Jeremy Jackson knows his way around a home design project.
As a partner at the construction company Jackson & Leroy, Jackson has extensive experience with all types of residential projects ranging from estate management to remodeling to new home construction.
When asked his opinion on how involving an architect impacts a project and his job as a contractor, Jackson said building a home-design team with both an architect and contractor is crucial.
“We totally believe in it,” he said.
Although he said having a good architect on the home remodeling team impacts many aspects of the job, he elaborated on three specific points — the remodeling process, the end product and the relationship between client and contractor.
Ultimately, having a good architect on board makes the contractor more efficient. “Rather than working on the size of the room, we are able to focus on what we do best: building the room,” he said. “When we work with an architect on a project, we have a clear objective. It allows us to focus on the schedule, the financial management and quality control.”
Jackson & Leroy has been in business for over 14 years, and most of their projects involve an architect. “Most of our clients have already engaged an architect, but if they haven’t we strongly encourage them to,” he said.
Interestingly, he said most of his clients are not first-timers.
“Many of our clients have done a project before and either had a bad experience or they oversimplified the process the first time,” he said. “Now the second time around, they realize the value of and need for an architect. This time, they want it done right.”
The end product
“We always want to deliver the best possible end product to the client,” Jackson said. “When an architect is involved in a project, everyone can concentrate on their expertise, which results in a better end product.”
Jackson explained that when you don’t have an architect on the job, someone has to assume that role. It is usually the contractor or the homeowner (or worse yet, both) trying to do the design work, but neither have the skill nor the schooling to do it well.
“When a contractor or an owner feels like they can take on the design, the outcome from those situations are never as good as it could be,” he said. “It is sad because though the outcome is usually fine, the homeowners don’t even know the possibility of what the project could have been.”
Having a well-planned-out professional design results from exploring many possibilities and thoughtfully determining the best solution.
Jackson has been called upon to take over projects where relationships have deteriorated from a lack of communication between contractor, architect and homeowner. Keeping the architect involved throughout the building process can keep communication channels open.
“Without a clear direction for the project, the contractor either starts making it up as he goes or he is waiting for direction from somewhere which delays the schedule,” Jackson explains. “What often happens is the contractor will do something he thinks is right based on conversations with the homeowner, but then the homeowner sees it and says, ‘I didn’t picture it like that.’”
The contractor may respond that he had previously explained what the outcome would be, but then the situation often declines into an endless round of finger-pointing.
“No one ends up being happy,” Jackson said. “In this situation, you can see how easy it is for the contractor/client relationship to deteriorate. Working with an architect will avoid 90 percent of those types of situations.”
‘Always worth it’
Ideally, the architect and the contractor work hand-in-hand to create the best solution for the client. Working with an architect even on small, seemingly simple projects makes for a smoother, more productive remodeling process, a better end result, and a more positive relationship for everyone involved.
“An architect provides the service of discovery,” Jackson said. “You may say ‘I want a 10 x 10 room. Can you draw it for me?’ An architect will ask, ‘Why do you need this room? What are your needs? ’”
Architects can help clients determine their needs, and then an architect can apply expertise to find the best solution. Whether they provide a different solution or validate your original premise, you will be sure of your design before you spend a lot of time and money on your home.
“Whether you are just moving one wall or redoing a whole house, involving an architect is always worth it,” Jackson said.
“We totally believe in it,” he said.
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