Many people mistakenly think that design is simply the decoration that is added on top of a project to help make it beautiful. Design is, in reality, the planning that makes a building or space function well, last longer and cost less to operate. While the average cost to hire an architect is often between 8-12% of the construction price, design is really an investment that can yield a payoff anywhere from five to more than twenty times its cost over the life of the building.
Many projects begin with a preconceived notion of how large a building needs to be. A good architect can figure out ways to make space work more efficiently and can fit a given program into a smaller space, saving you money by not adding unnecessary space. Architects can also show clients how all these new spaces and design elements are arranged. In the past, to understand architectural drawings, one had to be trained to read plans. Now, using advanced computer tools, the best architects can now design, test and take their clients on virtual tours of projects as if they were already built, right down to the furniture, materials and quality of light within the space. This allows the clients to be more active participants in the design process, which leads to a much better designed result for them.
Construction is a complicated business that has numerous legal issues and enormous financial impacts on the lives of all those involved. There is no more expensive way to conduct construction than when there are insufficient plans. Good plans and construction contracts can save clients enormous costs and problems by allowing for competitive bidding and fewer change orders once construction starts. The benefit of having a well-planned, coordinated and complete set of drawings does not end at the conclusion of bidding. Good planning allows hundreds of different products to be carefully selected, purchased at the best cost and be coordinated to work well together.
The longevity of a building is associated with its long term operation. Heating, cooling, maintenance and repair costs all add up, which makes designing a building that lasts longer and costs less to operate central to saving money over time. The architect can be a tremendous benefit to the client, creating strategic solutions for energy efficiency, which then cuts down on massive cost and environmental implications. By strategically insulating a house and employing innovative techniques like geothermal heat pumps, a building can save as much as 75% of the energy a typical builder supplied house would use.
The best architects can help create “beauty” but this quality is not always easy to define. Beauty is more than just transient attractiveness. It is the proportion, the suitability to the program and the seamless integration to its climate and site. In the realm of painting, beauty is what makes the work of one artist worth a hundred times more than the work of a lesser artist who used the same amount of raw materials. Architecture is like that too. In financial terms a beautiful building will sell for substantially more than a less attractive one of similar size and location. While the financial payoff for beauty typical comes at the time a building is sold, the owner will have the pleasure of enjoying an attractive and well-designed environment each and every day that they own it.
Hiring and working with a good architect will have benefits from the first day you start to work with them to long after you have sold the property as good architecture becomes part of the fabric of a community that can last scores or even hundreds of years. It is why our motto is “Great Design is a Smart Investment.”
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