When hiring an architect for an upcoming project, you need to understand the range of services that architects provide, and how they can help you complete your project in the best way possible.

Despite popular belief, only a small number of architects actually design houses. It’s also another misconception that when you hire an architect to design a house, they give the work to a builder, who completes the project. This is one way of completing the project, but an architect can also see a project through from start to finish, when hired by a client to do so. Residential architects offer a range of services and you can save a lot of money by simply hiring them for the services you need.

Architects offer comprehensive services that are broken into several sections:

Schematic design, where the architect visits a site, analyses it, and gathers information from their clients about design ideas, budget, and needs. This information is then used to develop a detailed written statement of needs and goals. The architect then comes up with concepts and rough sketches to show the size, layout, and possible appearances of the building.

Design development, which occurs once the client accepts a preliminary design. This means turning a rough concept into a real building design with floor plans, a roof design, and some of the interior and exterior details that will give the building style and character.

Construction documents, which are the detailed drawings and written specifications that should be detailed enough that you can get solid bids from contractors, who will produce the building.

Negotiation, where the architect helps you seek bids from contractors who the architect feels are qualified for the project. The architect will answer questions from the potential contractors about the building designs, to clarify the specs, and possibly make revisions to the plans.

Construction Administration, in which the architect functions as an agent, making sure the builder and subcontractors are following the plans and specifications to the letter.

Hiring an architect is always appealing if you don’t have the time or the skills needed to design or manage a project by yourself. However, most architects work for either an hourly rate or for a fixed fee based on a percentage of the construction costs. Prices will also reflect the level of service provided.

A good architect can offer a lot of services, but you may not need everything they are willing to offer. An experienced architect can bring fresh design ideas to the table, which makes them invaluable to a new project. How far you want the architect to take the design is up to you.

Finally, remember to build a cooperative team. Your architect and your builders and contractors need to work well together so that no one butts heads over the design plans. Your want your project to run smoothly. Ensure that every member of your team is happy working together, and that they’ve had experience working with other architects before. The architect, builder, and project owner must respect each other and work collaboratively to keep issues to the minimum.