Decreasing residential construction risk with good house design is about how soon-to-be house owners can lower or eliminate many of the risks of residential construction by engaging a real Architect to design their project.
Have you ever taken a risk by selecting a cheap option, then later wished you hadn’t done that, when problems develop? HOME ARCHITECTS = the no risk option.
Let’s consider a guy named Bob and his decision-making process. He considers himself to be a thrifty person. Someone who likes saving a buck. Hey, who doesn’t? There Bob is, at the local automotive dealer, making choices for his family’s next vehicle. He’s decided to get a mini-van this time, as many people with growing families these days do. However, Bob has decided to save about $10,000 by Not taking the options for posi-traction (a locking rear differential) and 4-wheel drive. And Bob decided he doesn’t need leather; he’s going with the fabric seats. Hey: he’s saving around $13,000. Bob’s a savvy buyer, isn’t he?
Fast forward to winter and the first blizzard of the year. Wait for it…let’s see: 12″ of snow and ice, which is turning the roads in Hickory Hollow (Bob’s neighborhood) into a dangerous mess of mud and snow drifts. Bob fires up his new van and heads out to pick up his kids from their after-school girl scout and cub scout meetings at the school cafeteria meeting rooms. On the way down the hill to the main highway, Bob presses the brakes, but his van continues sliding straight, on a glaze of ice, off the road and into a ditch. Fortunately the ditch is rather shallow. Bob looks on his dashboard for his locking rear differential button. Damn. Bob didn’t pay for that option, did he? He next looks for the 4-wheel drive button. Double damn! He didn’t pay for that option either! Those were easy decisions, when it was summer and the last thing Bob was thinking about was snow.
Bob opens the door to his van and steps out. Zip! The first thing that happens: his feet slide out from under him and Slap! Bob lands in an icy mass of mud in the drainage ditch there. Jeez! Bob has got to get his kids! He decides perhaps he needs to get back into the van and try to rock the vehicle back and forth, to hopefully get some traction. Bob hops back inside. Slosh. Looking down at his seat, he realizes that he has just slopped all that mud from his backside onto his seats. Well, he can just wash off the leather…Triple damn! Bob didn’t pay for the leather! He only has fabric. That means his seats will never look clean again. And his kids are still out there, waiting…
Get it? When we are penny-wise, we can simultaneously be pound foolish. In other words, while we may think of ourselves as “savers” and “thrifty,” we actually are being poor planners for our future selves and for the well-being of our family. Our over-thriftiness early in a house project could well result in impossible and damaging situations later that can cause us and our families real harm and result in tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted money on a house, that will need to be corrected.
What does this have to do with Residential Construction?
When Contractors build without detailed documents several things happen:
1. Mistakes are made.
2. Unpleasant things occur, requiring influx of brainpower and cash to resolve.
3. Materials that you “thought” would “of course” be included in the project are, to your horror, Not included and cheap materials are being installed that will rot, leak, fall down and look terrible.
4. Cheap HVAC (Heating, Ventilating & Air-Conditioning) systems are used that may not adequately heat or cool your new home, and materials are being used in a way that could aggravate COPD (and even cause Legionnaire’s Disease).
5. Lower amounts of insulation are being used and in a way that allows outdoor air to breeze into your walls, ceiling and floors, increasing your monthly power bills and making your family uncomfortable.
6. Your outdoor decks are being built improperly, which means that it is likely that they could fail and fall in the future, just when you have a large party on them, injuring and possibly killing your family and guests. Google “deck fails” to see for yourself.
7. And, the Contractor is going to demand Change Orders for all of those things you thought you were going to get in your house. Why? Because all those preferences were not listed in the Construction Documents. Why? Because you didn’t want to pay for a real Architect to design your next house. You had someone who didn’t even have an architectural degree or license to practice. Just someone who “draws plans.” Hey: they aren’t worried. Why? Because they don’t have to do anything! No laws govern what they do. They may not even have a high school education.
So: being penny-wise and pound foolish with obtaining cheap design services will probably not serve you well. You get what you pay for (and Don’t get what you don’t pay for). Better to get a real Architect to design your project. Someone with a Masters Degree in Architectural Design from a major accredited university (that you have heard of), decades of specialized experience in your project type (custom houses), and a license to practice architecture. And it’s more than just pieces of paper: a real, Licensed Architect is required by law to protect the Health, Safety and Welfare of the public. Those whom do not have such a license have no such legal duty. And real Architects are trained in college & graduate school (often for longer than Attorneys, Doctors, Engineers or CPAs) then must earn a professional degree, then must work diligently under the strict documented apprenticeship of other licensed Architects to properly practice architecture (often for 10 years), then pass a very difficult and several day’s long complex test to then earn a professional license (with the considered recommendations of multiple other licensed Architects whom have seen evidence of their abilities and who vouch for them, in writing), along with yearly CEU (Continuing Education Units) to stay current. People who are not licensed have no such obligations (and probably nowhere near the experience or training of a real Architect). Let’s put it this way: life is hectic. If you don’t have to do something, are you going to do it? And those who have documentation (a license) proving they’ve earned the right to practice are more qualified. It’s documented: College. Graduate School. Degree. Apprenticeship. Experience. Test. License. Experience. CEUs. And more Experience.
Consider your medical care. Would you let some guy with a tool box perform your next heart surgery? No. Ridiculous. Same thing with your house. Only your house is going to cost you $400,000 to a million or over! Probably the biggest single investment of your life! And a house is among the most complex project types an Architect can undertake (see Project Complexity). Better get a specialist. A professional who spends their entire lives preparing to design houses like yours: a real Licensed Architect.