When in doubt, ask.
Architect or Engineer - is there a difference?
Yes! Only licensed Registered Architects (RA) can legally design buildings and the spaces between buildings. Per Florida State Statutes 471 and 481, Professional Engineers (PE) may only design the components or the systems within a building and only within their area of knowledge and training. Educationally, Architects have training in all types of engineering; whereas, engineers have virtually no training in architecture. Unfortunately, many engineers practice unlicensed architecture in order to help secure work. Before employing the services of any firm, ask to see their State of Florida Architect's License.
What is Design-Bid-Build?
Design-Bid-Build is the traditional process where the Architect works directly for the client or owner and the construction drawings are submitted to general contractors for competitive bidding and to the building department for a building permit. Architects may employ and coordinate the services of other design professionals, such as professional engineers.
What is Design-Build?
The Architect's primary responsibility is to protect the life safety of the general public followed by protecting the interests of you, the client. The Architect represents the owner when dealing with the General Contractor. General Contractors generally do not like this arrangement, so they often employ the Architect under the guise of "design-build" whereby they control both the design and the construction methods. As one can imagine, this creates a conflict of interest for the architect. Will the architect be protecting you, the owner/client or the person paying his salary? Thus, beware of general contractors offering design-build services - and ask who is their in-house licensed architect.
What are the Phases of Design?
Most Architects approach design challenges in stages or phases. See the tab "Phases" for a detailed description of each phase and the various outside services an architect may use.
What Does it Cost to Hire an Architect?
Every project is different and may or may not involve other specialists; however, a good rule of thumb is an an Architect will charge between 4% to 8% of the construction costs. So if your project is $1,000,000; expect architectural fees to be between $40,000 to $80,000. Architectural fees generally include the structural, mechanical and electrical engineer's fees; but usually not the surveying, site (civil) engineer's fees or other specialist, if any. Obviously, small or complicated projects will warrant a higher fee and likewise, large or simple project will reduce the percentage to as low as 2%. Studies have shown, Architects usually save the clients in construction costs what they charge them in fees.
Do I Need a General Contractor?
Yes, General Contractors are required for all non-residential construction; and more importantly, a good general contractor will more than pay for themselves in construction cost savings. With an Architect, you may be spending a few thousand dollars; however, a General Contractor will be controlling ten's if not hundred's of thousands of your dollars - so choose your General Contractor wisely. The Architect can help you with that selection and with the contract you should be using in working with the General Contractor.
Do I Need an Architect for a House Design?
Technically "No"; however, if it is a coastal home (such as in Brevard County), the plans will need either an Architect or a structural engineer to supply a wind load design. There are "residential designers" who only do home designs and often work with an architect or engineer for the wind design component. While more affordable, residential designers do not have the same training as architects, nor are required to be licensed by the State of Florida. They are primarily a drafting service.