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Topic: THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

1.  THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

This message has been cross posted to the following Discussion Forums: Housing Knowledge Community and Custom Residential Architects Network .
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Hurricane Sandy leveled and squashed thousands of people's homes.  If architects and engineers had designed them they would be more standing today.  Less loss of life, less heartache, less loss of insurance payoffs.  It usually takes people dying to change building codes and state laws.  Here's a good reason to change the laws in all 50 states now.  I know I design the homes I design to resist hurricanes and high winds beyond those indicated in the code books.  It takes responsible LICENSED REAL ARCHITECTS to do things like this.  CRAN and AIA: here's a good time to get this going.

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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2.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

I 100% agree with Mr Sollener, as previously posted many people choose to avoid an Architect to design and guide the whole house process.They find a local designer or buy a ready made plan from a discount plan vendor, then they forget to have the plans confirmed by a local Architect if they could find one who would do this, as this would shift any liability to the Architect looking over the store bought drawings.

As a builder I have built houses both ways, with the store bought plans I have always run into troubles down the road with upset clients blaming me for problems with items that do not work, I built according to the plans and when items within the plans do not fit within the construction process the clients have no one to call to view the field issues. They attempt to have me resolve the problem, my response is call the person who designed the building and have them come out to view the problem and design a fix. The problems that come up, not all, but to mention a few, usually involves rooms not working, roofs not fitting, bearing points left off, (missing footings, mechanical design missing, plumbing details) from the plans. Basically all of the important details that pertain to the clients home interfacing with the new work are missing from the [Store Bought Plans]

Working with an Architect and the designed plans to fit the specific project, I find to be the best scenario, the Architect has direct knowledge of the sight conditions, has thought the project through and placed the clients wants into design that will flow with the existing conditions. That same Architect you can call on the phone if you have a site condition and have a site meeting to resolve any issues. 

If you weigh out the pros and cons of store bought plans vs Architectural designed plans [specific to the project] by the time the construction process is completed I have found that the costs are almost a wash, when you factor in unnecessary down time, change orders that are charged to the project owner to get the store bought plans to fit his project. The Architectural plans designed specific to the project always saves time and money when you factor in the whole project at its completion. These same plans have added value to the project. The end result is a project that blends in with its surroundings and is pleasing to the eye.

So if I have beat to hard on the Chest or Back of that said important "Architect" I say, you should have been wearing your body armor, as a builder it is standard equiptment for our team.

Best Regards, 
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Stephen Cook
President
Cook Construction Company
Canoga Park CA 91303
818-438-4535
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3.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

God bless you, Stephen!  Thank you.  It is refreshing to hear from a builder, supporting architects who primarily design residential projects.  I have encountered only a few like you, and I and all of CRAN AIA appreciate your perspective.  Builders like you become my lifelong friends.  Builders build.  Architects design.  Together we do what each of us does best.  In the end, we appreciate what each other does and we can have a happy relationship making sure that each of us has the benefits and insights that each of our professions has to offer.  And even better, our mutual clients win.  I certainly respect what builders do as constructors of what I design.  It is nice to hear that some builders respect what architects do.  And by the way, I may have something coming up out there.  Send me an e-mail and let me know if you might be interested: Rand@HomeArchitects.com 

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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4.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

I've been following this discussion and I have one question for all of you:

If some how you managed to convince the rest of the home building industry that you were right, and all homes should be designed by architects then given that architects design only about 3% of new homes in the US each year, then where will all these architects come from to design the rest of these 97% of homes?

Not only that, where will the money come from to pay the fees to design all these homes, which if designed by architects would what? Add 10-15% to the cost of the home for professional services?

I hear architects propose this idea all the time, with never a thought to these most elementary questions. And architects also seem completely unaware of how naive and even ignorant this make architects look, and contributes to it being unlikely that we ever design more than 3% of houses we work on now.

This discussion here has gone on for DAYs, and not one of you has even touched on this most basic question of such a proposal. While you bluster around with such foolish claims you ignore the fact that a small gain from 3% to something like 6% could make a giant difference to residential architects everywhere, and there are actually many things we can probably do about that. 

But you don't. Instead you bluster about all houses being designed by architects, you look foolish, and nothing improves. And I'm not even surprised that this would be case in an AIA interest group of "Custom" residential architects. I've called for a revision of this attitude here before, and it always meets with pushback. I'm sure this will be same.

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Gregory La Vardera
Architect
Gregory La Vardera Architect
Merchantville NJ
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5.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

I agree with Greg 100%,  (well not on politics... but we do love each other anyway!)

It's simply not realistic that custom residential architects can design all housing... the way service delivery works now.  I do think the goal is still possible, to get custom designed housing into the hands of everyone, but more analogous to a team of car designers and engineers producing a race car for Lemans and a mini-van out of the same design facility.

This model has existed in some variants in the past with the Sears Catalog http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sears_Catalog_Home and a wonderful grass roots level today with architects like http://www.lamidesign.com/plans/homepg.html Taking this to the masses will require a new business model.

Imagine, if we doulble our influnce from 3% to 6% over the next 10-20 years, Architects would increase by 50% and all be busy.

Peace

Dave

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David Andreozzi AIA
Owner
Andreozzi Architects
Barrington RI
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6.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

Thanks, David.

You all might be interested in two projects going on via the AIA:

1. Two other national knowledge communities are co-sponsoring a research grant whereby three members are developing a business model for rehabing historic buildings via a core insertion in order to get these urban homes updated, sold, and inhabited. Jason says it much more eloquently... 
http://network.aia.org/AIA/Blogs/BlogViewer/?BlogKey=3c32881f-7c73-42d7-9268-99eca1cd5c0b

2. There is a Mod/PreFab community on the website. The discussion forum is not nearly as lively as CRAN, but there are good resources and 48 interested member already there.
http://network.aia.org/AIA/Communities/CommunityDetails/?CommunityKey=3341e1eb-52fb-4778-ac0a-797e9fd2eadb


Eric, How did the Reinvention presentation go?

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Kathleen Simpson
Manager, Knowledge Communities
The American Institute of Architects
Washington DC
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7.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

You're missing the point of this particular discussion, Greg.  Which is: architects design homes Stronger than non-licensed people, to hopefully allow their homes to better withstand storms like Hurricane Sandy.  Having more architects design more homes  means that there should be less loss of life and property.  That's the subject of this thread. 

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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8.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

This comment is in response to both Rand from NC and Greg from NJ. First of all, I am suprised, Greg, that you seem to be in favor of non-licenced persons being able to design homes.  As you well know, here in NJ, only LICENCED ARCHITECTS  can design homes, which is a bonus for you and me both in this industry.  Your practice and mine includes a lot of renovation and new construction residential projects that in many states, can be done by a high school graduate CAD draftsman with a computer and business card, and builders who are willing to have them do their drawings regardless of their training and expertise.  I agree with the notion that only licenced professionals, especially architects, should be the only ones permitted to design buildings, regardless whether they are residential, commercial or what-ever.  It is a health, safety and welfare issue. 

However, I am not sure that Rand's comment regarding architects designing homes that are stronger is really valid, unless I am incorrect about laws in NC.  I have to assume that if a non-licenced person designs a home in NC, that at the very least, they require an engineer to design the structure, so the argument that architects homes are stronger may not be a valid one.  But maybe I am wrong....The advantage for us in NJ is that residential design for builders, developers....can't be just sealed by an engineer, but must be designed under an architect's licence first.  Only homeowners who literally "draw their own plans" can get away with having a home built without a seal, and must sign an oath, stating that they drew their own plans and take full responsibility for the design, and must meet all codes.   

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Thomas Wagner AIA
Thomas B. Wagner, Architect
Haddonfield NJ
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9.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

My understanding is that in NY & NJ a structural engineer can stamp house plans and this was a hot topic of conversation on this site in which you could imagine what the belly aching was about. You're in a completely different environment with a high concentration of urban areas. NC & GA, not to mention most of the United States, are made up of rural areas where licensed Architects are hard to come by. 

The problem here is that we would all love to see a United States that required Architect's stamps on all buildings, but some of us recognize that we have a lot of work to do before this pipe dream can become a reality while others seem to live in a fantasy land where if you whine enough you can make changes with no idea of how it actually works on the ground.

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Eric Rawlings AIA
Owner
Rawlings Design, Inc.
Decatur GA
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10.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

Eric,

Only architects, not PE's. We are not New York.

And I don't think it's a pipedream, but rather a goal. AIA's policies should be aspirational, not cynical statements about the current state of affairs. We'll leave that to NCARB. I'd rather heed the advice of Stephen Covey and "Begin with the end in mind."

What's wrong with planning for a future when every state has the same high concentration of urban areas? Until the government decides to shut the doors to this country, that scenario is an inevitability. 

Finally, you don't have to live in a jurisdiction to be licensed there, so I really don't think architects would be hard to come by, if the work was there. NJ allows the use of "stock plans" as long as they were produced by an architect licensed in the state where the drawings were produced, and a NJ licensed architect reviews them for code conformance and fits the building to it's site.

I'm not even saying that every building will fit into my target market, but they will fit into somebody's marketing plan, given an even shot at it. And with a license on the line, a license that means making a living, the homeowner's best interested are protected; which is the essence of practice regulation, isn't it?
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David Del Vecchio AIA
Architect
David Del Vecchio, Architect, LLC
Cranford NJ
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11.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

Let's not be absolutist about things. Those of us trying to speak in terms of the current reality in America would like to see a day when licenses are required everywhere, but you and I will be many, many generations gone by the time GA's rural areas resemble the density of NJ. There are so many small towns, if you can call them towns, that are many miles away from the nearest Architect. If you're suggesting our solution is that we Architects start mass producing house plans as the norm. I'll join you in next weeks discussion about why plan book designs are killing quality and our profession. We tried this at the turn of the century with the "pattern books" that ultimately destroyed our profession in the housing industry.

I agree we should have an ultimate goal, but we also have to have a realistic game plan that doesn't simply begin and end with us mandating all houses be designed by Architects today! With all due respect NJ, NY are at least 100-200 years away in terms of density from states like GA, SC, NC, AL, TN, KY, WV, etc, etc. Moreover, there are many, many house plan providers that will fight us tooth and nail over mandating Architect designs and I'll bet they have better representation in DC than we have. The builders will defend the status quo, so we must change the status quo first. We don't have anywhere close to the number of boots on the ground to provide designs for 1.6 MILLION houses a year when we're designing about 50,000 at the top of the boom (3%).

I'm not saying we roll over and forget about it. Like many others, I'm saying that mandating stamps is not the solution, it's the end game. I have many, many posts on this thread alone that explain how I'm able to get Architectural designs to the masses, especially to Spec Builders that construct the vast majority of our built environment considering numbers like 1.3 MILLION spec houses, 170K commercial, 320K custom houses in 2006 (US Census). We must make our services desirable to the Spec Builders or all we'll be doing is a lot of talking. Spec houses more than double all the rest of the buildings in this country put together.

I'm hearing proponents of bypassing reality and fast forwarding to the end game without doing any of the hard work to get there. We have to do the hard work of inserting ourselves into these markets before we convince anyone other than ourselves that we should be required. If we start making a serious effort out of working our way into the spec house sector with 70-80% of all the houses, we could easily create demand for Architects that will double and even quadruple our numbers, but this isn't going to happen with a mandate for the stamp first. We need to get boots on the ground and prove our relevance in a sector for average people work before we can make such demands.

And all of this brings us back to the original argument to my solution of appropriately adjusting our scope of services for the client, so we don't diminish our worth. Providing mass produced plan book designs that are affordable for spec builders will create a result of providing even less quality than what I can provide one on one, case by case for an affordable price. How will mass produced designs address specific site issues, how will you enforce your finish and fixture selections, how will you do CA, how can this be a better solution compared to what I'm doing for spec builders? 

Mr Del Vecchio, this isn't directed entirely at your comment, but addresses the whole thread of usual suspects that have contributed to this discussion as this is all connected.

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Eric Rawlings AIA
Owner
Rawlings Design, Inc.
Decatur GA
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12.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

I don't want to sound cynical, but what is the metric by which to measure that houses designed by architects are more valuable to the general public than houses that aren't?  After all, isn't the underlying determinant in this topic "value", whether it be any one, or a combination of commodity, firmness, or delight?

I recently saw an ad for funding an educational system.  The first graphic was brick shapes.  The question was, "Should we be investing in buildings?.  The second graphic showed computer screens.  The question was, "Should we be investing in technology?"  The last graphic was a teacher.  The statement was, "Studies have shown that advanced education and training for teachers is the single most effective determinant for elevating student test scores and decreasing drop out rates."

So, by corollary, is having a home designed by an architect (who, btw, is highly educated and trained) the single most determinant that results in added value.  It may be for having a home published or to win a design award, but I can't recall a client coming to me for either of those.

I believe that Eric on this forum has stated repeatedly that his designed spec houses sell for more than comps, and that builders appreciate his work.  I think that it is great if he can market that on his local level.  I don't think that it applies to anything more than the local level though. 


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Ken Brogno AIA
Architect AIA LEED AP
San Francisco CA
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13.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

Eric, In regard to your comment:

"My understanding is that in NY & NJ a structural engineer can stamp house plans and this was a hot topic of conversation on this site in which you could imagine what the belly aching was about."

I do not maintain a NY license but grew up there and worked there before I was licensed. I believe you are correct that in NY an engineer can stamp plans for a house, and I worked for a structural engineer at one point that did just that.

Not so in NJ. If a building is for people, it requires an architect's stamp. Some buildings for equipment - industrial, an engineer is permitted to be the lead professional. 

There are no "residential designers" or "draftsman" or other "architects nightmares" in NJ, sort of, however working under these laws has given me a unique perspective and experience in the kind of work that most architects would never touch. I'm not saying its good or bad. And I'm not saying the nation shouldn't adopt NJ's model, rather I am saying that most architects have no idea what it means and what it would be like.

So what is it like?

Well, despite the fact that every permit for a residential project requires an architect's stamp, there are not an appreciable greater amount of architects in NJ than other densely developed regions. It certainly has not created 97% more work over the 3% of houses designed by architects. Why? Because there are ways around this that are widely exploited, and in practice its not that much different than other places. It does not impact the wealthy developer, it hits the low income home owner.

The enforcement that every job receives a stamp is loosely enforced, in some places more than others, since permits are issued on a town by town basis from NJ's 600+ municipalities. 

Many small projects are designed by builders, and stamped by cooperative architects. Why they would participate in this, I can not say, but it is widespread.

Many pre-drawn house plans are issued permits, either by by cooperative architects stamping them, or under the home-owner exemption that Thomas described.

The home-owner exemption requires the homeowner to prep their own plans, and prep them correctly, in theory limiting the ability of anybody submitting a permit drawing on a napkin. Sounds good, but in practice, many small works are drawn by the contractor, and submitted by the owner under this exception. Many plan reviewers accept stock plans even when its clear the Owner did not prep the plans. The irony is that this requires the owner to certify that they are responsible for the design, and the law has unwittingly become a mechanism for unlicensed designers to transfer liability away from themselves and on to the owner. 

I am not casting judgement on this, I'm just saying that this is the way it plays out. Can it be improved? Sure. But if we were to button this up, and make it tighter to prevent these loopholes, we would clearly not have enough architects to do all the work, and a housing industry grousing over the imposed additional expense. They grouse about it now. You don't service everybody, or leave the lower range of work unable to afford services, then guess what - the law will not last, or loopholes will be exploited.

If your state does not have laws like NJ, then when an architect is hired its because the consumer sees it as adding value to the project. You are providing something that they can not get without hiring an architect. The consumer sees it as an exclusive luxury, or desired expertise, or creating value. Make that mandatory, and sure, the above will still apply to the range of work it does now, but it will also bring on a hoard of other work that does not. You will be facing a world of consumers that see you as an unwanted and unneeded imposition, a mandatory expense, a waste of their money. Are you ready for that? Are you ready to work under those conditions? Are you ready to work on the bottom of barrel work that comes along - somebody that has been told by the inspector that they need an architect, and they come to you hoping to spend $50 on a "sketch". 

I'll tell you this, I've learned a lot by serving people in this situation, about how to create value where nobody expects it or came looking for it. And I've learned a lot about how the vast 97% of stuff gets built, and how builders work at this level of quality and cost. And I've learned how to navigate that and provide service without a loss in places where architects in other states typically never tread. 

You really want to go there? Just be careful because I assure you that you have no idea what you are asking for when you say it should be a stamp for every permit.

Eric is exactly right - "The problem here is that we would all love to see a United States that required Architect's stamps on all buildings, but some of us recognize that we have a lot of work to do before this pipe dream can become a reality while others seem to live in a fantasy land where if you whine enough you can make changes with no idea of how it actually works on the ground."

enough, I waste my time on this crowd.

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Gregory La Vardera
Architect
Gregory La Vardera Architect
Merchantville NJ
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14.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

Thank you, Gregory.  Nothing wasted.  You have unique insights because you are living in a state that has required licensure.  And I am sure your observations are correct.  Good information, sir.  Things to think about.

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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15.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

"First of all, I am suprised, Greg, that you seem to be in favor of non-licenced persons being able to design homes."

Thomas, you misunderstand my comments.

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Gregory La Vardera
Architect
Gregory La Vardera Architect
Merchantville NJ
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16.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Thomas.  But no, you have been misinformed.  In NC and most states, unlicensed people can and do design homes WITHOUT any oversight from engineers or others.  Your great state of NJ is one of the rare exceptions and I applaud your lawmakers.  The rest of the nation can take a tip from those enlightened people. Any real architect can and will review the code books, but More than that, we all took a HSW oath, and I know that we all take that to heart.  We have learned from the structural engineers with whom we have employed on our previous projects.  We have learned from horrible storms like Andrew and have come to know, as licensed, responsible professionals, how to resist much of the forces that our homes and buildings face.  We build the precautions (often that are over and above mere minimum code) into our projects.  That is why an architect-designed home is stronger.  We learn and we improve what we do.

This is hallowed ground that needs to be protected for the Health, Safety and Welfare of the public. We must be vigilant.  It is amazing what can happen when we are not.  For instance, in AZ, where one of my architect friends practices, he has noticed that at least one large city doesn't even enforce the State-mandated requirement that Commercial buildings have engineers and architects designing them.  Unbelievable. 

Thank you for sharing my indignation at those amongst our ranks, licensed architects among us, who appear to be supporting the efforts of those who would erode the advances that we have made over the last 157 years.  Not good for us, not good for clients and certainly not good for the homes and facilities we, as licensed architects design.  We are, after all the "Voice of the Profession," so says the AIA.  Let's act like it. 

We have devoted decades to becoming licensed architects:
1.  we attend major universities and earn degrees in architecture, typically obtain master's degrees and beyond these days. Many people fail at this.
2.  we apprentice, often for as long as a decade, under the watchful eyes of stern older licensed architects who correct us, so that we learn how to be outstanding at what we do.  Many people fail to get through this time.
3.  we take grueling multiple day state and nationally administered exams to prove that we know how to design homes and buildings properly.  Many people fail at this.
4.  we must apply for and be awarded State licenses, documenting all that we have done to comply with law.
5.  we often receive NCARB certification, usually after another decade of outstanding performance as licensed architects, which requires the endorsement of other licensed architects, reviewing what we have done since we first became licensed.  Many people fail to accomplish this
6.  Then, we start to get good at what we do.
7.  Then, we have to take at least 18 CEUs a year if you're in the AIA.  Some fail to comply.

What other profession requires this?  None.  How many washout trying to accomplish what we all have?  What do they then do?  Create other dubious organizations to try to legitimize what they do, and confuse the public, often named with words approximating legitimate organizations like the AIA, because they couldn't hack it trying to accomplish the real deal: the requirements of becoming an honest to God architect.  I feel sorry for those who come up lacking, and but that's why the standards are so high: so that only the best professionals possible are designing homes and buildings for the public. It isn't easy.  Do not discount what we have all accomplished.  There is a reason the powers that be make it so hard. 

And having real architects in our own ranks sympathizing with and endorsing other entities than licensed architects to do what we do is treasonous to our objectives and the best interests of the public.

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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17.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

Gregory,

I have an answer to your first question--in three parts:
1. Since a great deal of the 97% of homes not designed by architects are built from "cookie-cutter" plans, a small number of architects can do the work.
2. Since about 20% of U.S. architects lost their jobs between 2007 and 2009 and only a few of them are back in practice, there is a huge number of architects currently available.
3. Among the laid-off who are back in practice, a large number are currently struggling to establish residential practices and they are also available.

To answer your second question:
The money to pay design fees can come from two places: reallocating the funds that are currently being spent on design and reallocating the savings incurred by the more efficient designs. 

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Sean Catherall AIA
Integrated Property Services
Bluffdale UT
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18.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

Thank you Sean.  I was thinking along similar lines.  Being a free-market system, America has a natural means of bringing people to handle market demands.  I believe that the AIA indicated that there used to be around 230,000+/- architects in the USA during the Boom, and as of a few months ago, this number has dwindled to around 180,000.  Natural attrition, just like in the woods, when a particular food supply or water supply is lost, the life forms have to find other sources or die.  But when the streams return and the food supply is increased, life depending on such sources will return to enjoy the renewed prosperity.  So it is with our marketplace. For instance, I have also become a licensed home inspector.  Right now, I do both architectural work and that.  So, if my architectural business increases, I will choose to not do many inspections, and enjoy more architectural work.  I imagine that other architects have done similar things to make ends meet.  Having 50,000+ architects return to the workforce as full-time architects should help, IF such a thing as our renewed supply of work would return, as in the Boom.  And, the universities have not stopped cranking out thousands of willing apprentices each year; I receive e-mails from those wanting jobs; don't you?

I agree with you Sean, having too much architectural work is Not the problem right now.  Rather, it is not having enough. 

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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19.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

One problem with this solution is that the 3% number is based on 2006 i.e. full employment of Architects. It would be nice to redirect Architects who previously worked for commercial firms to the residential sector, but I hardly think this will make the numbers work.

2005-2006 (according to the US Census Bureau)
80% Speculative houses
12% Custom houses built by professional builders. Most of our work is in this sector and we share this work with builders, designers, homeowners, and plan books. Most of these houses are built from stock plans.
8% Custom homes built by homeowners and likely to be in rural areas with a severe lack of design or building professionals.

Considering the Speculative House sector is the area with the most houses, no BUILDINGS, we need to learn how to insert ourselves into that market. Most of us have nothing but contempt for this sector due to the preconception that a spec house is a repetitious track home. As I mentioned previously, 1.3 MILLION spec houses were built in 2005 & 2006 EACH. Compare that with 170,000 commercial buildings and 320,000 custom houses. Do you honestly think Architects can provide design solutions for a lower construction cost than a spec builder? Isn't this why we snobbishly turn our noses up to spec houses? Isn't this why I get grief on this blog when I suggest we need to be designing more spec houses?

Spec builders are the masters of cheap. You will never out cheap them while providing more "professional" designs. You are absolutely kidding yourself. They play the appraisal game brilliantly by putting forth the least amount of effort to qualify for the "Best & Highest Use" category, thus there will always be someone building a more expensive house in their area. They rely on any old schmuck to come along and sell a house for more, so they can use that sale as a comp to get their el cheapo house to appraise for more than the last one they sold. They keep providing the same exact product while getting higher and higher appraisals. This is their business model. They rely on the next appraisal coming in higher than the last sale for profit. This was one of the main contributors to the artificial spike in property values during the boom. You will never out play them at this game AND provide a better design that will also lower construction costs enough to offset your fee. I've heard several on this blog mention this and you're all kidding yourselves. Mr. La Vardera is right when he says we're making ourselves sound naive and ignorant when we demand all houses be designed by Architects. I would love to see that happen, but we have a lot of work to do before this can become a reality. 

One reason why 60% of my work is unique spec houses is to push the sales prices higher in my area to make room for more favorable appraisals of my custom work. Fixing the appraisal methods is key to our relevance in the housing industry. When it comes to value, last place is first place. If you build the house that sells for the least, your appraisal comes in higher than your last sale. If you build the house that sells for the most and your appraisal comes in lower than your last sale. It's essentially averaging, which always favors the bottom and penalizes the top. This is the chief reason why the builders do what they do. You can't fault them for playing the game by the one rule they are given. If your houses appraised based on what you're selling as a spec builder (not their competitor's sales), then you will see them change their tune. Right now design is a penalty. If we want design to matter, we need to change appraisals. That's the only way we're going to see a significant share in the sector with the most work.

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Eric Rawlings AIA
Owner
Rawlings Design, Inc.
Decatur GA
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20.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

There's cheap and then there's ugly, inefficient and cheap. Almost all of the spec homes I see on the market are the latter. I think most architects could improve on that at no additional cost.

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Sean Catherall AIA
Integrated Property Services
Bluffdale UT
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21.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

60% of my work is unique spec houses and trust me, we always spend more to do a better job. As a quality, licensed professional, you would never stand for the quality of construction these guys provide and this always comes at a price. The difference is that people are willing to pay a little more for better quality than what's offered as the norm and that's the point. We need to get out there and push up the values in our areas and we make more room for our custom houses to appraise higher.

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Eric Rawlings AIA
Owner
Rawlings Design, Inc.
Decatur GA
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22.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

Eric - Thanks for your breakdown of drawings and hours required to produce a "Builders Set".  I know a lot of architects who have worked with/for builders, and they are providing a similar "streamlined" set.  I must admit, I am challenged to do what you do in 40-50 hours.  At this point, I think it would take me twice as long, BUT (having not worked for builders most of my career) I am hoping to get to that place where I can provide a set for their needs in a reasonable time frame. 

Here's a couple of questions.

Which BIM program are you using?

Did you include electrical plans and plumbing riser diagrams (if required)?

Are your builder/clients coming to you with some design imagery and/or floor plan in mind?  i.e I like a colonial home like this one....  15 hours to start at ground zero seems thin to me.

I'm not sure why there is such disdain for a good plan book designed by architects.  I don't agree with your assertion that plan books destroyed something,  You'll need to explain this for me.  I am looking at a copy of Radford's "Most Popular Homes in America" from 1925.  According to the new Intro (of the Dover Publication) the Radford Architectural Company (of Chicago) had it's own staff of architects "licensed in the State of Illinois"  Remarkable, given licensure for producing residential plans was far from being a reality in the 1920's!  The homes are quaint and well proportioned.  Keep in mind that the period revival of the 1920's was fought by the "Progressive" architects (termed Prairie School by Brooks in the 1960's) .  Stylistic revivalist architecture had no place in a modern society.  Yet the public wanted it and many of the neighborhoods architect's value today are a product of catalogue home books (Pattern books were really used before the advent of light-wood framing prior to the 1870's).  And the "Progressive" Architects?  Wright had 4 commissions in a 12 year span; Sullivan died broke and lonely.  Percell & Elmslie went out of business.  But, River Forest architect William Drummond switched to period revival designs.  My point in this being that our establishment (The AIA and Arch Schools) do not support architects who design for mass tastes and the builder's marketplace.  This needs to change!

The point that strikes me in all of this, is that the use of "licensed Architects" was seen as a benefit to the home owner or builder.  We have to get that mentality out front, so people choose to use a licensed design professional (Architect) over an amateur. 

I need to realize that, while I would like to do nothing but custom homes, in order to survive in NE Iowa, I will need to work with builders.  Right now their are two reputable plan services headquartered in Iowa.  BSB which is an architecture firm (started in the 1960's by architect Jack Bloodgood, who was editor of Better Homes in Des Moines) and a company run by an AIBD designer in Cedar Rapids - who's designs are not bad!  Many people will choose these services over working directly with an architect for custom or semi-custom design services.  Who could blame them?

Last night I went to my local NAHB meeting (where I was voted onto the board). When I tell builders that I am an architect, the cringe.  Home owners cringe too.  They see an ego-driven, extravigancy that they don't want or need.  I need to break this perception, in order to survive.  To the builder's (especially those designing themselves) I need to be able to convey that I will be able to deliver them a better design and more thorough set of plans.  They need to see that working with me, will increase their sales, and facilitate a smoother construction experience.  They need to see real value.   

So, I am thinking about how I can package my services to the small builder.  Perhaps offering custom and semi-custom solutions at a flat fee.  I have designer a few high end post & beam vacation homes.  I would love to do nothing but that, but realize the market is just not there!

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Edward Shannon
Waterloo IA
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23.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

I do have an advantage when it comes to the BIM program. I've been using ArchiCAD since 1997. I spent about 5 years training Architects at a commercial firm as a consultant. One advantage to becoming proficient in building the 3D model is that the clients give you quick approvals and the images you can create can be used for marketing the project before it's built. My Builder clients LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this. The basic secret to being efficient with BIM is to NOT provide 2D elevations and sections during Schematic Design because you end up wasting time embellishing and touching up these drawings and if something changes you're fixing 3D info as well as 2D info (2x the work). This is the most common mistake beginners make and they often give up the 3D model and spend all their time drawing 2D info on top of a bad model. The name of the game is getting the most out of the 3D info. If you need a dashed line to represent a roof over hang and you're also using a 3D slab to create the same soffit, then put this 3D element on a layer that shows up on the Floor Plan view. I see people redrawing stuff in 2D that they're also drawing in 3D all the time. With BIM, you should be killing 3 birds with one stone.

No one wants to live in the same house as their neighbor and thats a fact. Any time you repeat a house, you devalue it. My builders understand that the clients buying their homes are paying more and paying faster, not only because the designs are better, but because their houses are unique. There is no urgency to buy a cookie cutter when there are 3-5 of them ready to move into. There is an urgency to buy when you fall in love with a house that is one of a kind and will never be repeated.

I agree that there are many competent and beautiful stock plans being designed by name Architects, so my critique may be a bit harsh. What I mean is that repeating plans has taken away the need for Architects, thus our numbers suffer. If more of us could start weaning the builders off the stock plans and get them hooked on individual design, we would have a need for more boots on the ground. It's not the designs I see as evil, it's the concept that fills a need for the lack of Architects designing houses, but also creates the lack of need for Architects designing houses. FLW at the end of his life was cranking out Usonian houses for affordable prices and they were very unique. "He couldn't shake them from his sleeves fast enough." He saw the writing on the wall in the 1950s. If you can find a copy, "The Natural House" was one of his last books he wrote and it was in the early or mid 50s when he was bucking the mass production of houses using all these new materials like plastics and asbestos. It's long out of print, but true to form, he was ahead of his time describing issues we confront today in terms of sustainability and of course the problems that mass production and the suburbs have created.

I've learned to become the builder's friend, not adversary and it sounds like you're also doing this. Getting things started is always the challenge because people need to see proof before they stick their necks out there. I had to take a bath on several fees trying to get my process down, but it was worth it in the end. I can't talk about money, but I can say that most builders will drop an extra 4 figures on Kitchen cabinets or equipment. I'm sure you can provide a "builder set" that exceeds the requirements of your local building dept for a similar price. Once you get into a rhythm, you will find the need to draw more stuff diminishing. The designs you come up with will be tailored to fit their strengths and weaknesses. You won't feel the need to police them constantly to "get it right". Best of all, when working on a modest lot, zoning setbacks and lot coverage issues can cause problems for cookie cutter builders. An Architect who knows their jurisdiction well can help a builder maximize the potential of the lot. You can work around old growth trees that normally get clear cut. You can preserve the natural amenities of the site while making the house appear as if it grew up from the ground like the trees. I don't know about your area, but the inner city areas of Atlanta have tight lots with militant arborists that are fanatic about saving trees. We also have at least a 6ft drop in grade elevation on an average lot of 60'x180'. These cookie cutter houses look silly when they just extrude the foundation down until it hits something. These challenges are opportunities for unique design solutions.

This Spec House work always leads to custom work. It raises the values in your area making more room to design better custom houses as far as appraisals are concerned. I believe we should all be designing at least a few Spec Houses in the areas where we practice just to get the sales comps out there.

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Eric Rawlings AIA
Owner
Rawlings Design, Inc.
Decatur GA
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24.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

Sean, 

Good answers.

- Architects creating stock plans can be a way to spread more good design. Replace the 97%? Perhaps grossly over optimistic, especially since the vast majority of architects recoil at the thought of producing catalog plans. But there may be other business models that could extend the reach of architects. I don't see anybody thinking about that seriously, and that is a significant failing of our profession and the AIA.

- Paying for the new design cost by turning the savings of more efficient designs back into the project. I understand what you are thinking, but making designs more efficient via planning can only save some square feet, and people tend to then spend anything saved on upgraded finishes, or more space. If its energy efficiency you are speaking of, well those savings come after the fact, and usually it costs more to build energy efficiently, something that is still not on an appraisal sheet, something that is still an uphill battle for the consumer.

So, keep thinking about it. And start doing something about it too.



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Gregory La Vardera
Architect
Gregory La Vardera Architect
Merchantville NJ
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25.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

This same cast of characters says I'm doing a disservice to Architecture because I provide limited scope design services so spec builders can afford to have me custom design each house they build (no cookie cutting, no repetition). This is 60% of my work load this year. Their solution is to force everyone to respect and love them rather than figure out how to earn their respect and love. It's always the easy way out. Rand also thinks Architects should get an automatic 20% value upgrade on their appraisals, rather than make the appraisal system fair because that would mean we would still have to compete to earn our value. If we're so great then we shouldn't be so afraid to earn our respect, earn our value the free market way. You can't make people love you!

It's always the easy way out that sounds great to a bunch of Architects, but this attitude will never fly with the rest of the industry and if you weren't paying attention, we are the whipping child of the industry. We have less lobbyists than the plumbers. During the building boom, the number of custom houses went down from 330K in 1997 to 320K in 2006 while the number of spec houses went up from 757K to 1.3 MILLION. Our share of work actually went down and our profession was nearly cut in half. Many, many Architects that never designed a house or a stick frame building lost jobs.

We have a HUGE mountain to climb, so we better get our climbing gear out and quit this talk of making wings from wax and feathers and flying up to the sun like Icarus did. The challenges we face are enormous and we will never accomplish a single goal with all this fantasy talk. I have shared many aspects of my business model which has proven to be successful at getting Architectural designs to the average person and best of all the spec builders in a part of the country that still worships the builder and traditionalism. The same proponents to bypassing reality are the ones ridiculing me for finding an avenue to make myself available, desirable to the portions of the industry with the majority of the work. Portions of the industry we tend to ignore out of contempt. My attitude is, if spec houses are the problem, then find a way to start designing better spec houses. If you people hate spec houses so much, what are you going to wave your magic wand and just rid them from the kingdom? We need real solutions for real people and it starts with appropriately adjusting your scope of services, not your worth.

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Eric Rawlings AIA
Owner
Rawlings Design, Inc.
Decatur GA
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26.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes


Once again, Eric, I challenge you to list the documents you provide as being what you think is a good scope of services for what architects should be doing for housing design and post them here, for all your peers to see.   And don't put words into other people's mouths.  This is supposed to be an intellectual forum, we can all do without any name calling, thank you. 
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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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27.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

You know Rand, you're just trying to prolong an argument. I've already been on this ride with you and many others like you. Every project is different. Every jurisdiction is different. Every client is different and no matter what I list for you, you will insist that I'm doing a disservice to the profession because I didn't provide some drawing you feel is the deal breaker that will have me arrested by the Architecture Police. Just to humor you, I'll give you the basic list of what a Spec Builder needs based on The CIty of Atlanta and City of Decatur requirements. With this basic list I can provide the drawings required for design approvals from the Spec Builder and the CDs for the Code Official to issue a permit. BTW - I have never had a single Architect divulge this much information about how they do business, attract clients, and successfully crank out about 40 unique, one time, custom built homes a year as a sole proprietor, but I'm not doing this for you and your silly challenge, I want all of us to get out there and design unique, one of a kind Spec Houses and this is what works here in GA and not necessarily in the areas where all of you practice. Now this covers a 4 bedroom house with less than 3000sf on an urban lot of about 60ft x 180ft.

Schematic Design 15-20hrs:

Floor Plans, Site Plan (for zoning calcs) & 3D views of the BIM model

- At this stage there are no building sections, no elevations, no details, etc. The client understands 3D images above all when it comes to approving a design concept, so to keep costs down, you must keep it simple and efficient. Everything else may be nice, but it wastes time and is unnecessary for schematic design approvals. If you are proficient with BIM models, you will kill 3 birds with one stone and will be efficiently thinking of the end result, the details, the construction simultaneously while laying out your schematic ideas.

Construction Documents (aka Permit Set) 20-30hrs:

Site Plan
Floor Plans
Door & Window Schedules
Framing Plans
Construction Details (at least one complete and typical wall section, deck details, guardrail details, flashing details, foundation details, etc.) Every project is different, so some may require other more specific details.
RCPs
Exterior Elevations
Building Sections

Here's the list of what a SPEC BUILDER does NOT need.

Finish Schedules
Cabinet elevations
CA services
Equipment and fixture selections

These services can require about 40 hrs of your time, which is enough to complete this whole process if you are as efficient about drafting and designing as I. If you want a SPEC BUILDER to hire you to individually design each house they build, you will have to give up some control over the finish, non-structural items, and CA or your fee will be too high for them to be competitive and include you in their business model. CA services, finish services, etc are always offered at an hourly rate and often not needed by a SPEC BUILDER. Remember, the SPEC BUILDER is the client, so there is no reason to be paranoid about protecting them from themselves. It is their privilege to present this building as they see fit, since they OWN it and they invested THEIR money in it and THEY have to sell it. Much (not all) of the liability disappears when there is no 3rd party Owner involved. Unless your design is structurally unsound, geometrically incorrect, or simply not a competent solution, then all of the issues pertaining to workmanship is on the Builder. What are you protecting them from themselves? As the Owner and the Builder, they are responsible for more than what is normal when there is a 3rd party Owner involved. 

I know I'm going to get a barrage of comments about finishes, cabinets, etc., but is it better to let these SPEC BUILDERS use one lousy plan book design over and over, littering the landscape with ugly track houses or is it better to give them a one of a kind, Architectural design for each house they build and give up a little control over the finish/ fixture selections? You can't reduce your fee without giving something up. You can't participate if you don't give something up. I choose my SPEC BUILDERS like I would choose any other teammate. My builders are talented at finding new and interesting finishes, equipment, and fixtures. Honestly, they do this for a living and often source stuff I'd never find for great prices. Because they do this part, I'm able to get more work on the ground with a high rate of buildings built vs designs shelved. This year I have a 100% success rate of getting houses out of the ground. 60% are Spec Houses, 20% New Custom Houses, and 20% Renovated Houses. My Spec house fees are lowered for repeat business and I still make the most per hour on those projects. The large, new custom houses for homeowners are the most impressive and yield the highest total fee, but I generally make the least amount per hour. 

So there you have it Rand. Now I challenge you to put it all out there and convince everyone that your system is servicing more clients (per Architect/ intern), servicing the SPEC HOUSE sector that we have neglected that also happens to consist of the largest quantity of ALL BUILDINGS built in America (commercial & residential), and that you have a realistic way of delivering your services to the masses so we can require ALL houses to be stamped by Architects. I get Spec houses out the door in 40-50 hrs total and that allows me to charge a fair fee for my time and a fee that keeps the SPEC BUILDER competitive, thus making me desirable to their business model. They bring me the work, I don't have to look for it. This sector built 1.3 MILLION houses in 2006 as opposed to 320,000 custom houses of which we may have designed a combined total of 50,000. Show me the numbers Rand. How do you suppose we take over the entire housing industry with your delivery model, so we can stamp 1.6 MILLION houses per year, as opposed to the 50,000 we currently design per year?


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Eric Rawlings AIA
Owner
Rawlings Design, Inc.
Decatur GA
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28.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

Actually Eric, I'm trying to settle things, not provoke and I encourage you once again to not put words in other people's mouths or assign motives to anyone but yourself.

Thank you for sharing what it is you do, so that we can finally (and hopefully for the last time) address any issues that you and I and anyone else struggling with "how much is enough" and be done with it. 

And , your list doesn't really sound too bad or that much different from my own Basic Services.  I'm not seeing much of a reduced set of documents there, so I don't really understand what you have referred to in your previous comments about that.  I believe that you should do a finish schedule, even in an abbreviated, simplified format, because I happen to think that this keeps things straight with the builder and... dare I mention it again: not having a finish schedule has gotten other architects into trouble with State Boards of Architecture.  Not me saying this: just reporting to the CRAN and you what I have seen on the "rogue's gallery" of things that State Boards have indicated are inadequate.  Even though you may not call it a finish schedule, I suspect that you really do have some notes somewhere on your drawings that indicate something like: "All walls and ceilings to have_________ finish and ________ surface treatment, unless indicated otherwise..." and similar such wording. 

So, that is really our only rather slight difference of opinion.  I totally agree that cabinet elevations and the like should be optional services, along with interior elevations and such descriptions.  it sounds like you have Wall Sections and Building Sections.

The only other thing that I would comment on is that I always provide specifications, and it appears that you do not.  That is the boiler plate that will keep clients, contractors and architects out of trouble.  One time, a very long time ago, I did not include a spec.  The result was that the builder used some wood outside and it was structural and it rotted and fell.  Now then, we could discuss that it was the builder's responsibility to comply with code, as my documents indicated, however, wouldn't it have been prudent of me to have had at least an outline spec that stated that, specifically?  Since then, I do.  How long your specs are, will be up to whomever is preparing those and the detailed nature of your project and your comfort level.  You likely cover many of the things in your drawing notes that you may believe your specs would cover, however, it is so easy to forget something.  Also, I use my specs as a final Quality Control device, and I always find something in the drawings that needs noting, that the specs refer to.  Not a bad QC system to use.  And regarding doing a spec book, I do not.  I include the specs right in my drawing sheets, in what I call my "A15" series.

Also, I might suggest you add Roof Plans to your list, assuming that this is new construction.  I imagine that you do, you just may have forgotten to list it. 

I also include a Title Sheet, which is easy to do and a great place to locate your logo and perhaps an enhanced Front Elevation (which you copy from the technical elevations and spruce up a bit, perhaps).  I also include a boilerplate General Information Sheet which lists things like abbreviations, project data and who the surveyor, structural engineer and others involved might be.  And I include a Table of Contents.  I suppose one could eliminate some of these or smash them together onto one sheet, but that takes more work and more time (depending on project size and scope).

Electrical plans are an option, as are 3D movies, as are bidding services, and Construction Administration, just as you indicated.  We are in agreement on those things.

So: there you have it.  Nothing really much to argue about.  And it appears, not really that much difference. 

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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29.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

oops.  And of course: A  Site Plan.  You may need it at 1, 2, or 3 different scales, depending on the detail you are trying to show.  I am sure that was just an oversight, Eric, and that you do include this.

I also provide details, as you indicated, and I have them organized into a Master Detail system, generally into CSI spec sections.  This is my A12 Series, and for instance, A12-3 are concrete details, such as the rain riser at the garage entrance.  A12-6 are wood details, A12-7 are flashing and roofing details, etc..  Many of these are Master Details, which means, very little, usually has to happen to them other than a title block update.  However, once in a while, due to some special requirements, the details themselves need to be modified for unusual circumstances.

Once again, I am not really seeing a huge difference in drawings here. 

Due to the specialized nature of my practice (often mountain timber homes), I have to include special timber truss large scale elevations, which you may not need to do if your projects do not include things like this.

So: nothing really to argue about.  Have a nice day.


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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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30.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

and, with detailed renovations, I would suggest including Demolition Drawings (possibly plans & elevations and possibly sections), unless that information can be accommodated on your other drawings without so much clutter that it becomes confusing. 

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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31.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes


Rand, Additions/Renovations are custom.  They are typically commissioned by the owner and not by a builder for re-sale.  Although the latter sometimes does happen, hopefully these builders are smart enough to realize they need an architect to create an addition that flows seemlessly without screwing up the roof lines.  
 
In the Chicago area (where most municiplaities require an architect's stamp) in good times there was a nice niche market for small firms.  Most contractors in this sector realize the need for a good architect as well. 

But, where I live, they ain't smart enough and typically a shitbox gets tacked on the back of the house. The flow is bad and the original proportions of the house are destroyed.  Such a shame!
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Edward Shannon
Waterloo IA
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32.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

My business model started with designing renovations for Spec Builders. These builders are already thinking in terms of each project as a one of a kind building. Eventually, these same builders started building new. I still work with 2 builders that exclusively renovate old houses at spec. As you describe, most of these builders do not have the imagination to repurpose an old house to make it flow ad function in terms of today's needs. This is what made my imagination and design services invaluable to them. With me, they were able to create much better renovations and together we always figured out how to get the most bang for the buck. In fact, I work with a builder who mostly does custom now, but she started as a spec renovator. To this day we always approach these old urban neighborhood houses with the same attitude. First you look at Renovating, then you look at Repurposing (saving most of the floor/ foundation and 50% of the walls) aka whole house renovation, and lastly Replacing the old house with something new.

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Eric Rawlings AIA
Owner
Rawlings Design, Inc.
Decatur GA
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33.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

Rand,
How many hours do you put into a 4 bedroom house design? 
I think the difference we're talking about is between the necessity of specifications, finishes, and fixture/ equipment selections. When dealing with a Spec Builder, they are the builder, client, owner. I think you and I are arguing over the huge difference created by our relationship between the clients we're working for. If I'm not mistaken, your concern is to protect an Owner from a potentially unknown Builder. When you work with these Spec Builder clients on a regular basis, it's almost like a design/ build relationship without the design/ build liability due to separation of business entities.

The builders I work with are not strangers nor are they incompetent hacks, thus there is much less concern about them using an inferior product, picking a bad color, or misunderstanding a detail and building something wrong. Because many of these houses are built in the neighborhood that I live in, I can stop by the job site for a Pop Quiz and spend 10 minutes making sure everything is going well and not feel compelled to charge for a quickie check up. I often do this when no one is around and I can help them get in front of potential problems without committing a lot of my time to a site visit. Once you get into a rhythm, you both begin to understand your strengths and weaknesses and your designs begin to create very reliable results. As a norm, my first design solution is accepted with very minor comments/ adjustments, which speeds up the process and keeps my design time down. Because these Builders are competent "designers" they typically choose finishes, colors, fixtures and equipment that work within their tight budgets and a within a color/ texture palate that works. My details cover the finishes that can cause liability issues, a schedule is completely unnecessary. Again, it's their investment and they have to sell it, so it's their privilege to make final decisions based on budget and aesthetic. My job is to provide the design that sells. My job is to stand between them and the plan book. The result is designing a custom house for each site they build on which eliminates repetition and can potential create lots and lots of jobs for Architects if we many of us start moving in this direction with a portion of our work. Because these houses sell as new houses, they contribute to appraisal values and push up the value in my neighborhood for my custom houses. WIN-WIN!

The Spec Builders that seek me out are looking to provide a high end product that they can sell and the agents that direct them my way do so because they know my houses are selling faster and for more money than the competitors. This is not bragging, you should see the difference we're creating between our product and the average cookie cutter. It turns out, no one wants to live in the same house as their neighbor and our houses are selling like hot cakes. I just can't design enough of these by myself, so I share this gold mine of work with all of you. Any of you could be doing this. I make my best money per hour on my lowest total fees with this type of work because the most time consuming portions of the process have been streamlined which include Schematic Design approvals, finish/fixture shopping, and trust in your teammate to provide the quality we're often spending many, many hours protecting ourselves and our Homeowner clients from. In the end, the Builder is taking on the majority of the fiscal risk and liability, while I have no problems collecting more numerous smaller checks that ultimately require the least amount of time on my part. The bigger the check, the more difficult to pry from your client's fingers. These clients are glad to pay quickly! 

Success = Dollars per Hour, not the Total Fee!

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Eric Rawlings AIA
Owner
Rawlings Design, Inc.
Decatur GA
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34.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes

Eric, that is like asking "How much is a car?"  It really depends on what the client wants.  But like I said, there is no argument.  We seem pretty close on what we do; nothing for either one of us to complain about.  Let's move on to constructive issues.

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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35.  RE:THIS is why only licensed architects should be designing homes