The role of an architect goes beyond designing buildings. As a highly trained, licensed professional, he or she offers critical services that benefit clients and also the general public. Architects provide many services, and this article details the various skills they possess and the services they provide.
- The initial consultation, the pre-design, and the schematic design.
When a client meets with an architect, the two of them define the purpose and basic requirements for a building, which is called the program. In addition, an architect may also conduct historical research on the building site or existing building as part of a pre-design process. Generally, concepts are presented to clients for their feedback, which is then incorporated into a schematic design, which is a representation of how the building will be organized and what it will look like. Using this process, the requirements for the building are well understood before construction documents are prepared. An architect assists the client in making the most informed decision possible during this highly interactive phase. A good architect can also assist the client in identifying opportunities, cost savings, and additional value in the project that they may not be aware of themselves.
- Development of the design.
Following the client’s selection of a scheme, the sketch is developed into a set of working plans and elevations. This type of drawing gives an idea of what the final building will look like and what it will cost. Architects use design development drawings to help the client and contractor envision what the building will look like before the final contract documents are finalized. Before the contract documents are completed, the client can review these drawings so that they can make any necessary changes before construction begins, helping the client understand the size, quality, and cost of the project.
- The construction documents.
Building plans, elevations, and other drawings are refined so they can be used to produce the specifications for constructing the building. As part of the design process, the architect works with the client to select materials and finishes that are appropriate for the final product. Based on the complexity of the project or the requirements of the law, the architect may coordinate with other design consultants, such as structural, mechanical, and civil engineers. During bidding, the contractor is required to provide drawings and specifications, as well as other documents called contract documents, that define what he will build. Construction documents that are comprehensive, complete, and up to date reduce the likelihood of unforeseen problems and cost overruns.
- Bidding and contract negotiations.
Contractors submit bids to the architect on behalf of the owner/client. A contractor can also be selected by the architect after consulting with the client. Once the contract is signed, the project is defined. Architects assist clients in making apples-to-apples comparisons of bids so they obtain the best value and quality during construction.
- Administration of construction contracts.
A contractor or subcontractor’s compliance with drawings and specifications is the architect’s responsibility during construction. The practice of unsupervised contractors ignoring drawings or cutting corners to increase their profits is not uncommon. When acting as a construction contract administrator, an architect can act as an independent, unbiased observer and advocate for the client because their fee is predetermined. For more information on architectural services click here.