People are interesting: Sometimes they respect expertise and professional education, and sometimes they don’t. We recently had a conversation on this topic with our associate Shawn Guthrie of USI All-Purpose Windows and Doors in Salt Lake City.
“We don’t go to our friend who is sick and ask them for medical advice; when we are sick, we go to the doctor,” Guthrie said. “We understand and respect their expertise and professional education.”
When working with an architect, you are paying someone for more than just drawing up a set of plans. Trying to save money by not hiring an architect can cost in setbacks, redesigns, delays in getting permits and a project that never reaches its full functional or design potential.
The same principle should apply to other professions, including architecture. There is a difference between asking your friend who is a good artist to draw your house plans and hiring an architect.
“It is more than just drawing a picture of a house,” Guthrie explained. “You can be a talented artist, but an architect is a talented artist with an education. The education is the strong point of an architect.”
As in the medical industry, there are different levels of education and specialties within the realm of home design and architecture. Hiring an architect is like hiring a cardiologist for your heart surgery. While another doctor could probably perform the surgery in an emergency, it would not be your best choice because they don’t specialize in hearts. They don’t have extra years of schooling, training and continuing education to bring to your situation.
Designers, drafters and even the overzealous homeowner with a DIY home design software program can draw house plans. However, that doesn’t mean it will be the best solution.
Designers, drafters and even a homeowner with a DIY home design software program can draw house plans. However, that doesn’t mean it will be the best solution. While such efforts may be good, there is a better and best option that should also be considered. When working with an architect, you are paying someone for more than just drawing up a set of plans. Trying to save money by not hiring an architect can cost in setbacks, redesigns, delays in getting permits and a project that never reaches its full functional or design potential.
Guthrie related the story of one of his clients who set out to remodel a home in Promontory Ranch in Park City. The homeowner thought she knew what she wanted, so she engaged a home designer to create a set of construction plans. While the plans looked great, they didn’t meet some of the building codes and Homeowner’s Association covenants for the community. The project ran into delays and redesigns just because the designer didn’t know better, which Guthrie said likely wouldn’t have happened if a trained architect had been used.
Part of the training an architect receives is focused on the consulting and client relationship aspect of their profession. Much time is spent consulting, asking questions, looking at the house, looking at the neighbors’ houses and studying the codes, covenants and restrictions.
“Architects are on site taking pictures of the house at different times of the day before they draw a single line on the plan,” Guthrie said.
While no training, degree or license is required to declare yourself a home designer, you need a professional university degree (either bachelor’s of architecture or a master’s of architecture), a three year internship and a passing grade on all portions of a nationally administered registration exam to become an architect. In addition, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) require that you annually earn 18 hours of continuing education credits to maintain your architect license in the state of Utah.
“Because architects are required to earn continuing education points to maintain their license, an architect is always learning,” Guthrie said.
Guthrie said he finds it is easier to work with architects because of their knowledge base in the industry and of products and building materials.
“Architects are concerned about price, but they also understand the quality, durability and longevity of a product,” he said. “They have a working knowledge and comprehensive understanding.”
He said an architect learns about all aspects of a product and understands the associated technical benefits of each one. Selecting a product as important as windows requires not only an eye to the aesthetics of the home but also a thorough understanding of the cost, function and specifications of each unit so they can be matched appropriately to each client’s needs.
“I help them if they have questions on sizes and limitations,” he said. “It becomes a team: homeowner, architect, and window guy.”
Guthrie went on to explain that he appreciates the expertise an architect can bring to a home design project.
“I have a lot of confidence when I work with an architect, and I know they bring a lot to a project,” Guthrie says. “An architect takes pride in their projects. It is their baby. Many have a signature design they add to their projects to make them theirs. They love their projects and own a job for life.”
Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the principal architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to ask@RenovationDesignGroup.com