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Thread: do i really need an architect?

  1. #11
    Senior Member willingtocope's Avatar
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    ldl is a lamininated wood I-Beam. While they are certainly stronger than a regular stick of wood, they may not be suitable (or permitted by your local building code) to span that much distance.

  2. #12
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    My house with the land and medium finishes was about $151/sqft if you do not include the basement. I built a one story with a full basement (unfinished) on 4 acres. I live in Maryland, though, where property is more expensive than a lot of places, so my price may be on the high end. Let me know if I can provide any more info.

  3. #13
    Hey willingtocope, I am pretty sure US drafties would have to adhere and comply as strictly to the various US codes and regs as the ones we drafties out here in Australia have. Pro drafting outfits can specify beams and all structural stuff just as well as architects, both architects and draftspeople still need all structural stuff signed off by an engineer etc. Sure, there are some cowboy drafties out there, but the same goes for some architects.

    A draftsman can determine what is a load bearing wall just as well as an architect, a draftsman also has to comply to all the same regs as an architect. My old boss used to punt on house renovations to local drafting services, particularly when he either had a big job on or even people on a very tight budget. Most house renovations can easily be handled by a good drafting service at a third of the cost of an architect.

  4. #14
    Well I'm meeting with a designer next Tuesday. He's not an architect, but a custom home designer. Not exactly sure what his title is. But he can provide construction drawings and blueprints. I'm obviously interested to see what we can agree to on pricing. His website lists normal pricing at 1 to 1.20 per square foot, which is pretty cheap to begin with. I asked via email if we could negotiate a lower price if I bring him the floor plan I already like, we make some basic changes, and he provides the drawings. He said we definitely could. I'm hoping to get it done for around $2000. Ordering the plans online would cost $1250. Even though he's not an architect, I feel like it would be worth it to have exact plans in order to get multiple bids. I mean I like the builder I've been talking with... but I feel like if his draftsman makes the necessary changes then I pretty much have to use him. We've certainly discussed the general cost expected for construction, but I worry that I won't get his most competitive bid if I don't have exact plans to shop around. If I can do it for that small difference in price, I think it should be well worth it in the end.

  5. #15
    Senior Member willingtocope's Avatar
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    Location, location, location. Building codes, builder's practices, building inspectors...all depend on location. In the small town I just left in Iowa, they did not have either codes or inspectors. We looked at brand new homes in the $500,000 range that did not even have proper venting for the plumbing...toilets in all 4 bathrooms were simply vented into the walls.

    Before that, we lived in Ohio...which did require an Architects stamp on ALL construction drawings. Even so, one of the major builders in the area would show his customers a book of stock plans to choose from, get their choice approved by the local building department, and then proceed to build with substandard materials and practices. Because of his "superior" reputation, the inspectors would overlook the fact that he had drywall up before they were called to do a structural inspection. He was only stopped when one of his houses main floor collasped because his crew didn't put proper footings under the posts supporting the center beam of the house.

    We ran a drafting service. We had "drafties" with more design experience than the fresh out of college architect we had to hire to stamp their drawings...but, we also had experienced job supervisors that would spend all day/ every day on the job watching how the houses were being built.

    My point is...the house you have built for you is only as good as the people who design and build it for you. Trust...but verify.

  6. #16

    Under construction.

    [SIZE=12px]Do you need an architect? That has a two prong answer of yes and no. With a 3575 square feet home I would look online at a web site that gives you an AutoCAD dwg file or a dxf file so you can have it modified.

    I just completed building a new accessible home of approximately 2500 square feet and I did 90% of the drawing in AutoCAD while the architect did the rest. I followed ADAAG for the accessibility of the home. Not only is it accessible and universally designed but gurney proofed just in case of a medical emergency. All doors open outward not inward.

    You have to ask the building department in your municipality what they require. I move into a small community of 8300 population and the building codes were strict which is good common sense. The building department wanted a copy of the preliminary prints to review and approve before ground was broken. Two things they required were prints certified by a licensed architect and roof loads which the architect did for me.

    Inspections by the city inspection were done on a timely manner. Once the foundation was completed construction was stopped until the foundation was inspected and the builder’s prints were signed by the inspector. The construction continued. The city required drains to have a drip to them to prevent gas from coming up and that was inspected. The garage had to have fireproof drywall with a self-closing door to all doors to the garage. The electrical had special trip circuit breakers which if a motor was causing too much sparking it would trip. All GFIs were inspected, tested and labeled.

    I have windows that go 2"” above ground level to give that openness which had to be tempered proofed. All other windows are casement that cranks open.

    The kitchen sink area was the most difficult to design. We used a Kohler K-3165 three bowl under counter top sink; left and right 7-1/2"” deep and center 5-1/2"” deep with the top of the granite counter top at 34"” by code and 27" to get under. Figure that one out! See attached picture. Sink top is at 34"”, regular counter top and island top at 36"” and ‘chair island top at 30"”.

    Upon final inspection my home failed at one garage door needed to be fire proofed and the foam insulation on the inside of the crawl space had to be also fire proofed. The door to the garage had a regular window in it and was replaced with a fire proofed panel. The foam insulation was fire proof and a letter from the manufacturer confirmed that. The inspector then gave us a residency permit to live in the dwelling.

    One item was required was a ramp from the garage floor up 4”" to house level floor. To get around this ordinance/code get a letter from your doctor stating a ramp would cause excessive wear on your shoulder joints over time. I learned this after the fact.

    We were given an allowance of $3.50 per square foot allowance for flooring material of either carpet or tile. We found granite at $3.50 per square feet and got that installed; 18" x 18". I wanted to go with Corian counter tops but it was at $80 per square feet! I found black granite for $49 per square feet. It looks absolutely fabulous! I purchased all stainless steel kitchen appliances during Black Friday at Lowe’'s where they were on sale plus the manufacture gave a discount for certain models purchased together or you purchased so many at one time. Every penny counts when you have a certain amount to spend for the flooring, appliances and lighting. All rooms have ceiling fans with lights.

    One error my architect made was with the furnace and hot water tank. His drafter just dropped a “block” into the drawing but when it came time to install the units they did n’ot fit. We had to make the closet next to them smaller to properly fit both furnace and hot water tank.

    If you are building a new home, once the toilets are installed cover them with duct tape. The same as the drains and most importantly the stationary tub drain hole. Wash everything outside. Use bathrooms at the shop or at a restaurant. Not being rude here.

    Ti
    [/SIZE]

  7. #17
    Lots of great information there...thank you very much!

    Thanks for the great tip on getting a doctor's letter. I definitely want a no threshold entrance from the garage and have heard that you can get code exceptions for disability. If it becomes difficult, I'll remember your tip on getting a doctor's note.

    I think that I'm going to buy appliances on my own and leave them out of any bids. I also plan on going to Lowe's or Home Depot to buy them. I already have a Lowe's credit card and they have 12 to 24 months no interest offers all of the time. I'd rather do that than include them in my mortgage and pay for them over 30 years.


  8. #18
    "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." - Red Adair

  9. #19
    I met with a residential designer this past week. For what I'm wanting to do, he said he would charge 0.80 per square foot. I'm looking at about 3600 square feet, so that'd be $2880. But, he's not an architect or engineer, so he would have to get one of them to stamp the plan for construction, which might add another $500 or so on. Overall, I think it's a pretty fair price and will certainly consider him. I'm actually looking at a slightly different plan now that will require fewer changes. http://stephenfullerhouseplans.com/p...2.php?pid=5760. Again, I would like to have it open from the kitchen/breakfast area into the great room. And I'll make the rear stairwell an elevator shaft. Other than that, just changing the exterior from stucco to brick, and probably adding French doors into the living room. I'll be changing the configuration of things in the bathroom, but not messing with the dimensions of the room. I think I'd feel pretty good about having a structural engineer make those changes and save over a thousand bucks.

  10. #20
    I met with a residential designer this past week. For what I'm wanting to do, he said he would charge 0.80 per square foot. I'm looking at about 3600 square feet, so that'd be $2880. But, he's not an architect or engineer, so he would have to get one of them to stamp the plan for construction, which might add another $500 or so on. Overall, I think it's a pretty fair price and will certainly consider him. I'm actually looking at a slightly different plan now that will require fewer changes. http://stephenfullerhouseplans.com/p...2.php?pid=5760. Again, I would like to have it open from the kitchen/breakfast area into the great room. And I'll make the rear stairwell an elevator shaft. Other than that, just changing the exterior from stucco to brick, and probably adding French doors into the living room. I'll be changing the configuration of things in the bathroom, but not messing with the dimensions of the room. I think I'd feel pretty good about having a structural engineer make those changes and save over a thousand bucks.

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