Do You Need an Architect?

As one of the newest Project Architects at SALA, I’ve been spending more time intaking calls and emails from prospective clients. While doing so, I often find myself talking with people who have varying levels of knowledge about architects in general, and what it’s like to work with one. It has long been evident to me that it is not well understood by the general public what architects do, and what exactly our role is within the design and construction industry.

SALA Architect Katie Leaf

Judging by the architects I’ve seen on TV or in movies, here’s what is known about us:

  1. Architects draw “blueprints” or floor plans
  2. Architects wear funny glasses
  3. Architects work late hours
  4. Architects design skyscrapers
  5. Architects have drafting boards and are good at sketching
  6. Architects wear black

Well, addressing the accuracy of these stereotypes is a blog for another day, but my main takeaway is that most don’t consider that our skills and work go well beyond drawing a floor plan, and include significantly smaller projects than skyscrapers. But what actually is the scope of our work, and how do you know whether you need an architect for your project? To help answer this question, I’ve created this handy flow chart! (Disclaimer: every project is unique, so this chart may not apply accurately to every situation.)

SALA Architect Katie Leaf

As you can see, our greatest value lies in design– we are skilled at planning, organizing and understanding spaces both on paper and in three-dimensions, problem solving, creative solutions, and thinking. We love to translate your ideas into a working building, but we don’t take on projects that require simply drafting rather than design. When architects are in school, we learn about the three primary principles of architecture: Firmitas (strength/durability), Utilitas (function), and Venustas (beauty), and we strive to incorporate each of these into every project. Furthermore, at SALA we have a wealth of experience in residential design, and have collectively seen thousands of home problems and solutions.

SALA Architect Katie Leaf

One thing to note is that while we have good knowledge of the construction process, because we don’t build things or buy construction materials, we do not provide complete construction cost pricing for projects. For that, you’ll need to consult a builder or general contractor since they have the best ability to get current cost information. Although, we do estimate based on current, comparable costs per square foot or similar recent projects. It does help the pricing process, however, to have drawings from an architect.

SALA Architect Katie Leaf

All this creativity does come with a cost. Just like every professional who has earned an education, experience, and professional licensure in their field, architects require fees. We believe that our cost can bring great value to your project, but if you don’t agree, working with an architect may not be for you.

So to recap, generally:
No: Just drafting, Construction Pricing, Building, Ordering Products, Roofing.
Yes: Designing, Planning, Master Planning, Reorganizing spaces, Thinking, Ideas, Detailing, Inventing!

SALA Architect Katie Leaf SALA Architect Katie Leaf SALA Architect Katie Leaf SALA Architect Katie Leaf