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If you’re looking to construct a new building, whether it be a house or a business venue, one of your most important assignments is to surround yourself with the right professionals. An architect is undoubtedly one of the first specialists that will enter your thoughts. However, most inexperienced property builders and developers are a little confused and unsure about what the role of an architect actually entails.

Here’s all you need to know about architects, from their background and role to how they can actually support your proposed construction project.

At A Glance: What Is An Architect?

While everyone knows that an architect is a specialist focused on the design of buildings, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards defines them with the following statement:

“Licensed professionals trained in the art and science of the design and construction of buildings and structures that primarily provide shelter. An architect will create the overall aesthetic and look of buildings and structures, but the design of a building involves far more than its appearance.

Buildings also must be functional, safe, and economical and must suit the specific needs of the people who use them. Most importantly, they must be built with the public’s health, safety and welfare in mind.”

There are over 42,000 licensed architects in the United States via the NCARB registration, which is less than half of the overall figure that surpasses the 100,000 mark, and all of them are registered in their individual states.

Architects are not builders as such, but rather designers that boast the understanding and talent to produce details plans to confirm whether a vision is structurally sound. This also includes identifying and rectifying any potential problems before the building works commence.

The Different Types Of Architects

As with any skilled job in this sector, the term architect is actually quite broad. To truly understand what an architect does, it’s important to scratch under the surface by looking at the various types of architect roles out there.

Here are the types of architect you need to be aware of:

Residential architect – Primarily working for homeowners that want to build customized houses, but can work for the local authorities when designing new builds. They cover the spatial and functional requirements to provide plans and visual representations of the proposed works while also taking budgets into account.

Commercial architect – Working on business properties, they create the plans and layouts for offices, shops, shopping malls, warehouses, showrooms, and various other commercial venues. Well-designed buildings are functional and attractive without compromising on safety. Engineering and artistic skills are required.

Interior designer – Dealing with the internal aspects of properties, interior designs are tasked with building plans to maximise the look and function of various residential and commercial spaces. Their understanding of materials, fabrics, and furniture is combined with spatial awareness and a knowledge of structural integrity.

Landscape architect – Working on outside spaces such as parks, gardens, and public spaces, landscape architects have to consider the layouts and positioning of buildings while also choosing materials and dimensions for pathways, plants, and an array of other features. They can work on small scale residential gardens too.

Industrial architect – Concerned primarily with industrial facilities, they focus on creating plans for functional and efficient working environments. They understand the processes that may take place on those sites and will adapt the dimensions, layouts, and other features accordingly. They can work with every type of industrial building.

Architects may also specialize in niche markets such as green technologies or urban aesthetics. So, if you need an architect, connecting with the right type of professional should be high on the agenda.

What To Expect When Interacting With An Architect

While all projects and business relationships are unique, most will follow a relatively similar pathway from start to finish, especially when choosing a reputable and professional expert. The journey ahead is likely to look somewhat like the following:

Initial consultation – The architect will meet with you to discuss the project, looking at the goals, vision and budget. This gives the architect an opportunity to lay out their first thoughts, provide some advice, and decide whether it’s a job for them. Likewise, project managers (you) can use this as an opportunity to see if it’s the right fit. Only use an architect if your gut instincts are positive.

Concept design – The architect will analyze the existing building or plot of land before producing concept drawings and produce broad ideas built around the client’s initial goals. Inspirational materials may also be presented to judge the client’s likes and dislikes. This phase can be completed very quickly in some cases while others will require several conversations and attempts.

Design & documentation – The architect will build upon the agreed concepts by creating detailed plans (2D drawings, 3D drawings, and other renderings) that specify every element of the construction or renovation. This will also provide an opportunity to go over the anticipated costs while giving you a chance to survey every element to check that it suits your vision and budget.

Permission – The architect will finalize the design plans and send them off to the local authorities to gain planning permission. This is a crucial step that will prevent you from being hit with fines or other penalties. It can take a few weeks for this phase to be completed, but the green flag will provide a great deal of relief. The submitted plans often contain fewer detail than your documents.

Construction planning – The architect will help you with the pre-construction administration tasks of finding the right builder at the right price. Architects aren’t builders themselves and very rarely work with them in-house. However, they can support you through the process of finding contractors and reviewing bids before finalizing your decision. This includes checking surety bonds exist.

Following this, the architects main work is complete and the project is passed over to the builders. However, architects will maintain contact throughout the development until the point of completion to ensure that the building lives up to expectations.

What Technologies Do Architects Use?

An architect’s job is quite varied in that it incorporates a variety of individual tasks covering design, organization, admin, logistical and financial planning. While registered architects have gone through a lot of formal education in their field, the practical skills require the use of modern tech applications.

Throughout the course of the project, they may need to use each of the following:

  • Freehand and real-life drawing equipment, particularly for early concept drawings and plans. In many cases, Sketchup and similar drawing software will be used.
  • AutoCAD for 2D drawings and building plans.
  • REVIT BIM to create complete 3D models that use automation to ensure changes in one design are shown in all others.
  • Photoshop for the early phase drawings and making quick proposed edits to show the client.
  • InDesign for creating presentations to show clients as well as packaging designs for planning permission phases.
  • 3DS MAX to show accurate representations of how lighting will impact esthetics.
  • Budgeting and accounting software for recording the proposed costs.

This is in addition to using research tools to look for inspiration, material prices, and related elements.

What Else Should You Expect From An Architect?

In addition to the technical skills, it’s very important for your chosen architect to display a range of other skills. Otherwise, the technical drawings will largely go to waste.

The best architects will display all of the following:

Great communication skills – without them, ideas will become lost in translation throughout every step of the process, leading to major frustrations. Similarly, they need to accept that their role is to bring your vision to life. Not theirs.

Financial understanding – there’s nothing worse than an unfinished project due to unrealistic financial forecasts. The architect should acknowledge the budget and have the ability to make accurate predictions.

Good organization – architects have to spin a lot of plates at once while you also have a timescale to work with. Poor timekeeping and general organization should have the alarm bells ringing as it does not bode well for the project.

An architect should ultimately be approachable, professional, and informed on the subjects of construction, finance, and local regulations.

The Benefits Of Using An Architect

Building a home or commercial venue isn’t cheap. Therefore, you should only invest in services that are in your best interests. While an architect won’t be needed by everyone, especially when looking solely at cosmetic renovations rather than structural transformations, most new builds that have specific requirements will benefit from using an architect.

Here are some of the reasons for choosing an architect:

  • Bring your vision to life by having building plans and constructions that are tailored to your ideas and innovations for the very best outcomes.
  • Gain advice and suggestions from professionals that know about trends, techniques, designs, and materials that you may have overlooked or not even be aware of.
  • Know that every detail of the build will be thought of, down to the easily forgettable issues such as lighting, plumbing, and storage.
  • Save money on materials by learning about alternative options and gaining advice on where to buy items at trade prices.
  • Acquire the support of the best building teas when construction starts through the extensive network boasted by the architect.
  • Know that the plans sent off to the authorities for planning will be presented in a professional and engaging manner built to get the green light.
  • Enjoy the knowledge that your well-designed building is also likely to be more valuable, making it a profitable investment.
  • Save time and prevent the frustrations that will inevitably surface when taking other pathways, particularly the DIY approach.
  • Ensure that your building is designed and constructed in a way that helps preserve the earth, removing any social guilt you may have felt.
  • Remove the threat of making a  mistake and give yourself a chance to finalize your vision before going ahead with the proposed works.

Virtually any building project that plans to deviate from the generic plans being widely used in today’s traditional housing and commercial market will find that the use of an architect is the most practical, financially savvy, and emotionally reassuring decision. Given that you don’t want to buy a standard pre-built building, you’ll almost certainly fit into this category.

The Final Word

Architects are highly skilled professionals that are essential for custom homes and commercial settings alike while they can also help unlock a building’s full potential when it requires renovations. Nonetheless, the investment is only worthwhile you can be sure that you’ll receive a professional and tailored service.

With iDesgin Works, your project is in safe hands.