“Hiring an architect should save you time and money, minimize bumps, streamline the building process, and provide an accurate picture of how the project will turn out before a single nail has been driven” ~ Bob Vila
Does hiring an architect save you money? It is a question I have been working to document for years as my biggest competition for residential projects is an online plan purchase. I contend that the biggest problem we have with inefficient homes existing in our community are online plan purchases.
The majority of homes built each year are not – designed – in order to “save money.”
The save money idea is only an up-front cost decision. I can easily show that it does not save money in the long run – perhaps even on day one depending on the online plan. Energy-efficiency, water conservation, and durability are never included holistically when you cut out design. To be clear, a house that is drawn without a site, client, climate, orientation in mind is just drawn and not designed. No minor changes by the builder or drafter will convert an online plan to a custom home.
So back to the original question, does hiring an architect save you money? In a discussion yesterday with a builder that has worked with me on several houses and renovation projects, he noted, “the houses you draw always seem to come in less per square foot than other homes I have built.” We spent a few minutes thinking about why this would be true. Our roof lines are not as complicated and dimensions are rational – this reduces wasted product, speeds up construction by reducing lumber cuts, and optimizes processes. Our home designs have a project manual that guides the performance desired of systems and reduces unanswered questions prior to construction.
So does hiring an architect save you money? It seems from a narrow case study of a half dozen homes that this builder has constructed, it costs less per square foot to build a house we designed. I can also show that homes we design are more energy efficient for the systems to operate saving monthly on energy and water usage – up to 60% savings on one home that we tested over industry averages. So to really drive the point home – it costs less per square foot to build and costs less to operate – I think we have the question answered.