Consulting an Architect? Here’s What to Expect

Contrary to popular opinion, architects do more than just design. They coordinate construction projects of varying scales from concept to creation. They pay careful attention to every detail in order to transform artistic visions into functional work and living spaces.

While every firm and project are different, here’s what you can expect from working with a  real-life licensed architect:

Initial Consultation

It’s crucial to find an architect who understands your style and needs. The first meeting is conducted to evaluate if they’re a good fit for your project. This is also the time to ask about project scope, pricing, timelines, and deliverables.

Assess whether you and your architect have a good rapport. Having an open and positive relationship with each other will minimize friction and help you work more efficiently. This is, after all, typically a two-year relationship and you’ll want to make sure that you’ve found the right match. Think of this initial consultation as your first date.

Design Phase

During the design phase, your architect will review the site’s existing conditions alongside code constraints. Then they will produce conceptual drawings or ideas that reflect your goals and the aesthetic direction they envision for your project.

In coming up with the right design, your architect will consider the following factors:

    • History of the site
    • The functionality of the plan
    • Choice of materials and furnishings
    • Issues with heating, cooling, and water supply
    • Energy efficiency and sustainability
    • Comfort and safety of occupants
    • Construction and maintenance costs
    • Local codes and fire safety
    • Resale value
    • Design elements such as light, air, balance, and proportion

Documentation

Once a scheme is finalized and all parties are satisfied with the general design, your architect will start creating Construction Documents.

At this point, expect to see more detailed drawings and discussions about assemblies and materials. Your architect will ensure that their drawings are coordinated with those of their consultants, which typically include a structural engineer, civil engineer, and mechanical engineer. These working drawings are crucial in acquiring building permits. They will also serve as a detailed instruction manual for your contractor.

A bit of design work such as the selection of interior finishes, lighting fixtures, and plumbing fixtures will continue during this period so that all of the selections are made and documented for your contractor.

Permitting

Much of the work at this stage involves securing permits and approval. Your local jurisdiction will check whether the proposed work complies with local safety codes and zoning regulations. Approvals may have to go through various revision cycles during which your architect will modify the design accordingly. Once approved, construction may begin.

Construction administration

The architect’s job goes beyond planning and design. They also monitor construction and often have the authority of the Owner s Representative.  As the owner’s rep, it’s their job to maintain quality, anticipate potential issues, and prevent cost overruns or last-minute changes.

Contractors work closely with the architect to ensure the design is executed correctly. Most architects conduct weekly site visits and review plans with subcontractors to ensure everything is built to the standards of the design.

Work with experienced architects

Hiring an architect is vital to achieving the space you want within a budget that is comfortable. At Letter Four, Inc., we use our specialized construction knowledge and highly developed project documentation skills to the benefit of our projects. Our principals each have over 20 years of experience working on tenant improvements, residential remodels, new construction, restaurants, fitness centers, and hospitality facilities, among others.

Call us at (323) 275-1140 or email us at info@letterfour.com to discuss your project.

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