Many clients ask the question. After all we are not cheap. Couldn’t the money saved on architectural fees be better spent on a new Viking stove? Or hardwood flooring? The following are responses that I have provided to this question. While it may seem self serving for an architect to justify his or her professional worth, I suppose that many of these responses could also be independently verified by builders, suppliers, and real estate agents who work with architects.
- Homes that are designed by architects have greater resale value than other homes.
- Architect designed homes also offer homeowners a greater personal value in terms of efficiency, circulation, consistency, comfort, etc. in their day to day living environment.
- Architect designed homes are more energy efficient than others, saving homeowners many times over our initial professional fee in reduced energy consumption.
- Architects are educated and trained to incorporate passive energy saving solutions in every project.
- Architects hate waste. Waste in un-used floor area, waste in materials, waste in unnecessary energy consumption. We implement ideas such as building houses in 2-foot increments to help eliminate waste in studs and sheathing. We eliminate as much waste as possible saving our clients money and helping to preserve this planet.
- Architect designed homes are typically stronger than other homes. This extra strength translates into less cracks in finishes, fewer squeaks, and less noises in the night.
- Architects love reinforcing, whether in concrete, in floor systems, wall systems, etc. The benefit is to lessen the possibility of structural movement; which translates into dry basements, less wind infiltration, and less insurance claims.
- Architect designed homes typically require less maintenance than other homes. Architects are trained to design for long-term durability. We look at situations such as… How will the rainwater escape? Where will it flow? Because if rainwater collects, something bad usually happens, causing higher maintenance, or worse yet, long term damage.
- Architects practice with the most current materials, techniques, and details to help reduce constant maintenance.
- The climate in Michigan is rather severe in temperature extremes from season to season. Architects know which materials can take severe weathering and which ones cannot.
- Simple things such as roof overhangs, to push water off from walls and windows and help the sun from baking sidings, are investigated and calculated to best benefit the home design. All of the simple things, which are thought through in the planning stage, add up towards significant reduced long-term maintenance and reduced long-term costs associated with home ownership.
- The construction documents (drawings and specifications) created by the architect become a graphic contract with the builder. When the builder quotes from the drawings, he or she cannot build differently than what is shown in the drawings. The architect’s drawings bind the builder to a certain caliber of work. The builder cannot say, ”I didn’t allow for that”, because the drawings show exactly what the builder allowed for. The drawings illustrate exactly what he or she will build.
- Architects are trained to creatively resolve all design problems. Conflicts and oddities, which often occur in residential design, are creatively resolved and may actually spark another design opportunity.
- These last few responses are less pragmatic, more esoteric than the others. Architects are trained to design with consistency and use harmonious scale and proportions in all home designs. Not all people care about this opportunity, and this is fine. People who do not care about these issues usually do not hire architects. But for the people that do care about beauty in their lives this is an essential.
- Architect designed homes offer more design consistency than other homes; inside and out. A well designed home will look like it has always been there. The marriage between home and site is so mutual that the home completes the beauty of the site, as if the site was searching for the home all along.
- An architect designed home is also wedded to its inhabitants. The architect develops a personality of the home, which matches the particular homeowner’s lifestyle and characteristics.
- The result is a comfort level, which is felt by the owners every time they are in the house. It is a sensation difficult to describe, but perhaps similar to driving a sports car verses sitting in a mini van. The mini van commutes perfectly well and gets you where you want to go but is just a means of transportation devoid of driving pleasure. Homes should be pleasurable to live in, not just a means to keep the weather out. Architect designed homes have an innate personalized quality about them which invigorates and enlivens. Is this not what life is about?
“House life is just as permanent as the house that it graces. In the age when men built homes to last they cultivated a home life that would last as long and longer. Houses built of shoddy materials, thrown together for a short tens years existence- these are the marks of decay. The builder is not entirely to blame, nor is the architect nor is the state of the market. Lasting materials aplenty are available, good architects are readily found, nor is the honest builder a rara avis. The fault lies with the man who first dreams of the house. The fault lies with his plans for living; whether the house is to last or not.”
House and Garden, Book of Houses, 1919.