If you are in the market for an architect and are starting to shop around a bit, a piece of advice is to avoid the phrase:
We know what we want, we just need someone to draw it up.
I can just imagine that there are some people shaking their heads thinking that architects are elitists and don’t care about them doing the work unless there is an opportunity for personal glory. While I imagine this could be true for an extremely small number of architects, it’s not true for most and it’s certainly not true for me. The part that is disagreeable is not the diminished scope of work or even the elimination of architectural fees, it’s the reduction of value that I believe most conscientious architects bring to the process.
While I’m sure it happens, I always think this is similar to how doctors might feel when a patient comes in and says “I already know what’s wrong, I just need you to write a prescription.” I can already hear the counter-argument that it isn’t unreasonable for people to know what might be ailing them, but I feel safe in saying that this knowledge would not stop your doctor from actually going through their process and performing a checkup and then coming to their own conclusion.
Most architects spend far less time designing your house than you might imagine. On a typical project, I might get to spend 25% of my billable time “designing” a project while the other 75% is spent collecting, coordinating, and distributing information, developing the technical content, and then trying to make sure that the intent of that information is realized in the documentation that will be used in the field. I don’t have any data to back this up, and I know that the staff I work with will attest to this, but it certainly feels like I spend a lot of time just trying to make sure that things align with other things. On the surface, this sounds like an easy enough thing to accomplish, but the reality is that a lot of my mental horsepower is expended thinking about the construction process as part of my design process. How something is built is tied to what it looks like, which requires that I think about the specifics of construction assemblies and just how thick, wide, and long materials are.
Just Draw it Up
Over the years, I have gone through the process of explaining why I am not a good fit for people who already know what they want. If a drafting service is what you need, I would much rather point you towards someone who can do exactly what you want and leave you happy (and with a smaller bill) rather than take on a project where there is a constant push back and forth between what you want and the services I can provide. It’s not a matter of the size either as I have had the following line on my About Me page, unchanged for the last 11 years when I started Life of an Architect.
The reality is that I like to work with people on all sorts of different projects and if the timing is right, I’d help you pick out a front door if that’s where you needed my help.
Need proof? The Front Door of Your House is important …