Me? Hire a professional designer or architect?

Hiring a professional designer or architect may seem like something only a rich person or large developer does. Designers don’t only work on crazy, minimal, modern houses. Don’t get me wrong, we love doing these. But most of the time, we are working on moderate budgets, helping people create a space that is truly theirs and works for them. Whether we are working on a million dollar house or an apartment over a garage, the value we bring is problem solving: including all of the client’s wishes, within their budget, meeting code, able to be built in the most efficient way, on schedule.

Client open house to introduce the Pole House, completed with D+A Studio, February 2012

You may be afraid that a professional designer or architect is going to take over and force you into decisions that you wouldn’t otherwise make. Sure, we have taste preferences, just like everyone does. Of course, we’ll make recommendations, bring different ideas to the table and give our “professional” opinion–that’s why you hired us, right? But we would never crush your vision or try to make your home fit our style over yours.

Another intimidating aspect could be how much we are going to do. Like most consultants, we can do as little as or much as you need or as your budget allows. On some projects we’ve designed everything from the site down to the door knobs. Some clients may just need code or zoning advice. Some might be working with a contractor and just need a few drawings for clarification. Some may want some sketches for inspiration. I can even just walk through your house or look at a piece of property with you. We love to do it all, but our passion for problem solving and design ensures we’ll give equal and full attention to any size task.

I’m not saying having a professional designer is for everyone–of course, not everyone is building a custom home or remodeling. But as long as you are making the investment, you might as well make sure you get everything you want, and we can put your vision on paper. There is also the whole “measure twice, cut once” thing–though in this context it would be “draw as many times as needed to get it right, build once.” Even with the most skillful, experienced contractor, you need basic drawings. And municipal jurisdictions are adding more and requirements for submissions all the time, especially in regard to meeting energy codes.

You don’t have to start from scratch, either. We won’t be offended (and in fact we encourage it) if you bring in photo examples, books, your own sketches, drafted plans, or plans from a catalog that you wish to tailor to your own needs.

Then there’s that touchy money subject. Contracts are as varying and flexible as the types of jobs architects and designers do, but many times are loosely based on a percentage of the construction cost, similar to how a Realtor takes a percentage of the purchase and sale prices in a transaction. Most people don’t think twice about the cost of Realtor because they are paying so many other costs and it all sort of gets jumbled together. Their service costs you a few thousand dollars, but I, like most people, realize the value a Realtor brings and would not ever attempt to sell my house or buy a new house without one.

Feel free to contact me with with any questions you have about the design process. I always provide a complimentary initial consultation.

Some parts originally published on the D+A Studio Blog, March 1, 2012