A common question from clients is “Do I need an architect for a home remodeling project?” It is a fair one to pose, but our answer is usually “maybe or maybe not.” That is not trying to evade the question it is just that there are many variables that need to be considered before determining if an architect’s involvement is required and to what extent.
If you live on the Missouri side of the Greater St. Louis region the answer to the question is yes, an architect needs to at least sign off on a remodeling project if it involves making structural changes to the house such as moving a wall or adding a room. Most the area’s municipalities require it.
Few municipalities on the Illinois side of the river have the same requirement, but that is something a reputable contractor will investigate before proceeding with a remodeling project. In fact, the contractor should also be familiar with the permitting requirement of each municipality and be prepared to process them before work begins.
As a design-build remodeling contractor, much of the services we provide parallel that of an architect. An architect is training in designing and building aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound buildings. We do the same with a team of in-house interior designers, seasoned craftsmen and more than 20 years of experience in remodeling kitchens, bathrooms, basement and additions.
Architects don’t come cheap either. An hourly rate can range from $85-$150. A flat few can add between 5 percent to as much as 20 percent depending on the scope of work.
Depending on the job, we would advise you as to the level of involvement if any would be required from an architect. If it is simply a matter of receiving the blessing of an architect to meet municipal requirements, the additional cost to the project will be minimal and is something that can be built into our design and planning fee. If it is determined that complexity of the job warrants the expertise of an architect at a higher level, those costs will be included in the original estimate.
It has been our experience that the latter scenario occurs in a small percent of the typical home remodeling project in the St. Louis region. Most remodeling projects are simply surface changes such as installing new cabinets, counters, flooring, lighting, etc and require no architect or engineer.
We will see in some older homes, that were designed with defined rooms and not the open flow concept that is popular these days, the need to remove a wall. If it is not load bearing then the need for an architect or structural engineer is unnecessary. If it is load bearing, an assessment will be made as to the most efficient and safety way to proceed, be it getting the involvement of an architect at a higher level or not.
As a homeowner, it is good to have knowledge of the need for an architect or not while interviewing potential remodeling contractors. Again, they should know local ordinances. If you sense they don’t you should walk away.
Being educated on the right questions to ask about a variety of different issues involving remodeling empowers you to make the best decision for you.