Should You Hire an Architect?
Few people realize how complicated a building project can be until they are in the middle of it and nothing is going the way it should. An architect is the one professional with the education and training to help you make the best decisions in the building process.
Architecture, unlike interior design or construction, is a licensed profession. To become an architect, an individual must obtain a five-year professional degree from an accredited college, participate in at least a three year internship program, and pass a rigorous exam which covers all conceivable problems faced in the building process.
Architects are trained to solve problems in creative ways. Whether you need room for a growing family or for a growing business, by employing an architect you can save money on your project, make life easier, and end up with a result that meets your needs and your budget.
What Requirements Must an Architect Fulfill to Become Licensed?
The State of Pennsylvania requires a comprehensive combination of education and practical experience (internship) prior to sitting for the licensing exam. A typical combination would be a five-year professional architecture degree from an accredited college plus three years of practical experience working for a licensed architect. After those requirements are completed, an architect can apply to take a seven-part examination administered by the Pennsylvania State Architect’s Licensure Board. Upon passing the exam, an architect is licensed to practice in Pennsylvania. Licensure assures the public that the architect has received the necessary training to protect their health, safety, and welfare.
How Are Architects Compensated for Their Work?
An architect’s fee will vary based on many factors. As in most professions, the experience of the architect will determine the hourly rate an individual will charge. The size and complexity of a project is also a major consideration when an architect evaluates the scope of work involved. No two projects are alike. Every building project has its own unique challenges; therefore, an architect’s fee is not based on design work alone. It reflects design, project management, zone and code reviews, and construction administration, among other potential contractual responsibilities.
Some architects base their fee on a percentage of construction costs, others may agree to a fixed fee prior to starting the work, while some prefer to bill by the hour. Clients are encouraged to discuss with an architect the advantages and disadvantages of a specific fee basis for a particular project.
How Is a Construction Budget Established?
It is quite likely that a construction project will be one of the largest purchases any of us will make in our life. Just as with other large expenditures like a car, each individual must evaluate the qualitative and quantitative criteria and balance their desires with their ability to pay for it. Unlike a car there are no showrooms displaying examples of finished products from which to choose. Each project is unique and contains its own set of programmatic information, which must be evaluated by an architect and discussed with a client so the project is clearly defined before work begins.
Do I Need an Architect?
Some municipalities require a Pennsylvania-licensed architect to prepare and seal construction documents for residential and commercial projects. A call to your local building official will clarify the requirements in your area. Additionally, the zoning codes of many municipalities specify a number of requirements that must be followed when building a new structure or adding on or remodeling an existing structure. Architects are qualified to review these requirements and prepare the necessary documents for approval.