12 May 2010

What Architects Do — Services Rundown

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What do architects do?

Architects design living solutions. That means we help you identify what you need to live comfortably and create a place to do it that you can afford. All architects offer this service although the way they describe it differs.These are services clients request and their perceptions of it.

The Test is an evaluation to decide if your project makes sense. Usually remodel clients entertain several ideas, but only have the budget to do a small project. The test compares project budget, needs and value so you can decide which to pursue. Clients say The Test helps them pick the project with the best bang for the buck.

The Sketch is an exploration. I use everything I learn about you, your lot and our ideas to create design schemes. We explore high-level concepts in search of a “guiding light”. At this stage, we focus on simplified organization (how spaces interact) and form (how environment shapes the project). The schemes are basic and resemble mass models, but are not full-blown detailed designs. Clients say The Sketch is fun and it helps them visualize ways to solve their project challenges.

The Details is design refinement. We evolve the closest individual or combination scheme to create a personalized design. We pick everything that goes in your project (colors, finishes, materials, equipment, fixtures, built-ins). Design refinement is what separates mediocre design from fantastic design. Clients say The Details are intimidating and tiring because they have lots of homework (research) and many decisions to make.

The Docs are the way I communicate with your builder. Residential construction documents include the drawings, instructions, material choices and details that describe your personalized project. Most clients know they need these documents to get a permit and build a home and it’s the service they envision when they decide to hire an architect; however, my primary service is expertise and the documents are simply the way I describe your home to you and others. Clients describe The Documents as complicated and detailed.

The first four services are design services, an architect’s core service, but architects also offer construction services to help clients go all the way!

The Advisor means I help you choose a builder or bid your project. If the idea of screening builders, writing specifications or soliciting subcontractors intimidates you, I can alleviate the pressure. Finding the right products and the right builder are as critical as finding the right architect. How do you know if building products will perform properly? How do you know if your builder is qualified? I prefer to introduce you to a builder during design so we can work together. Clients say The Advisor assistance is insightful and comforting.

The Agent is a professional construction oversight service. If you’re confused about schedules, working drawings, submittals, change orders and payments, I offer The Agent service to manage the behind-the-scenes activities that ensure a smooth construction process. Think of it as risk management. Clients say The Agent service is reassuring and meaningful.

The Consultant is an everything-else service. If you need any design, construction or real estate service (engineering, surveys, interior design, as-builts, full-time representation, valuation), I contract with other professionals to provide the service you need and manage it so you can focus on enjoying the project completion. Clients say The Consultant service is a full-service benefit.

The Coach is a collaboration. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, but need professional design or construction assistance, I offer ad hoc professional advice to help you design or build your own project. The Coach is flexible and varied, but does not culminate in a ready-to-build design documents. Clients often combine The Coach service with my other services to advance a project from the idea stage to the move-in stage. Clients say The Coach service is educational and inspiring.

If you’ve never worked with an architect, knowing he/she provides a full service array from basic advice to total design and construction oversight should help you decide which architect services you need.

About the Author

Your Architect is Eric Faulkner -- an architect licensed in Texas & Oklahoma with 32 years experience in design, construction observation and life.