Cost of Design vrs Cost of Construction is about a leading residential Architect explaining how good design can save money and direct it to be most cost effective.
HOME ARCHITECTS ® say that good design and good CDs (Construction Documents) can focus the usage of your construction dollars with laser-like accuracy: to be spent where your house needs it the most, to result in you having a house that is more durable, functional, energy efficient, healthy, enjoyable and beautiful. Not to mention: in tune with your land.
The cost of a “nice” house these days can be anywhere from $150/HSF (Heated Square Foot) to $200/HSF to $250/HSF to $300/HSF and on up. Much depends on what you want and what your builder prices. If you are trying to get a builder to construct your dream house by waving your arms around, that’s not going to work. You need a design with CDs (Construction Documents). The CDs is what your Contractor takes to the local building department to obtain the Building Permit. The Building Official demands that your Builder provide a set of CDs meeting certain requirements, which may include:
Site Plan (based on a Survey)
Possible County Code Requirements Summary (if project size exceeds a certain size)
Wall Section(s) including energy values (R) for floor, walls, roof
and other documents that can be provided by other consultants, like energy forms and structural framing and foundation plans.
Also: it is wise to have Electrical Plans, Cabinetry Elevations and other design work.
Also, your Builder will need to provide engineered shop drawings for any prefabricated items like trusses and LVLs (Laminated Veneer Lumber members).
So: if you’re thinking that a few scribbles on the back of an envelope, or even “predone plans” from the Internet are going to be all you need; that probably isn’t going to be the case. There should be a design that takes into account, the topography of your land, the views (if you’d like to see the mountains, river, lake or trees that compelled you to buy it in the first place), your lifestyle, legally required building setbacks, privacy issues from surrounding streets and homes and other factors. You aren’t going to find any Internet “plans” that totally do all those things for you, and they won’t do them well.
You need a custom designed house if you want to insure that you have a quality design that is responsive to your desired Lifestyle, reacts to your property in a logical manner (like where the garage is located, etc.), and that will be durable, energy efficient and healthy. What do we mean “healthy?” Well, believe it or not, there are a host of building materials that off-gas deadly vapors into a house that can damage your health and your loved ones. How to avoid those? (see below)
Hire a Licensed Architect, preferably one that is a member of ArCH (Architects Creating Homes), the only nationwide professional society that is exclusively composed of Licensed Architects who primarily design houses. That organization has constantly developing educational programs and certification procedures that help their members to be better informed in the design of residential projects. For instance: a knowledgeable residential Architect knows that certain materials contain more formaldehyde than others, and so they specify the products without that or with less of any potentially harmful ingredient. Why? So that their house designs will result in a healthier place in which you and family can live, worry-free. Especially if you or a child or aging live-in elderly family member has COPD/ asthma and the like. Never thought that your very house could be affecting your family’s lungs? Think again.
According to Wikipedia, various state governments, Canada, USA universities, historic data from the AIA and other notable organizations, a commercial project’s architectural design services might be between 4% to 12% of the cost of construction, and a quality residential design might end up costing between 12% to %17 of the cost of new house construction, with residential renovations being between 15% to 20%. However, the amount and type of services can vary widely and those numbers may include services like B/N (Bidding/Negotiating) and CA (Construction Administration). Basic Services (which do not include those services) might range between 4% to 8% to 10% for many projects, with other possible optional services adding more. However, these are professional services. They are often priced by the hour, like an Attorney, Accountant, Engineer, or Computer Programmer, not as a lumpsum.
The complexity of the house, size, amount of changes you make in the developing design, your location, topography and other factors can and will modify any rules of thumb. Every project is unique. And: you are hiring a highly skilled, university-degreed professional with decades of experience. It’s not like you’re buying a loaf of bread from the store. Cheap white bread with next to no nutritional value, or the 21-grain kind that tastes better and that is healthier for you?
The better bread has a higher initial cost, but the healthier affect on your body and your enjoyment of the more flavorful bread makes you happier for the long run. Only you can decide if you and your family are worth a higher quality design. And the highest quality design will be from a Licensed Architect that is experienced in the design of houses.
Now then: if you look at this previous online article: Value of a Residential Architect, you will see that having a quality architectural design for your house can end up saving you MORE THAN THE ORIGINAL COST OF CONSTRUCTION. How can this be? Well, if you look at that article, you will see upward trends in the cost of energy, computed over 1/2 centuries, and the relative savings (in energy alone) that a good architectural design can provide you with for your house. You will see that your investment in a good residential Architect to design your custom house could result in significant savings over the years in reduced energy costs that can result in a total savings equal to or exceeding the house’s original construction cost. How about that? Is it starting to make sense to have an Architect design your next house? People that engage Architects to design something for them are usually far-sighted individuals that can see down the road, forecasting the future. And an architectural design usually equates to increase durability, energy efficiency and enjoyment, than non-Architect designs.
Get the best quality and best value for you and your family for the long-term. Have an Architect design your next house.
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