In addition to ArCH member advantages, some members of the ArCH ExComm (Executive Committee) have asked the very important question: so what are the advantages to ArCH member Clients? Why would someone from the general public want to hire an ArCH Architect? That is an excellent question. And here are some answers (below):
ADVANTAGES OF USING AN ArCH ARCHITECT
For Clients who need a residential Architect: Clients should demand an ArCH Architect, because:
1. RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE KNOWLEDGE
ArCH members are focused on Residential Architecture: That’s what they do for a living. ArCH Architects tend to know more about both design and technological issues related to residential architecture, due to this focus, and due to the fact that ArCH has the only Certified Residential Architect SM focus team system (CRAfts) program in the world. It educates, trains and certifies this specialized residential design and technological knowledge in Architects who have the “best practices” understandings in housing architecture today.
Clients can look for “ArCH” and “CRAfts” after ArCH member names. No other professional organization has this program. ArCH was created by experienced residential Licensed Architects for Architects.
2. VALUE & PAYBACK
ArCH member Architects can specify and detail better energy conservation into their Client projects, resulting in saving MORE than the entire initial construction cost of the home over the lifetime of the house. Of course, this means that any ArCH member Architect’s fees would be totally paid back in Life Cycle Cost Analysis due to just the energy cost savings alone. That translates into a tremendous VALUE that ArCH member Architects offer their Clients.
3. INCREASED DURABILITY & LOWER MAINTENANCE
ArCH Architects design in more durable materials, details and specify superior materials and methods that increase the lifespan of Client project roofs, walls, structure and other elements to result in a house that needs less maintenance than normal and that lasts longer with fewer problems.
4. BETTER PROJECT COST CONTROL
ArCH- trained Architects utilize a method of constructing their Construction Documents and Bid Forms that has a Base Bid Package and also Owner Optional Upgrade Packages. This allows the Owner to decide which upgrades they would like to pay for and add to the Basic Project, and to know, in advance, what those upgrades will cost, based on General Contractor pricing on Bid day.
Note: this is fairly new page on the ArCH website: we will be adding to it over the coming months and years. The above list is expected to become quite long. However, this is an excellent start. Where else can you obtain such qualities? Insist on the best residential Architect you can find: an ArCH member Architect for your next house project.
5. IMPROVED QUALITY OF DESIGN, QUALITY DOCUMENTATION = IMPROVED QUALITY OF CONSTRUCTION
ArCH Architects often use the premier residential specification system in the world: ArCHspec. If provides for ongoing CD (Construction Document) quality control, built-in. And ArCH Architects are some of the most capable residential design Architects on the planet: many of them have been doing it for decades. Some ArCH members are both Licensed Architects and Licensed Contractors. Some are also Licensed Home Inspectors as well as being a Licensed Architect. ALL of them are Licensed Architects. Come organizations allow some members to join them at reduced levels, which they call “Associate” members. ArCH believes that this can lead the public into thinking that those so-called “associate” people are licensed, when they are not. ArCH ONLY has fully Licensed Architects. And that;s a quality standard not many other organizations can claim. ArCH is the only residential design organization that meets this demanding requirement. Why? Because a house is one of the most complex pieces of architecture that can be created. It deserves the attention of a real Architect. The idea is that a better design with better documents helps your Contractor to build a better house. Of course. Not having such documentation can allow the builder to take liberties. This is your house, where your spouse, you and your children live and grow. You want it to be the best it can be, and be built with healthier materials, be able to resist storms and other environmental forces and be a source of high functionality and enjoyment.
6. BETTER FORMS OF AGREEMENT & OTHER PROCEDURAL TOOLS
ArCH has the ArCHstore, where ArCHmembers buy forms of agreement and other tools tailor-made for use with custom residential projects. Other organization’s overly long and complex forms created for large commercial project just don’t work as well. ArCH’s forms safeguard their Clients and protects the interests of all project parties so that everyone understands what they are responsible for and what they need to do and when. Clarity, brevity and simple language. Forms created to manage home projects.
7. IF YOU GO THROUGH A BUILDER FOR DESIGN, YOU CAN BE HELD HOSTAGE
Believe it or not, this is a true representation of a situation that is occurring, right now, in various locations in the USA, brought to ArCH’s attention by some of their members who have to deal with this on a daily basis. These ArCHmember Architects are in regions where, unfortunately, many consumers (homeowners) go to a residential builder (rather than an Architect) to obtain both their design and construction. BIG MISTAKE, as you’ll see soon…
What can and does happen: consumers at first are delighted when the builder tells them that they will provide their design at little to no cost. However, the reality is that there is a charge; it is just concealed into other areas of the project, usually during construction and often within the first big payment to the Builder. Never mind, let’s continue with what else is happening…
The Builder’s efforts at design are usually not as a effective as an Architect’s efforts will be. The Builder may not investigate the Lifestyle or the Land; they can simply grab an old roll of prints off a dusty shelf and throw that on their desk and say: “Here: how about this?” Then the hapless homeowners (let’s call them Doug & Wendy) stare at what the Builder has previously done for someone else and is the same house that he/she builds for most of their customers. And he mentions a lowball price to build it.
Strike 1. LACK OF DESIGN CREATIVITY TO SUIT YOUR LIFESTYLE & LAND.
Okay, so Doug & Wendy manage to jam their dreams into the container offered by the Builder and now the Builder says he will price it out. Time goes by.
One day, the Builder calls Doug & Wendy back to his office. They appear, wondering what this meeting is about. The Builder, grim-faced, says: “Looks like prices have gone up. That price I estimated has got to be increased. ”
Doug & Wendy look surprised, thinking they were buying their house like they would a loaf of bread in a store, where there is the price on the label and they buy it and enjoy it. Not so with a house..”How much more?” they ask.
The Builder turns down the corners of his mouth and breathes deeply, then says: “Looks like due to lumber escalation, taxes, HVAC equipment, cost of fuel, my labor, and in general, upward prices, we’re going to have to charge you another $250,000.” The Builder leans back and looks straight into the eyes of his customers.
Doug & Wendy lurch to their feet. Doug’s face gets red. He points at the Builder and says: “This is highway robbery! We’re going to take our design somewhere else and get a competitive bid!”
The Builder rolls up the dusty print set on his paper-strewn desk, snaps a rubber-band around it, then tosses it onto his credenza, behind him, out of reach of Doug & Wendy. The Builder hisses: “I don’t think so…”
Doug makes a move to go around the Builder, to be able to grab what he thinks are “his plans.” The Builder stands up, between Doug and the rolled-up set of drawings.
Doug stops and Wendy looks frightened by the tension in the air.
Doug says: “What is this? Give us our drawings!”
The Builder says: “Those aren’t your drawings. They’re mine. And if you don’t have my company build your house, you don’t get to use them.”
Strike 2. BUILDER PROVIDED DESIGNS AREN’T YOURS: YOU CAN’T TAKE THEM SOMEWHERE ELSE FOR COMPETITIVE PRICING
Red-faced and nearly apoplectic, Doug backs away from the Builder and retreats to his wife. Now, they’re starting to understand the disadvantages of having design provided through a Builder: no price-shopping possible. And you can be held hostage to whatever price increases that Builder may wish to charge…if you want to use his company’s old prints.
Doug & Wendy storm out of the Builder’s office, stiffly walk to their car and burn rubber leaving the parking lot.
Doug & Wendy scour the Internet, vainly searching for what they really wanted, not what that Builder was promoting. After 6 months, Wendy gives up. “There’s nothing for free from the Internet that suits our Lifestyle, functional needs or our Land. What are we going to do? And bank loan rates are starting to go up.”
Doug thinks about their situation. “Well, we could buy a cheap set of plans online from some plans library…”
Wendy says: “Yes, but those designs aren’t very attractive, and none of them suits how we want to live, the arrangement of rooms, and they don’t have the large kitchen I want, the extra office for you, the 4 car garage we want and the tall and wide glass areas we want off the back, facing the great view we have toward the mountains.”
Strike 3. CHEAP INTERNET PLANS DON’T INCORPORATE YOUR CUSTOM NEEDS, OR YOUR LAND, ARE LACKING IMPORTANT DETAIL, LACK SPECIFICATION DATA AND MAY NOT BE APPROVED BY LOCAL BUILDING DEPARTMENTS.
Doug & Wendy join hands and look into each others’ eyes. “What are we going to do?” Wendy asks no one in particular, more a plea to the Universe.
Doug suddenly stands up. “What?” asks Wendy.
“I remember seeing a sign on a new house construction site on my way home…”
“Yeah, so? Was it for the Plumber or something?” asks Wendy.
“No,” says Doug, “It was for the Architect.”
“Architect?” asks Wendy, “We can’t afford an Architect!”
“Well, we certainly can’t afford to have a Builder horse us around, jacking up prices with impunity,” says Doug, grabbing his car keys. Wendy and Doug dash to their car and drive to the new house construction site.
There, at the new house project site, Doug & Wendy exit their car. They approach the Architect’s site sign. Doug pulls a pen and scrap of paper from his pocket and writes down the Architect’s email address, website URL and phone number.
“Can I help you?” comes a voice behind them.
Doug & Wendy whirl around to see a middle-aged man in bluejeans, wearing a tan sport coat over a light blue workshirt, no tie. “I’m Zeke Fortnow, the Architect. I saw you standing here in front of my site sign, taking note of my information,” he says with a smile, “Is there anything I can do for you?”
Wendy speaks up first: “Well, we don’t think we can afford an Architect but we just had this horrible experience with a Builder who we were getting our design through, and so…”
Zeke smiles broadly. “I hear that all the time. Did you know that, depending on the state, regional location and other circumstances, that many people in the United States can afford to have an Architect design their custom homes for about what they might pay for sales tax?”
Doug looks eager. “Really? I had no idea! What a bargain!”
Zeke says: “Well, that does vary, because in some states there is no sales tax.”
Doug says: “Gotcha. Hey: can we talk with you about what we’d like to do for a new house?”
Zeke says: “Sure, tell me all about what you want. That’s usually where an Architect starts, by listening …”
Doug asks: “But what about a good Builder?”
Zeke says: “I know several great licensed Contractors who build only and who would be happy to competitively bid any house I design for my Clients. I respect what they do and I don’t try to build. They respect what I do and they don’t try to design. That’s the best arrangement for the customer, because they get the best professionals doing their best work for them.”
Doug & Wendy smile, greatly relieved that they are now in the hands of a licensed professional Architect who has their best interests at heart. And: they’re going to get a custom design that suits their Lifestyle & Land perfectly, then they’ll be able to competitively bid it, in order to obtain the best construction price possible. They have realized that the cost of an Architect is a true value, and only pennies, compared to the big dollars involved with the construction costs. Being able to take their design and price shop the construction bids is a huge advantage.