Why do I need an architect?
An architect is required when a client is contemplating the construction of any type of building. The architect is the only professional that has the proper training and experience to guide the client through the entire building process. One way for the state to ensure it's protection of health, safety and welfare of their citizens is to require that all drawings are prepared and stamped by a licensed architect.

How does the architect become competent in so many diverse areas?
An architect goes through a long period of training before he or she become licensed. First, the architect completes four or five years of formal academic training in courses covering all aspects of the design and building process. Second, the architect must have at least three years of experience working under the direct supervision of a licensed architect. Third the architect must pass a rigid nine-part examination administered by the state. Finally, the architect must develop a working knowledge of the technical disciplines of multiple consultants in order to coordinate their efforts.

What is required from the client?
To develop the most beneficial project, it is important to organize your thinking in advance. Document your vision by developing a program list of all the goals and objectives, spaces and rooms that you require. This will give the architect a starting point for the initial design. It’s important that you discuss your budget and time frame. It is essential that you stay open minded throughout the design process as the architect is interested in your requirements but is not set on fixed solutions or a specific design but will contribute his or her own innovative ideas and solutions based on experience. In addition to the program, it is expected that the client will provide a certified land survey and information about soil conditions of your property. If you don’t have this information the architect can help you obtain it. Lastly, be prepared to spend a lot of time in discussions, reviews, and site visits. The more communication, the better the end result will be.

What does the architect do?
There are five main phases in the design and construction process. Each phase has a variety of duties for the architect. First, the architect creates a Schematic Design following the program. Next is Design Development including checks for building code and ordinance compliance and coordination of various engineering and special consultant disciplines. Completion of the Construction Drawings and specifications is the third phase. Fourth is assistance with Project Pricing through competitive bidding or negotiation with qualified general contractors. Finally, the Architect assures that the actual construction complies with the requirements of the construction documents with regular visits to the project site.

How does the Architect create a Schematic Design?
The analysis begins with the program planning. The Architect analyzes the building functions and required interspacial relationships, site location and appropriate area for access and construction. He or she works with financial parameters and limitations, time schedules, code analysis and any special requirements requested by the client.

When does the documentation of the design begin?
The documentation begins with the start of the schematic design. The process includes a preliminary site plan indicating building size, location, parking and topography. The preliminary building plan includes a study of circulation, space uses, size and service areas. The aesthetic of the building is developed considering potential interesting views, architectural style, and preliminary materials and colors selection. The systems analysis also begins at this phase with the engineering and special consultants collecting data and formulating concepts. An initial cost estimate is usually provided at this time.

When do the construction documents begin?
Once the design is finalized construction documents are begun. The drawings and specifications are completed adding layers of detail. This is when the architect, structural engineer, mechanical and electrical engineers, civil engineer, landscape architect and interior designer coordinate to create the highest quality drawings to properly instruct the contractor during construction.

How do I select the contractor?
The most common method of selecting a contractor is through competitive bidding, although negotiated bids and cost-plus methods can also be used. The bidding documents consist of the Drawings and Specifications along with the Invitation to Bid and Instructions to Bidders. These documents are sent to the selected contractors, who, within a given deadline, provide a detailed price for building the project.

What does the architect do during construction?
The Architect's primary role at this point is to act as the agent of the owner. The Architect visits the site periodically to observe the progress and the quality of the contractor’s work. They can determine when defective work must be replaced. The Architect does not supervise the work but monitors for the correct installation of the work in accordance with the drawings and specifications, for completing the work on time and within the contract price. The Architect also reviews shop drawing submittals and reviews all payment requests.