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Do I Need an Architect For My Remodel

Every once in a while we will receive a phone call from a customer saying they do not want to get an estimate on their remodel because they want to hire an architect for their project.  As a Design Build contractor, we find ourselves educating homeowners on the difference between hiring a contractor, hiring an architect, and hiring a Design-Build company.  Here are some key differences for you to consider if you are planning a major home remodel:

Framing Contractor - San Diego General ContractorsContractor

If you are making major changes to your home such as adding or removing a wall, you may find that some contractors will ask you if you have plans already.  If you do not have plans, they may suggest you connect with an architect before calling them for an estimate.  These types of contractors do not have the knowledge or team available to them to create a design or develop plans for which you can obtain competitive bids.  They are builders, not designers.

Floorplan visuals - San Diego Design Build ContractorArchitect

Architects are trained to understand structures of buildings.  They understand design concepts, but are not trained in design.  Architects understand construction, but they do not build.  Many times architects charge upwards of $10,000 for their time and plans.  The plans can be used for you to get competitive bids from contractors who build.  What many homeowners do not understand is that architects are not familiar with building costs, therefore if you have a budget you are trying to keep within, your architect is not likely to suggest how to keep within your budget.  Rather, they are there create plans based on what you say your “perfect” home would be – with no regard to how much it will cost to build.  Many times this means the estimates for the remodels come in much higher than anticipated and require going back to the architect for design changes.  Hiring an architect many times results in a significant delay in getting the project started because of the extra back and forth between the architect and the contractor.

Design Build Company

Design Build companies are the cream of the crop.  They are the one stop shop for your major home remodel.  With a designer, architect, and builder on staff your Design Build company has the ability to listen to what your dream home would include and design it for you.  With your budget in mind, the architect working on your plans will be working side by side with your contractor to ensure the design can be built within your budget.

We understand this can be a little confusing.  Here are some questions we typically hear from customers who are trying to decide if they should hire an architect or Design Build company.

Design Build FAQ’s

Q)  What is the difference between an Estimate and a Design Contract?

A)  Estimate:  This is an educated guess of what the project will cost from beginning to completion of the project.   If you sign a contract based on an estimate, you have decided the contractor is qualified and capable of remodeling your home.  The contract will include a total price for the remodel.  Many times these contracts include a very rough hand – sketch of what the design will be.

Take away:   A contract based on an estimate is for the entire amount of the project.  If you sign a contract that is based on an estimate, you run the risk of having price fluctuations during the project as you finalize the design of your project. 

Design Contract:  When you hire a design build company, you have already decided the firm has the qualifications and capabilities to build your project but you are not 100% sure about the design of your project.  You want to ensure the design is what you want before you proceed on building.  You also want to know exactly what your remodel will cost before proceeding with the contract.

Take away:  A design contract is for the design portion of your remodel only.  Once the design is complete and you are satisfied, you continue to the next stage and hire the contractor who has prepared the design for you.

Q)  Do I get to keep the plans so I can get other estimates based on the design?

A)  If you hire an architect to create your plans, yes.  Homeowners who have hired an architect typically do so because they want to get competitive bids using a set of plans.

If you have signed a contract for a design with a Design Build contractor, the answer is no.  The design is provided at a severely discounted rate because you are working together in good faith that you will proceed with building the remodel with that particular contractor.   Remember, you have already decided this was the contractor who was qualified and capable of building your remodel.  Your only question at the time of signing a design agreement should have been what your final design would look like.

 Classic Home Improvements

Classic Home Improvements is a unique contractor in San Diego.  Our services include Design Build as well as traditional building contractor.  So if you have an architect who has provided you with plans, we are more than happy to provide a free estimate based on those plans.  In the event you decide you would like to remodel your house with a Design Build contractor, we are qualified to assist you with that as well.  Our offices are located in Escondido, CA and we service San Diego and Temecula.