How to Hire an Architect:


So, you have a building project in mind and you think you might need an architect, but you’re not sure. Even if you’ve put a lot of thought into it, it can still be a daunting and scary proposition, especially if you’ve never been through the planning and construction process before. It is challenging and there will be many things to consider and decisions to be made, but that’s what we’re here for.

In Illinois, any construction project except agricultural building or 1 & 2 family homes must be designed and stamped by a licensed design professional. We have a professional office with our licenses proudly displayed in the lobby.

Whether you have been through the process or not, the following three tips will save time and money for you.

1. BUDGET

Having a project budget in mind is essential to the success of your project. Moving forward with planning a building project without a budget will likely lead to delays and frustration. It is easier to make a project fit a budget, than to make a budget fit a project.

For example, if you want to build an apartment complex and you have $1M, it is easier to design a building to fit that number, say 5000 square feet at $200 per square foot, than to plan on a very large building, maybe 10,000 square feet, and then try to figure out how to build it for $100 per square foot. (Hint, it’s not possible) To be blunt, many projects have failed because people looking to build had bigger dreams than pocketbooks.

Note that I used $ per square foot ($/sf). This is a common way we do preliminary estimates. Most projects fall between $150/sf for simple buildings with low end materials, to $400/sf for medical facilities and science laboratories. These days you can’t build much of anything for under $100/sf, unless you’re looking at a nice horse barn.

There are many resources available on the web to get a good idea of current project costs. Just keep in mind there are many variables to consider. Do you want your building to be simple, or elaborate? Do you want brick, wood, metal or vinyl siding on the outside? Are you planning on vinyl flooring, concrete or terrazzo? These things can make the cost of your project vary widely.

Remember also, you have to also include the price of buying property, professional fees (That’s us), furnishings, non-fixed equipment, licenses, permits, taxes and other costs you may not have considered. Even fire extinguishers and janitorial supplies and equipment, for example.

So, how much does an architect cost? Typically design professionals get between 5%-10% of construction cost. For your $1m apartment building, that’s going to be $100k. This cost is in addition to your construction cost. Depending on your project size and complexity, there may be a need for additional services such as civil, structural, mechanical or electrical engineers.

Get your $ ducks in a row and things will move along much more smoothly.

2. SCHEDULE

Even with advanced computer equipment and applications, planning takes time. A rule of thumb is to divide your construction cost by 20,000 and you will have a rough estimate of the number of months necessary for the architectural process. Construction will likely be closer to dividing by 10,000. These are very rough guesses and can vary considerably based on your project’s location, size and complexity.

In Central Illinois the construction business does have a slow season for some types of construction work. Outdoor work such as dirt work, placing concrete or roofing is very difficult to do in very cold months and impossible for asphalt because the manufacturing plants are closed for the winter. Considering the seasons is necessary to keep your project on track.

Plan ahead, way ahead, of your intended completion date, and you will have less stress and fewer frustrations. (And so will we!)

3. CHAT WITH YOUR ARCHITECT

Give us a call, or drop by. (With proper masking and social distancing, of course) We can probably tell you in short order how we can help you. We’ll get to know each other, and get started down the path to a successful project for you. We’re here for you. We can answer your questions and address your concerns.

There you have it. Plan ahead, and we’ll help plan your future.

And, if you haven’t already, visit our website at www.utzarchitects.com

A final note: With design and construction there is a three-way balance of time, quality and cost. You can find a good balance of all three, but when you begin to prioritize one above the others, at least one of the others will suffer. You can have a quality building in a timely fashion at a reasonable cost. That’s the goal. Or, for example, you can have a low cost building, on a short schedule, but quality is likely to suffer. And no one wants that.

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