Good Quality Architecture Adds Value to Your Home
Written February 20, 2009 by John Hendricks, Architect AIA • Filed Under Architecture
Building a new home or remodeling an existing one should be an exciting and rewarding process. In most cases, hiring an Architect to help you realize your vision will add value that far exceeds their costs, in addition to simplifying the design, approval and construction process.
An architect designed custom front entry.
It is well recognized in the Real Estate community that homes designed by Architects have a value up to 50% higher than similarly sized and located homes that come from builder/ designers, draftsmen, or catalog plans. This number is much higher when compared to production homes. Since Architect fees are typically anywhere from 5% -15% of construction costs (depending on the level of service provided), any value added to a project that exceeds this fee is a direct benefit to the homeowner. An important point to remember is that value is not necessarily measured only in dollars. Value is also realized though long term enjoyment of a home with improved functionality that is designed to meet your specific needs.
If you look closely in any city or town, usually the oldest (and often the nicest) homes are almost exclusively Architect designs. The perceived value of a well designed home makes it worthy of continued maintenance and preservation, and the careful thought Architects put into their home designs tends to greatly increase their longevity. While many Builders are conscientious and build homes to last, they often choose materials & methods that make building easier and less costly, especially when they are building homes speculatively. Architects typically design homes to maximize owner value through better aesthetics, quality, livability, and longevity while trying to minimize long term life cycle cost.
- An architect custom designed interior.
Most people can pick out a home that was designed by a good Architect, and a quick comparative study would confirm that well designed homes command significantly higher resale values. It is important to note that an Architect designed home doesn’t necessarily cost more to build. In addition, careful site consideration, curb appeal, efficient space planning, thoughtful construction details, energy efficiency, and creative, well informed material selections can add value that will far exceed that of a comparable builder grade home.
Aesthetic value is difficult to quantify, but most home buyers would agree that if they could afford it, they would pay more for the visual and spatial qualities an Architect can add. Homes designed by Architects also tend to be less susceptible to market fluctuations, which makes them a reliable real estate investment. Similar to other designer products, homes by well known and especially talented Architects have an “association value” that increases the price people are willing to pay for them.
An architect designed waterfront home
Depending on where you live, there may be city, county, and state regulatory agencies that govern any building project. The process of securing approval and permitting for construction projects can be daunting, and having an Architect who is familiar with the requirements can save you valuable time, money, and help streamline the process. It is not uncommon in areas with lax building regulation for homes to be built that don’t meet code requirements, that exceed setback limits, or that are occasionally even over property lines. Architects are required by law to design buildings that comply with all applicable building, zoning, and accessibility codes, giving you the assurance that your home meets the requirements of accepted life safety and land use standards.
An Architect can help you get the best value for your construction dollar. One of the most important decisions in the homebuilding process is locating and orienting the building on the site to optimize views, solar exposure, excavation costs, and aesthetic appeal. The long term energy savings realized by a well sited home with windows properly sized and located can be substantial. Architects stay current on the latest construction materials and technologies, and can select materials and systems that enhance your home without breaking the budget.
Quality custom home builders agree that an Architect’s careful planning, accurate drawings/ specifications and availability to answer questions while the home is being built speeds up construction time and helps avoid costly delays. This ultimately saves the homeowner money and assures they end up with a better final product. A well thought out home design can save the homeowner a lot of money by avoiding change orders, mistakes, and time wasted on the jobsite solving unforeseen conflicts. Value added during construction can also include less stress for the homeowners, more free time to devote to your family or career, and the assurance that crucial safety measures are being addressed.
Most Architects have a carefully selected group of builders they recommend, builders who have a proven record of quality work delivered on time at a fair price. An Architect can help you select a reputable builder who understands your goals and expectations. As an advocate for you, an Architect will assist you in negotiating with the builder during the contracting process, and ensure that you have a fair contract that protects your interests. While your home is being built the Architect can help you determine if proposed changes are fairly priced, review and approve contractor pay requests, make regular visits to the site to monitor progress, and make sure it is built according to the plans & specifications.
Though some clients choose to not involve the Architect during the construction phase to save money, they fail to realize the value of having an important advocate and advisor working for them to insure that the final product meets their expectations and is delivered at a fair price. Construction projects can be challenging, and while an Architect may not be able to eliminate all of the issues involved, they can streamline the process to minimize headaches and additional costs for the homeowner.
The design aesthetic is perhaps the most obvious area where an Architect adds value to your home. A good design always creates enduring value in excess of cost, and a bad design is often painfully obvious and will be regretted far longer than the savings are enjoyed. An Architect will help you create a visually appealing home with character and style that is designed specifically for you, not an imaginary generic buyer.
It is not difficult to understand how your appreciation of a well designed home will be equally valued by a discriminating buyer in the future. Ultimately, the resale value of your home is going to be increased when an Architect is utilized to add tasteful design, improved functionality, thoughtful detailing, and quality construction that will last for generations.
John Hendricks, AIA Architect, NCARB
Tom Russell, Project Manager, LEED AP
Hendricks Architecture, Architects in Sandpoint, Idaho
A Log Accent Mountain Home, one of many different types of Mountain Home Architecture.
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How the Stimulus Package Helps Construction
Written February 17, 2009 by John Hendricks, Architect AIA • Filed Under Contractors
, Energy Efficiency
While it is debatable how much the new stimulus package will help the U.S. economy in the short term, there are areas of the bill that will help the construction industry. The American Institute of Architects believes that the bill will create or save as many as 14,000 architect jobs over the next two years, according to AIA President Marvin Malecha.
A whopping $29 billion will be allocated to modernizing roads and bridges, which will help many contractors in those fields, in addition to $18 billion for clean water, flood control and environmental restorations. Also $5 billion will be used to upgrade Defense Department facilities, including housing for troops.
Energy efficiency is another huge part of the bill, with $20 billion allocated. Homeowners who add energy efficient windows, furnaces, heat pumps and air conditioners can get a tax credit to cover 30 percent of the costs, up to a total of $1,500. The credit can also be used by home owners to replace windows or upgrade their insulation. About $300 million will also be given out when buying efficient appliances. Another $5 billion dollars will help low-income home owners make energy improvements. This will greatly help many suppliers and contractors who are involved in these types of work, not to mention homeowner’s future energy bills.
There are also tax breaks for people wanting to install solar panels or wind turbines to power their homes.
About $8 billion will go towards the modernization and renovation of schools and colleges.
Environmental projects at the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency will be given $9.2 billion. This will include building energy efficient visitor centers at national parks and wildlife refuges.
Billions will go towards mass transit. Stations will need to be designed and built. I believe there also might be something in there in regards to building green affordable housing, which of course also benefits architects and contractors.
The National Council of Architectural Registration Board has also listed the following facilities to be built:
* General Services Administration (GSA), energy-efficiency upgrades for federal buildings: $4.5 billion
* Facilities on federal and tribal lands: $3 billion
* National Institutes of Health, facilities upgrades/construction: $1.5 billion
* National Science Foundation, research equipment and facilities upgrades/construction: $600 million
* Department of Homeland Security, new headquarters: $450 million
* National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, procurement, acquisition, and facilities construction: $430 million
* Department of Homeland Security, ports of entry: $420 million
* National Institute of Standards and Technology, facilities construction: $360 million
* Department of Agriculture, facilities: $330 million
* Border stations and ports of entry: $300 million
* U.S. Courthouses and other GSA buildings: $300 million
* Fire stations: $210 million
* State Department, Capital Investment Fund: $90 million
* Smithsonian facilities: $25 million
There are parts of the bill that could help individuals and their families, such as:
* A refundable tax credit of up to $400 per worker ($800 per couple filing jointly)
* An expansion of the child tax credit, from two to three children
* Extended unemployment benefits through December of 2009
How does the stimulus bill affect our business?
We specialize in luxury mountain homes, although we do just about everything from Tuscan style to beach house style, from small residential additions to large recreational buildings. Most of our clients historically have been in the private sector and in the higher income classes, and the stimulus package is not geared to specifically help the upper classes. However, while the energy efficient options are always specified by us, the tax credits and rebates could be added incentive for home owners to build, on top of more competitive contractors, and cheaper supplies and shipping costs.
We have always designed everything to meet current codes, and we recommend that home owners go beyond those to save on future energy costs. For example, instead of using an R-38 insulation value at the roof, an R-54 will insulate the house even better, and will save on long term costs. In older homes, the combination of lower insulated walls, single pane windows, and air gaps causes so much fluctuation in temperatures that furnaces are constantly turning on and off in the winter.
As I mentioned, there are a lot of great deals out there already, and these extra incentives could be all some people need to get going. Many architecture firms can’t count on two hands the number of projects and potential projects that are on hold. Some of these projects are starting to come back to life, mostly from people wanting to take advantage of all of the deals. This trickle could turn into a stream of projects flooding architect’s offices within the next year. In addition, architects designing government buildings could make out very well with this stimulus package.
I believe that banks lending money again will have the biggest affect for us personally, as many of our clients use loan money to fund their projects. The new stimulus package certainly does not have what most of the construction industry was looking for, but in this economy we should take whatever we can get. Hopefully this can all be part of the light at the end of the tunnel for everybody.
John Hendricks, AIA Architect, NCARB
For more information, please see this link from the AIA.
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