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Building a New Home A-Z Guide

(page 4 of 6)

Locating a Good Architect is Paramount to the Process

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The architect that you hire will be involved in your project from beginning to end and you need to not only find a good one, but one who is suited to the type of house you wish to plan and build. You also want to find one you can communicate with easily. If the architect is also going to be the one overseeing the construction this becomes even more important. Take your time, interview as many architects as you need to before you make your final decision. Here are a few pointers to help you with that process:

  1. Consult with family, friends, neighbors, and work associates about who they hired to plan their new home project. Real estate agents and builders in your locality will also be able to make recommendations based on firsthand experience. Throughout this process always try to find people who have planned and built homes similar in style and size of the one you wish to build. You could be working with your architect for a long period of time depending on the size and scope of your project so try to choose someone you get along with, and who is able to communicate to you the important aspects of the job.

  2. If you have bought an old home that you wish to restore this requires a certain type of expertise. Ask the folks at your local historical society who has done favorable restoration work in the past. View completed projects of those who are recommended.

  3. The Internet will probably be your greatest resource for searching for an architect. Here is a great search tool for finding architects by classification and zip code. You can also do a general search using the keywords “architect” and “search."

  4. Once you have a short list of candidates contact them and arrange to meet them at their offices so that you can interview them and see if they are the correct firm for you and your project. If it is a large firm request that you meet with the people who will actually be handling your account. Be sure to ask them if you will be charged for their time spent with you in this meeting.

  5. Before you go to your meeting ask them to supply you with any brochures or information about them that can help better prepare you for your meeting.

  6. Do not simply meet one architect, the more architects you visit the better your chances of finding the one best suited to you and your needs.

  7. Ask to see examples of the prospective architect’s work to determine if you think they are the one for you. You will need to understand how they approach projects and what their general philosophy is.

  8. Ask prospects what the duration of your proposed project would be, not just the planning process, but the construction phases as well.

  9. Ask how much the plans will cost and how much the other fees will be for overseeing the project, and what they estimate the square footage construction cost will be.

  10. Who were their past clients? Ask for references of people whose homes you can visit to get a good idea of the work that they are doing. Ask these owners about any issues that may have arisen during the design and construction of the project.

  11. Ask to see any prospective architect’s license and credentials. Ask them about any professional affiliations, many times being a member of certain organizations means that the architect has committed themselves and their firm to a strict set of standards and values.

Do You Actually Need an Architect or is a Building Designer Better Suited to Your Project?

If you are looking to build a traditional style home that will not incorporate special structural elements or become too involved with unconventional designs you may want to look into hiring a professional building or home designer. These are experts at building one-family homes and they can be a lot less expensive than an architect. Not all home designers are certified so try to find one who is. Typically these professionals will charge you a fee based on a percentage of the total costs of construction.

Picking the Right House Plan for You

Before You Buy House Plans

No one builds a home without a plan. Some folks purchase stock plans and modify them to their needs while others hire an architect or home designer to provide them with a totally custom set of plans. Here are a few pointers on selecting different plans for your home:

  1. A good place to start looking for home plans would be in catalogs. Here you will find layout plans and elevation drawings too.

  2. The Internet is also a great place to look for house plans. There are many websites dedicated to this where you can browse plans and order them online.

  3. Are you the type of person who likes retro or older styles of homes, and want to build one of your own. Many Internet resources will have plans from the period that you like. You will need to have someone bring them up to current specifications for structure, wiring and plumbing, but the basic styles and design features will remain the same.

  4. There are now many web-based computer programs for designing and drawing house plans. You can also purchase software programs that will assist you in doing this. These programs can be quite easy to learn and they will allow you to design your own home using standard dimensions and features. By using one of these programs you can develop a good idea of how you want your home built and these plans are great in helping you to convey to an architect or home designer exactly what you want.

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