If you’re looking at a complicated restoration or upgrade to your home, you may find yourself hiring an architect. You may think you only need an architect for a custom-designed new home. However, a significant change to floor plans and structure means an architect is a good idea for your restoration.

Especially if you’re making a significant investment or have a unique historical home. A general contractor works fine if you need practical solutions. But an architect can integrate engineering with aesthetics for an overall stunning result. A general contractor can bring current codes into play, but if you need more creative solutions, an architect can provide an array of options.

What Do Architects Do?

Architects study building design, ergonomics, and the aesthetic arts. They work from a broader viewpoint with the aim of creating an entire environment. They take all aspects of your lifestyle into account when designing your home. The architect then creates a start-to-finish plan for building or renovating your home.


This stage involves consulting with the homeowner to reveal their needs, budget, and how they use their home. The architect visits the site, explores available utilities, the surrounding neighborhood, landscaping, and the existing home. She’ll examine the existing house blueprints to identify possible structural issues and find options for your renovation. The architect then comes up with several possible designs.

Design Development

Once the client chooses a design, the architect creates drawings by computer-aided drafting (CAD) software (blueprints are somewhat obsolete) to set the design down on paper. The general layout of the house and measurements show the general building design plan. Once these are approved, she’ll create a more detailed set of drawings.

Construction Documents

These are detailed drawings that provide more information about measurements and elevations. A set of specifications provides approved materials and fixtures, even work methods. Every element of the design is considered. Often, engineering specialists provide electrical, mechanical and plumbing documents for those systems.


Your architect is familiar with area construction companies. She can manage bid proposals to ensure you’re getting the best price from a crew with the experience and knowledge to do the job correctly.

Construction Administration

Along with design, an architect can manage the project as it progresses. She will be available to answer any questions from the contractor or solve unforeseen problems. She and her team also inspect the site regularly to ensure that all is going to plan.

Questions to Ask When Hiring an Architect

Hiring an architect can seem intimidating. But remember, they’re working for you. Therefore, you deserve to find someone in tune with your vision and your budget.

It’s not always about the money, either. A less experienced architect may have more experience working with historical homes than a senior partner. So, it’s a good idea to sit down and ask a few questions.

1. What improvements should we be making that we might be overlooking?

This question will help you assess their creativity quotient and what new ideas they can bring.

2. Do you have a certain style you think is your trademark?

When hiring an architect, sometimes you’re buying into a career built on a certain style of building. Make sure it matches your project.

3. Will you do all the work, or will it be assigned to junior designers?

Often, architects will leave simple tasks to junior associates. It’s nothing to worry about, since the architect does the actual design and signs off on all the drawings. Architects often outsource systems design to engineering or landscape designers. These are specialist fields, so feel reassured that any work done is up to code.

4. How much project management will you be handling?

You’ll need to know how much of your architect’s time you’re hiring, and what you’ll need to oversee yourself.

5. What are your billing terms?

Architects can bill in several ways. Some bill by percentage of the entire constructions costs. For restorations, it could be 15 to 20 percent of the cost. Other architects bill by the hour, depending on the work provided. Your architect might bill between $60 and $150 an hour. However, work done by junior designers should be billed at a much lower rate. Some architects may even bill on a square footage basis, or a combination of hourly and square footage.

However they answer, before hiring an architect, ask for a detailed proposal that clearly shows how you’ll be billed. Furthermore, if you’re concerned about costs mounting up and surprising you at the end, you can also ask for a “not-to-exceed” fee to cap the cost within your budget.

6. Do you have recommended contractors or will you manage the bidding?

It helps to have someone in the field provide recommendations to steer you toward a reliable contractor. It’s especially important for keeping costs under control. Your architect should be able to help you find the right contractor for the job, and may even be able to manage the bidding.

Why Hire an Architect

In short, an architect can save you a lot of time and anguish during a home renovation. She can find creative solutions to your restoration problems. Your architect already knows what works and what does not.

Manufacturers constantly develop new products and building materials that last longer and are more resistant. Your architect can identify which of the products will give you a long-lasting and beautiful restoration within your budget.

An architect can identify problems before they start. She’ll know which walls you can move and which you shouldn’t touch. She will be able to make the most of your existing home, budget, and schedule, bringing in a team of specialists to complete the job.

Hiring an architect may seem unnecessary, but when you’re making big changes to a historic home that deserves special care, it’s worth considering for its renovation.


Featured Image CC by 0, by White Session, via Pixabay

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