One of our architects recently emailed this to me:
“I lost a commission on a NEW BUILD to a guy who charged a grand!!! Now I made most of my fee back, fixing it, but you wouldn’t believe how often that is the case.”
The key here is that the owner in this story still paid “most” of the original architect’s proposed fee. For the same cost the owner had to endure a painful experience of starting with a defective plan, then figuring out how to fix it during construction.
Every architect has this story. Very few owners understand it.
The lesson is that a great designer or architect will create a better design, your project will be a much more enjoyable experience, and the time that the architect spends working on your project creates efficiencies that save you money. Basically, you can’t avoid the work so you might as well hire a professional who knows what he or she is doing!
Eight years ago, I founded New Avenue and at the time I was guilty of misunderstanding the design process. I had no idea what an architect really did. I fell for the prefab myth that scale and efficiency would save you money. It turns out shipping costs and cranes eliminate any cost benefits of prefab building. Worse than the lack of savings is that you get stuck with the existing design. That is never as good as a truly custom design for the specific site where you are building.
The key is finding a good architect who follows a good process and stays involved start to finish.
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