FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received. Please call if you still have questions.
Simply put, an architect is licensed by a State Occupational Licensing Board to do architecture in a particular state. To be licensed, you must have graduated from an accredited architectural program (usually a five or six-year program), then you complete an internship that takes many years of shadowing a licensed architect. Then when you have satisfied the internship requirements, you study like a mad person and sit for seven different exams (at least for the State of Idaho – places like California have their own licensing process that is even more complicated). This sometimes takes years to accomplish. These exams are unlike any college exam…I am happy to show my study notes and flash cards to anyone who might be curious, or are nay-sayers. If you pass these exams, you get to work as a licensed architect. A draftsman is anyone who desires to buy a drafting program and draw up house plans. No schooling or experience is required. A designer can be the same as a draftsman…as you might guess, anyone can be a designer. House plans generally don’t require a licensed architect, which is why you see designers and draftsmen often building a great business in this profession. However, most city and county building and planning departments, at the very minimum, require engineered drawings with a professional stamp on them. Commercial projects require both a licensed architect and engineer. My architectural license requires that I care for the Health, Safety and Welfare of the Public in my designs and drawings, and that I can navigate code books, and local jurisdictional requirements, understand site contours and grading etc. But I get to be a designer and draftsman too. The best of all worlds!
So often I am asked if I am a designer, or if I just draft other people’s designs? I think that a lot of folks think I draw roof and floor truss layouts, connection details and rain gutter sizes all day long. Truth is, I hardly do any of those things. Or people think I can only do math and engineering but cannot possibly know how to design too? An architect is supposed to have a general understanding of all those things I mentioned, and more. But my office concentrates on both the design and the production of all it takes to accomplish a a built project. From beginning to end. In that process, we hire consultants, as needed, to help us put all the necessary information together to get the job done. I have no desire to calculate the shear diagram of a welded filet weld, or the slenderness ration of a steel ‘I’ beam. Nor do I want to measure the compression and tension strength of the various soils below my project. I am thankful that I can rely on other professionals to help round out a truly full service to my clients when needed.
Achieving a desired budget is a group effort and should be addressed early and often throughout the beginning phases of the design and construction documentation. This is how it looks: A client has a budget, we try to design a project close to that budget, then we get a contractor on board early in the design process (if it is a residential project) so that the contractor can apply a much sharper pencil to the current design numbers and then compare with the budget numbers. An architect has a general idea of square footage costs due to experience and history, but a contractor knows the specific unit and labor costs. Along the way, clients are also making normal decisions that affect the budget one way or another. It is our job to try and get all the moving parts to the contractor as soon as possible so that, along with the client’s design wishes, we can make decisions that are in line with the budget. We should have clever ideas on how to make the design work within their finances. Doing this open book, constant communication, as a team involves back and forth communication with everyone until the numbers are acceptable and a design is approved. Commercial projects are more structured and that process is defined by the industry.
Occasionally someone asks me to help them come up with design ideas for a project without the chance to visit the potential build site first. That is almost like asking someone to design a new ski boot for a set of skis and bindings that you have – but that person doesn’t get to look at the bindings that the boot will connect to. Commercial or Residential projects both sit on a piece of land that has unique conditions to it that will define the project. Whether it is access to the site, existing utilities locations, existing water features, neighboring structures, or view corridors etc., these all effect the design and layout. The most optimal project solution takes into consideration the site and all of its existing conditions.
Please let us give the care and direction you desire to meet your architectural goals. In striving to meet your needs, our office is not limited by style or type, rather, we thrive in designing beautiful and creative design solutions in service to you and your builder.