You’ve spent hours surfing Houzz, put together multiple Pinterest boards, have a giant folder of pages torn from Coastal Living and a napkin sketch or two. Whether you are looking at lots or contemplating a remodel project, it might be time to consider hiring an architect.
Amy Stoles from Archiscapes offers the following tips for how an architect can help shape your dreams into the perfect home.
1. A lot or a home?
Don’t wait to talk to an architect until after you purchase the property. An Architect can help you evaluate a site’s potential. Does the slope mean you will spend more in your foundation than you budgeted? Do the neighborhood guidelines allow you to build your dream home? Best to get those answers before you close on the property.
2. Maximizing the value of your lot
Let’s face it, the reason you bought here in the first place is because you love the beauty of 30A. An architect looks at a site and starts with the views. Where are the best visuals? Forest, water, parks, town centers? You want your home to take advantage of your views and maximize the potential of your lot. This includes creative ways to place the big things — the house, the garage, the pool — and even the little things like the AC units or an outdoor shower.
3. Navigating local codes and neighborhood design guidelines
If you want a building permit, you will have to meet the codes and requirements that pertain to your site. Your home’s height, setbacks, size and exterior finishes must meet neighborhood, county and, in some cases, state regulations and codes. An architect can help you navigate all of these requirements.
4. Prioritizing a wishlist that doesn’t bust the budget
Most of us have eyes bigger than our stomachs, and that can be especially true when it comes to homes. A well-executed design of 2,400 square feet can feel just as large the 3,500-square-foot home you thought you needed. Or maybe you want to redo the kitchen and master bedroom and add a pool, but have a tight budget. An architect can help you keep the addition simple and set construction phases. Maybe you do the pool next year or re-work your existing space to save money. It’s a matter of getting creative.
5. Crafting an historically detailed home
Details are what sets a house apart – exposed rafter tails, brick patterns and historically detailed columns can make all the difference in the world. Invest in a good architect that will get the details right and you will have a timeless home that has great curb appeal. To help you understand how all these details complement one another, we typically sketch and provide computer models for our clients showing how the house will look and even illustrating things like sun angles and solar heat gain, color options and railing details.
6. Advice on materials and construction methods
You want a house with low maintenance, but you like the look of wood. You love brick, but want your house to feel like it belongs at the beach. An architect can walk you through your options and what you can expect from each in terms of how they handle the 30A climate. Certain materials and finishes that work great in Atlanta or Birmingham, may not do as well right on the coast. Local architects know from experience what can withstand the salt and sun and what can’t.
7. Selecting a contractor and preparing documents
Construction documents are pages and pages of plans showing elevations, sections (imagine cutting a slice through a cake showing all the layers) and details. The more sections and pages you have that explain how the project goes together, the more information the contractor has when it comes time to build. We also want our clients to have fun during construction. A solid set of plans and a good contractor is a good way to begin the process. Ask your architect for a list of contractors before you build.
8. Throwing out some imaginative ideas you may have never considered
So many of our clients come to us with an idea of how they want their home to look. In return, we like to throw crazy ideas back at them and see what sticks. Trust your architect to get creative and keep an open mind. Most of our clients go with at least a few of our crazy ideas and often come back later to tell us those are the best parts of their home.
9. Coordinating with the engineers
You will need a structural engineer to help design the framing, foundation and hurricane strapping required for a building permit. On top of that, certain sites will need a civil engineer to consider storm water management. Your architect will know what engineers will be required for your project and can coordinate their efforts.
10. Being there for you until the project is done
If you have questions or concerns during construction, an architect can help you. We love visiting job sites and hanging out with contractors. They are a great source on the latest products and construction methods and that helps us constantly stay on top of changes in the field. Your architect should be your advocate during construction and help you continue to make decisions, review the construction process and talk to the contractor about how the project is going until your move in day.