There is a request that I receive a few times a week that I thought I would finally talk about in an effort to shed some light on a fairly taboo subject. Those requests typically start off something like this:
“I have already designed my house but since I am not an architect, I don’t know how to create the technical drawings I would need to give to a contractor. Is this something that you would do, and if so, how much do you charge?”
With 100% certainty, I know that I am not alone in receiving these sorts of inquiries. Years ago, in the days before I spent an hour or two each day responding to emails, this is the sort of question that would work me up and, depending on my overall mood, I might even have become irritated at this reduction in my abilities. I’d think to myself, C’mon, I am not a drafting service! I am a highly educated, extremely experienced, and thoroughly licensed professional architect. But I rarely react like that anymore, mostly because most people (who aren’t architects) don’t really understand the myriad of moving parts to their request and they don’t know how long it takes to simply “draw up some plans.” So I am here to set the record straight … it takes a long time.
This email exchange also typically includes some insight that they have already tried reaching out to other architects, and IF they received a callback, they would typically be told that the architecture firm wasn’t taking on any new projects at the moment. It is at this moment when I try to explain that calling up an architecture firm and telling them that you’ve already done the design for your house, you just need someone to prepare the drawings, is akin to going to your doctor and telling them that you’ve “already figure out what was wrong, I just need you to write a prescription.” While there are doctors out there that might be willing to do this, they are probably as rare as finding an architect who will simply draw up your plans … and you can probably only find either through back channels and secret alleyway exchanges.
The takeaway from these emails is fairly simple … it still comes down to finding the right sort of person for the job at hand. If all you need is someone to take your plans and turn them into serviceable documents, you should reach out to a drafting service. You won’t have to deal with the prickly demeanor that you might receive from some architects, and the cost to provide those drawings will presumably be more in line with your expectations. If you want to take advantage of the skill set an architect can provide, along with the insight that comes from working on these sorts of projects from the initial concept, through the preparation of documents that are suitable for permitting and pricing, and concluding with construction administration, then an architect might be exactly what you are looking for.
The truth is that I genuinely want to help every person who reaches out and asks this question, but the reality is that most of the time, it isn’t a good fit for either of us. I would much rather inform someone of that reality and be helpful, than to move forward and put them in a difficult position. The one thing I will always try to do is I will answer their questions.