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Kevin Ahern

By: Kevin Ahern on March 18th, 2022

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When You Will and Won't Need an Architect for a Home Remodeling Project

Residential | Residential Remodeling

Most homeowners and commercial property owners are aware that architects and construction companies work together on certain building projects - but not all projects. In fact, many property owners have a hard time telling when it's the right time to work with an architect and when it's enough to hire a design-build contractor

The answer is not simple. Ultimately, whether a project requires help from an architect depends on the project's level of complexity and your preferences.

This article will discuss the services that an architect can provide, who benefits from the services of an architect, and how to decide when you need an architect for a home remodeling project. 

What does an architect do?

Architects are professionals who design buildings. This may sound simple, but it's really not. There are many levels of service that architects provide throughout the design project. 

Architects communicate with clients to create buildings that satisfy their project goals and stylistic preferences. After communicating with their client about their project, the architect translates their client's ideas into a schematic design. They do this while working within their client's stated budget.

Architect drawings are complete, down to the incorporation of various systems into the design like mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and so on. 

Once the design is created, they prepare construction documents with important structural information included. Architects design buildings that are code-compliant, safe, and attractive as per the needs of the client. 

Start to Finish Services

Even after the design is created, architects typically work with the contractor or builder that's constructing the project, to ensure that the construction of the project is smooth and successful. If there are design elements that need to be changed during the construction of the project, the contractor and architect form a team to make that happen.  

When do you need an architect for a home remodeling project in Connecticut? 

Typically, architects are needed when the project's size and scope warrant the architect's services. Not all projects rise to this level. If that sounds vague, there's a good reason for that. One person might hire an architect for their kitchen to remodel - another may not. It all depends on the needs of the client and the scope of the project.  

Sometimes it's not the project itself that determines whether an architect is needed, but the client. Some clients want a lot of customization, a deep dive into the design of the project, and a high level of accessibility to the person performing the design. Architects deliver the level of customization and accessibility that those clients are looking for.

Which projects are appropriate for a design-build contractor?

A design-build contractor is a contractor that provides some design services in-house. Design-build contractors handle projects when some basic design is required to complete a project, but the level of design is minimal compared to what an architect can provide.  

How can I tell if my project requires an architect?

If your project is best handled by an architect, the team at Litchfield Builders will refer you to an architect at the first consultation (if you haven't contacted one already). In general, we will refer any project that is over $500,000 to an architect. Beyond that, we'll be able to tell whether you need an architect based on the information you provide to us about your needs and goals. 

How does working with a contractor change your project? 

Generally speaking, working with an architect will change your project in a couple of ways. 

  1. Timeline. Working with an architect adds a few steps, which adds some time to your project. You'll have to find the right architect for your needs, communicate with them about the design, and then they'll have to produce the design for you. If you're working with Litchfield Builders, we can refer you to an architect, which can make finding the right professional for you a little easier. 
  2. Cost. Architects have their own fees that are separate from the contractor fees. This adds to the cost of your project. However, if your project needs an architect, the cost is worth it. Architects are highly trained professionals who deliver a high level of customer service and bring a lot of expertise to their design process. 

Which comes first: the architect or the contractor?

Some clients aren't sure which order to hire their team for their upcoming building project. In truth, you can hire professionals in whatever order makes the most sense to you. Some clients start by hiring an architect and then finding the contractor after the design has already begun. Other clients hire the contractor first and find the architect second. 

Either of these scenarios works. However, if your project does require an architect, it's best to work with a contractor that has experience working with architects as a part of their team. It's vitally important for the success of your project that your contractor and architect work together, in partnership. Maintaining open lines of communication is important for your project, but not all contractors are experienced with this type of teamwork. Miscommunications can lead to delays and other problems. 

Beginning a Home Improvement Project in Connecticut? Choose the Right Contractor for Your Needs

There's a lot that goes into making a home remodeling project a success. It starts with hiring the right professionals for your team. For more information about choosing the right contractor, download our free guide, How to Choose a Professional Home Remodeling Contractor.

How to Choose a Professional Home Remodeling Contractor

About Kevin Ahern

Kevin is the Co-Founder of Litchfield Builders, an award-winning, industry leader with a reputation for managing projects others shy away from. They are known for their high-quality work, customer service, and reliability and though still relatively small in size, Litchfield Builders now competes with some of the areas largest firms in both the residential and commercial arenas.