Many of the homeowners that we meet with are nearly set on hiring an architect for their home remodeling project, until they meet with us. While we are not architects, we prefer to work with homeowners before they go out and get a set of plans for their project. We work with the homeowner to establish a budget and design their projects in 3D and color to suit their vision, their lifestyle, and project objectives. This way, when they are ready to engage with a contractor, they have a defined design, scope, and budget from which the contractor can work.
How Do Architects Typically Work?
When you hire an architect for your custom new home or remodeling project, they will develop a set of plans for your home remodel, but before the project is actually priced. Most residential architects in MN or in any other state operate this way. An architect will ask you some questions to gain an understanding of the type of project you want and what your budget is, but it’s difficult for an architectural firm to know precisely what the project will cost as designed.
A common issue arises when you get your set of plans from an architect, for which you pay in full, and you go out to bid for your remodeling project or custom home project. Typically, you and the architectural firm will put together a short list of 3-5 remodeling contractors to invite to bid on your remodel or addition. If the bids come in and they are out of line with your budget (usually higher), you now must go back to the architect to have the plans revised, which will be an additional fee as well as extra time added on to the project.
It is reported that half of all the architectural plans drawn for residential remodeling never get built because the remodeling quotes for the project as designed are above the homeowner’s budget.
What May Not Be Included in an Architect’s Project Cost Estimation?
In addition to many architects not having a firm grasp on what things actually cost, there are several items that we routinely see that are left out of project estimates. These are all things that homeowners may not think of either, which result in surprises further down the road and add to the overall project costs. Some of these often unforeseen project costs include:
● Heating and Air Conditioning
● Remodeling or upgrading existing areas surrounding an addition
● Patchwork and painting
● Debris removal
● Lead testing and remediation
● Dust protection
● And more…
While some of these potential additional fees can be quite modest, some of them can really add up, such as doing work to the existing areas where your home addition will attach.
Architects Provide Black and White Drawings
Chances are, you have seen new home or remodeling project prints and drawings before. If you have, you probably recall that they are done in 2D and black and white. While this is necessary to ensure proper measurement and layout, it can be difficult to visualize a project, which is a disadvantage for both homeowners and the remodeling contractors who are trying to quote the project. Since the drawings are in flat black and white, each remodeler may have a different take on what the project should look like. Since they will all have different visualizations, their project estimates may come in all over the place, which doesn’t help the homeowner too much when it comes time to make a decision.
The Alternative Is the Design Build Approach
Our Better Approach to Remodeling as a leading Minnesota project designer is to design and calculate prices in tandem to control your project budget. When we first meet with each homeowner, we go through our multi-point assessment, which helps us to gain an understanding of your budget, lifestyle, etc…
Our initial Discovery Meeting, part one of our 5-Part Process Design Build Process, includes:
● Lifestyle and design profile consultation to determine how your home can best suit your lifestyle
● Potential work scope assessment
● Universal design and aging in place strategies, where necessary
● Determining which of the four remodeling groups you are in – Do It Yourself, General Contract Your Own Project, Hire an Owner-Operator Remodeling Firm, Hire a Full Service Remodeling Firm
● Repair and renovation options for adjacent areas of main project area
● Dust protection plan
● Overview of possible design options for your project
● Estimated budget and contingency factors
● “Green Remodeling” options to improve household efficiency and be kind to our environment
● Assessment of funding and payment solutions, including sample project schedules
● Outline potential project timeline, including start and completion dates.
Following this initial discovery meeting, both you and Design Build Duluth will have a firm grasp on what you are looking for from your remodeling project or home addition. When all of this information is on the table, you can see how much better the project will progress and save you time and money, not to mention frustration.
Where Do Architects Come Into the Picture?
Great question and this is one we get all the time. After we submit our three design options to you and revise your chosen one based on feedback, preferences, and budget, we are able to offer you a final design layout using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software. At this time, we would help you hire a reliable local contractor for your particular project. In most cases hiring an architect is not required. If your local municipality requires certain aspects of the plans to have engineering, to obtain a permit, we are able to send the plans to one of partner Architectural & Engineering Firms to get the required engineering.
After the Project Plans are Complete
There are several steps in this part of the process, which you can read about in more depth here, but at this point we are ready to research and hire a remodeling contractor best suited for your project. Because we have already designed your project together based on your preferences and budget, and because the architectural plans are based on our agreed-upon designs, builders or remodeling contractors are able to be more precise with their estimates, which means the playing field is really level and you will be able to more easily compare estimates apples to apples. Again, this saves a lot of time because there are much fewer questions at this stage than with the typical architect + remodeler model without the involvement of Sageland Design.