architect will ask key questions making you think harder about what you want to accomplish and how to reach that goal. He/she may point out things that you had not considered initially that would create minimal impact and make your home so much more livable!
Are you on a budget? Have you considered just creating more living space in your basement? Or how about grabbing some space out of your attic or over the garage? Should you go up or go out? Your architect will help you decide what makes the most sense.
Before you call the architect make a list of what works in your home and what does not. Create a wish list of major haves, and minor haves and make sure your significant other is on the same page in regard to what you want to achieve.
Every home and homeowner is unique; there is no typical way to do anything. If you can dream it then most likely it can be done! Communication is the most important ingredient in the process of home renovations. A good architect is going to listen to you and give input based on what you presented as your concerns and hopes. All architects are not like you see in the movies who are only concerned about their own ego and what they think is right. After all who is going to live in this house? The architect is a professional that is there for you to accomplish a home that will suit your individual needs.
When seeking out an architect to help with your next project look online at their work and what past clients have said about them. Reviews can give you insight as to how the architect works or if they are good listeners. If an architect’s website is just showing you mansions, upscale homes or commercial work and you are thinking of just opening up a couple of rooms and building a small addition that architect may not be an appropriate fit for your project.
Interested in creating an idea book to get your project started? Many clients create a file folder with images they print out from the internet or drive by homes and see elements they like and take a quick photo with their phone. Another great resource is Houzz.com where there are countless images that you can download to your own personal library at no cost. You can search anything and thousands of images will come up. And if your architect is on Houzz you can share that image library directly with them.
As you go through the process with your architect you may want to get a contractor on board after the scope of the project has been vetted to make sure you are not biting off more than you can chew. If you find you are way over budget this would be an ideal time to scale back the project. Once an architect starts creating construction documents any little change can snowball into hours of revisions to the drawings, especially if a new structural analysis is required.
When you are provided with drawings make sure you understand them. If you have questions do not hesitate to ask. The architect is there for you and he/she want a happy client in the end! Are you unsure of how big a space is? Compare it to an existing space in your home. You will have a set of existing drawings most likely drawn to the same scale as the schematics so you will be able to trace rooms or hold up two drawing and compare sizes to give you an idea of what works and what does not.
Some items to think about if you are creating an addition… will the siding match? Most likely not, so are you going to take on the expense of residing your home? Same issue applies to the roofing and while you are at it are the windows in your addition going to look funny next to your existing windows? Unexpected costs are the nature of renovation. The main reason is because you are never 100% sure of what is behind your existing walls. An architect can make a very good assumption but until thing are opened up or footings in your basement are explored… it’s like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get!
Ultimately it is a stressful task but in the end you will be in a house that will fulfill your needs and give you enjoyment for years to come.