Many houses are designed and constructed without the assistance of an architect, and given the availability of "pre-drawn" plans, you may wonder whether you really need an architect to design your home.

If you are not necessarily looking for a unique home that is designed to meet your specific needs, and your property has no unusual topographical constraints, then pre-drawn plans may suit your project, assuming that they comply with all local regulations. In this case, it is extremely important that you select a proven builder who merits your complete trust and confidence.

If you are adding to an existing home, building a unique home to suit your specific needs, or building on an urban lot or within a historic district, which are likely subject to more stringent regulations, then hiring an architect can benefit you in many ways.

1. Good design is a good investment. Whether a new house or an addition, a design that addresses all aspects of your home, from the initial site analysis to overall aesthetics to quality of materials, will enhance curb appeal, sustainability, building performance, and resale value.

2. Hiring an architect can save you money. It's true that architects' fees are an additional project cost, but throughout the design process, I provide guidance to help you make economically sound decisions. I provide preliminary construction cost estimates during each phase of the project, and can offer alternative solutions to help you stay on budget.

3. Competitive bidding can save you money. Comprehensive drawings and specifications allow you to get competitive bids from contractors. These bids will be based on a clearly defined scope of work to ensure an "apples to apples" pricing comparison among any builders that you choose.

I can also refer you to reputable contactors with proven track records, ensuring that each bidder has the capability and skills necessary for the size and scope of your project.

4. Oversight protects your interests. Beyond design and construction drawings, I can assist you with analyzing bids, interviewing and selecting a contractor, and monitoring the quality and progress of construction. Industry professionals often say that a house built to code-prescribed minimum standards is a "D-minus" house. During the construction process, I will help ensure that the quality of materials and workmanship adheres to my specifications - well beyond minimum standards.

Working with an experienced, professional, registered architect can save you money, stress, and heartache. You will be sure that your personal needs and objectives, as well as the constraints and benefits of your building site, have been thoroughly considered and thoughtfully integrated into the design of your new home, addition, or renovation.