Why Hiring the Less Expensive Architect Could Lead to Disaster

When hiring any professional, it is tempting to choose the individual or company that gives you the best price on their services. However, sometimes opting for the cheaper option is not always the best choice, especially if it puts you in a position to forfeit the kind of quality that you are looking for when you are contracting out a job. Before jumping on one of these half-priced architects, take a moment and understand what it may really be costing you in the long run.

It is All About the Details

When you pay a higher price for premium architecture services, you can do so with the assurance that the architect you are employing is focusing on the details that your project requires. Architecture is about much more than simply drawing a sketch of a building that you are having constructed or remodeled. When you work with a half-price architect, you are putting yourself and your project at risk of missing out on some of those details.

Due diligence is one of the most important aspects of quality architecture and paying an architect for his or her time to do this properly is a part of the estimate that you are given. When choosing the right architect, it is important to verify that they are including proper due diligence in their scope of work, and that the entire scope of work, including engineering and city coordination is all included. For instance, we would not commit to an architect that has not physically visited the project site. When proper due diligence or analysis of existing conditions is neglected, you run the risk of longer project timelines, increased prices, and unforeseen issues that your architect may not be ready to tackle. Those issues can result in incomplete or unsatisfactory work, or a price increase on the backend of the project.

As a project moves forward, typically a “Design Development” phase will take place, in which the concepts put forth during schematic design will begin to take form on paper. Taken from an article on buildingadvisor.com, they state that this is “the nitty-gritty work of turning a rough concept of spatial relationships into a real building design with floor plans, a roof design, and some of the interior and exterior trims and details that give a building style and character”.

Unfortunately, with a cheaper architect, clients run the risk of getting plans back with architectural flaws that will need to be fixed. These types of issues arise from lack of due diligence and architects trying to make plans work for a building that simply does not work. Fortunately, there are feasibility studies, which will usually include “a floor plan, a detailed building section that lets you see the interior, a site study, a cost estimate, and a pencil sketch of the project’s exterior”. Utilizing a feasibility study will not only give an architect a better idea of the space they will be working within, but it will give you, the client, knowledge of what to be looking out for.

Missing MEP Items

MEP, which is short for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing, is a key aspect of any architectural project. As plans are drafted and MEP consultants are brought in for their work, architects need to consider all MEP plans and coordinate these aspects accordingly. Failure to do so can result in problems during the construction process, with the reality of higher costs and inaccurate plans very real.

For instance, the lighting that you choose for the building you are having constructed is not only an important part of the design aesthetic, but also is an important safety aspect for occupants of the building. Over the years, there have been numerous accounts of work needed to correct lighting issues caused by the MEP and Architect not properly coordinating and discussing their respective drawings. The pricing that contractors quote you is based on the designs that your architect provides. If the discount architect that you choose skips over some of the necessary details, the contractor may not know that until the construction process has begun. Contractors will have to work with the architectural team to right these wrongs, but the original pricing will have increased, and your budget is the first thing that suffers.

If the contractors who are completing your project must make changes, their price quotes are no longer relevant, which leaves your bottom line in jeopardy. What originally seemed like an economical option in the front end of the project, opting with the cheaper architect, has now turn into headaches, extended timelines, and even higher costs than originally planned for. Furthermore, designing and ultimately constructing facilities that meet state and local ordinances is an important part of the process. Discounted architects often fail to do the necessary research on local codes, which means the plans that they present to you may not even be up to code in your area.

Taking a commercial project from a rough concept, through grand opening is tedious and challenging. Fortunately, there are numerous firms that specialize in handling the process from start to finish; allowing clients the ability to choose their level of involvement in their project. One important question that one should ask themselves before moving forward with an architect is “How involved do I want to be?” In an article from JW Management, written by Craig Wasilchak, the article poses the question, “Do you want to prioritize managing the construction build out of your new commercial space, or do you want to spend your time and energy managing your business and making money?”

This answer varies person to person, and company to company, however what remains constant are the key aspects that make a set of architectural plans fundamentally sound; proper due diligence, coordination of plans between all involved parties, and an understanding of clients needs.

At SCGWest we take a three-phase approach to all of our projects; Due Diligence, Architectural & Engineering, and Construction. This 3-phase approach allows us to mitigate these types of issues previously discussed, allowing for a smoother, more efficient process. To learn more and see how our process can be of benefit, click here!

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