5 Answers to Common Questions Asked of Architects

As architectural professionals we are often asked the question:  “Can you draw plans?”  Our first though is “Well, of course I can.”  Asking an architect if they can create plans is like asking a poet if they can type.   The act of drawing plans is one of the many tools that we utilize to convey the desired finished design of a building to a contractor so that it may be built as planned.  But the frequency of this sort of question has brought us to the realization that many people are unfamiliar with the architectural profession.  We would like to help change that by addressing common questions and statements to explain a little more about what we do.

You may also be interested in What does an Architect add to a project (beside a seal)?

1: I don’t need an architect…I need a designer.

Architects are artists, poets, designers, problem solvers and engineers.  When given the freedom to design, we can take the program of a building and turn it into a space which provides both function and meaning.  The average architect student spends 6 years in university studio studying and exploring the relationship of space, color, and human interaction.  During this time we no only learn how to create beautiful presentations, but also develop a strong background in engineering through the study of building sciences.  Architecture is where art and science meet.  We love to design, we are good at it, and will do so whenever the opportunity is presented to us.

2: Can you draw plans?

As we first discussed, yes, of course.  But what is this question really getting at?  Typically when I hear this and similar questions, it is from someone who just discovered that a city or other regulatory agency requires sealed plans for their building permit.  Or, perhaps they sketched out an idea on piece of paper and their contractor wanted something more solid to build from.  In both cases, it is important for those seeking an architect to understand that we do not simply draw plans.  We look at the needs of our clients, the site conditions, the local code requirements and combine the many factors at play into what becomes the plans.  Even if a plan was already created by someone else, we may not be able to just draw and seal it because as licensed professionals we must comply with local codes and ordinances.  Following the law not only protects us, it helps prevent construction delays from failed inspections and lawsuits from missing accessible features.   It’s important to remember that while contractors may be great at building and drafters are good at placing lines in cad, they often do not have training in design and may not be aware of code requirements.

3: I really just need a color/finish palette…but that’s not what architects do.

While our main focus is delivering a functional, beautiful structure that fits both your design goals and the unique needs of the project site, architects also frequently assist in the selection of interior finishes and furniture.  Through our studio studies we developed a background in color theory that is necessary for paint selection and a knowledge of history and design aesthetic needed for selecting appropriate furniture.  Many architects, specialize in Interior Architecture and have experience with materials and furnishings similar to what is commonly expected of Interior Designers.

4: Why would I want construction administration services?

Few people realize how complicated the construction process can be until they find themselves in the middle of it.  During construction, architects can serve as client representatives to monitor progress for compliance with the owner approved construction documents.  We can review pay applications to ensure progress stated in the payment aligns with what is observed on site.  If a problem comes up, we can assist in weighing options based on economics and efficiency.  Some projects only need us to observe about once a month or so while others may require daily site visits to keep everything moving forward smoothly.  Without an architect involved in construction services, the owner must either fulfill that role themselves or hire a 3rd party who is unfamiliar with the previous design discussions.  We believe that once all things are taken into consideration, utilizing architects for construction services is an economical choice.  We would be happy to discuss the specifics of your project’s construction phase to determine the level of services that is a good fit for you.

5: Can you lower your fees?

We truly do understand the struggle to keep the overall costs associated with construction within budget.  We also realize this is especially important for homeowners on limited budgets.  So, can we lower our fees?  Sometimes we can’t, other times we have already sharpened our pencil to the point that almost nothing is left.  We determine our fees based on the amount of time it takes to deliver the quality of services that you expect from us and that we expect of ourselves.  In addition to covering time spent we also have overhead and a little bit of profit.  If you think our fees are not reasonable, please talk to us about it.  We can explain where we think we will need to spend time on your project and sometimes there are services which can be removed in order to fit your budget.

How Do I find an Architect?  

Luckily for you, you have come across the blog of an Architecture Firm, Rittiluechai Architecture, who has the ability to work on projects anywhere in the United States.  We have experience with a wide range of projects types and would be happy for you to contact us to discuss your residential or commercial project.  Our firm size allows us to provide bespoke services with executive level involvement on all projects.

We also encourage you to speak with other firms so that you can make an informed decision when selecting an architect that is the right fit for your project needs.  To locate other architecture firms, please contact your local American Institute of Architects (AIA) office.

About Whitney Ford

Whitney Ford graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor's of Architecture in Architecture from Oklahoma State University and has worked with Jeramie Rittiluechai since that time. In 2009 Jeramie Rittiluechai Architecture was founded and Whitney started working with RA as contract drafter and graphic designer. Towards the beginning of 2011 Whitney joined the RA team full time as Project Manager. Whitney is now the RA Vice President in charge of overseeing all projects and firm management. Connect on Linked In: www.linkedin.com/in/whitneyford/

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