Pasadena Drive Residence, Austin, TX / Brentwood
We discussed the costs of hiring an architect in our last post, exploring common pricing structures, explaining what’s included in architectural fees, and outlining the architectural process. After considering these costs, you may be wondering whether you can skip the architectural fees altogether.
In some cases, you might be able to. For some projects, an architect isn’t strictly necessary—many building companies will take on the design phase, particularly for smaller projects and additions. If you have design experience under your belt, you might even consider tackling this part of the process yourself.
But as projects expand in size and complexity, experienced architects become a more critical part of the process. Architects are most important when design matters—when thoughtful planning, aesthetic beauty, or complex structural puzzle-solving are integral pieces of the project.
Here are some situations where you should consider consulting an architect:
Attaching a small guest room to the back of your house may not require hiring an architect. But if you have a bigger project, like adding an extra floor, an in-law suite, or building a new house from the ground up, an architect is an invaluable resource.
Even smaller projects can end up being complicated. Adding a room to a historic house, for example, or remodeling a home with a unique design could require expert planning to keep the building strong, safe, and aesthetically consistent.
On that note, if you’re building with a specific design aesthetic or philosophy in mind—for example, if you’re interested in using only sustainable building materials—you’ll probably want to consult with an architect or firm that specializes in that particular element of design. In this case, reviewing their portfolio can give you a good idea of whether their previous work matches your vision.
Maybe you’ve got a cramped office with poor airflow, or you need a new bathroom but have no extra room to build. Building isn’t always a process of expanding—architects are also experts at maximizing and reimagining existing space in your home. If there’s a longstanding issue with your house that you just can’t seem to solve, consulting with an architect often produces a creative solution.
Architecture firms are typically associated with the early planning phase of construction, but many are willing to oversee the later stages as well. There’s a lot of work to do before a structure can go up—there are permits to acquire, paperwork to complete, and contractors and technicians to hire, after which someone must ensure construction sticks to the original design.
If you’re uncomfortable or uncertain about this stage of the process, architects can act as useful intermediaries between you and your contractors. As the original designer, there’s no better party to ensure that every step of the process from conception to completion holds true to their plan—and, by extension, your initial vision.
It may seem paradoxical, but in many cases, hiring an architect ends up saving more money than it costs. Architects can help shape a project to a budget rather than letting the project dictate the final cost. Their expertise can prevent costly mistakes during construction, which quickly burn through your time and funds.
Moreover, experienced architects can operate within a tight budget to make a project work that might otherwise seem impossible. Through a combination of industry connections, cost-cutting measures, and expertise, a good architect can navigate financial constraints as easily as structural and spatial ones.
Is the fear of blowing your budget a real fear of working with an architect? It doesn’t have to be. Here are five tips for ensuring your collaboration with an architect exceeds your expectations without exceeding your budget:
Decided to move forward with an architect? If you are a homeowner in Austin, Texas, or the surrounding area, we invite you to get in touch with us at Webber + Studio. As one of Texas’s leading architectural design studios, we have decades of experience in designing custom residential homes and would be delighted to help bring your project to life.