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Curb Appeal, New Eyes, and How Archability can Help

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I’m sure just about everyone is aware of the many difficulties the residential real estate market has been facing and may continue to encounter for the foreseeable future. According to the experts a combination of issues has contributed to the problem – over-building, foreclosures, sub-prime mortgages, and poor lending practices are all terms that have been included in the discussions.

If you have a home listed for sale or plan to put one on the market shortly, in all likelihood you’re experiencing the frustrations of trying to move a home in this depressing climate firsthand. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales contracts for previously occupied homes fell sharply in April – down to their lowest level since last fall. Home values have continued to drop in many regions – a trend attributed in part to the number of foreclosures still in the pipeline. So how do you sell a home in a market like this without losing a bundle in the process?

Fortunately, all the news isn’t bad. The NAR also reported that existing home sales for the first quarter of this year were up 8.3 percent over the fourth quarter of last year and we’re now on an annual pace of about 5.14 million existing home sales for this year. That’s a lot of homes that are being purchased — perhaps all you need to do to contribute to that statistic is price your house competitively and make it stand out from the rest.

A realtor contributing to an article in Remodeling Magazine made the comment that in today’s real estate market “curb appeal is king.” When your home is competing with so many other homes for the few qualified buyers considering a purchase, catching buyers’ eyes from the moment they pull up can help swing a deal in your favor. It may be as simple as having a beautifully landscaped front yard or creating an enticing entryway that’s easily noticeable from the street. Small roof line changes to the front elevation can sometimes give a home a fresh appearance or adding a little faux brick or stone might be just the small touch your house needs.

The secret is having an educated new set of eyes look at the front of your home. You’ve been looking at your house with the same set of eyes every day for months and maybe even years, but a landscape architect, draftsperson, or architect might take one look at the front of your home and know exactly what can be done to set it apart from the others.

When I build homes, I always have another construction manager walk them just prior to settlement and point out any defects I may have missed. It always amazes me how many small items I’ve walked past on a daily basis that a new set of eyes are able to pick out in a moment. Let the architectural service professionals you connect with through Archability be your new set of eyes and with a few inexpensive improvements, give your home the great curb appeal it needs to sell in a tough market.

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When to Call in an Architectural Services Professional

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If you’re visiting this site, there’s a good chance that you’re either an architectural services professional hoping to bid on jobs or you’re planning a project at your home or business and think you may need the assistance of someone in the field, but may still have some doubts.

I may be able to provide some guidance for visitors in the latter category as I have over 25 years of experience in commercial and residential construction management. During that time I have constructed new homes, renovated existing homes, finished basements, and been involved in home additions. I have also built professional and retail buildings, remodeled existing structures, and done numerous tenant build-outs during my lengthy construction career. What does this diverse collection of projects have in common other than featuring me as the construction manager? They all involved the services of an architectural professional in some capacity.

I consider myself to be very knowledgeable about construction practices, labor and material budgets, and working with customers and sub-contractors, but I’ll never have the flair for creative design that most architectural services professionals can bring to the table. I can recall many examples from over the years, but two that stand out took place about 15 years apart.

I had a customer in 1992 who wanted a Christmas shop retail building and because she was a major Department 56 retailer – she wanted the new building to have a Dickenseque design. I spent hours attempting to arrive at a concept the customer liked and thought I might lose the job due to her frustration at my inability to comprehend her wishes. I finally decided to take her over to visit a local draftsman I knew (this was before the Internet was popular) and within an hour he had done several sketches she liked.  The job proceeded to working drawings and the building ended up being one of the most attractive in town. Its unique design caused it to become a local landmark and it still is today.

Jump forward to 2007 when I was hoping to build a new home for a Vice-President of a very large and famous Internet company. The family had lived in Manhattan where the company had offices, but he was retiring and they were relocating to Virginia to be near their daughter. The only thing holding up the deal was their lack of confidence in my design abilities, so I employed the services of an Interior Designer with a local architectural services company. There is no doubt in my mind that their finished home will always rate as the nicest I have built. The Interior Designer offered suggestions for the project that I would have never thought of on my own.

The point of these stories is that an architectural services professional can offer input to your project that your builder or even you may miss. Whether you’re planning a large custom home, just finishing your basement, or adding some retail space – you owe it to yourself to discuss the project with a design professional.

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Archability: Not Just for Architects

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If this is your first visit to Archability, you may think that you’ve stumbled into a world where a Degree in Architecture is a requirement for entry. It’s true that one of Archability’s primary functions is providing assistance to Architects searching for qualified professionals to join their teams on various projects. The site also provides a location where Architects can read about and bid on future work that may be on the horizon.  However, these services are just a small part of what Archability is all about.

Architectural Services Professionals

There are a lot of highly trained professionals working in the architectural field who don’t have a Degree in Architecture. Architectural illustrators, cad operators, designers, and many other skilled professionals provide invaluable services to Architects and can also help customers with projects not requiring a professional license. Archability is a site where Architectural Services professionals can discuss latest industry trends, building code interpretations, and bid on upcoming projects.

Archability for Homeowners

Recent economic conditions have hurt the remodeling and home improvement industries, but they haven’t ground to a complete halt and may even be showing signs of beginning a recovery in some markets. Families continue to renovate their homes, finish basements and attics, and in many cases are deciding to add on rather than move up a larger home during a difficult real estate market. Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value survey found that for 2010-2011 the average national cost for adding a family room was about $85,740. Creating an attic bedroom can cost you about $51,428, and if you want to add a master suite to your home, you may spend about $108,090 before you have a chance to relax in that new Jacuzzi.

When you’re spending that kind of money, making sure the job is done right the first time is important and starting with a good set of working drawings is the first step. Archability provides a platform where you can post your project and receive bids from qualified Architectural Services professionals. Just a few of the reasons for hiring a trained expert to do your drawings:

  • Creating a design with the most efficient use of space
  • Providing stamped drawings for permits
  • Proper sizing and placement of doors and windows
  • Ensuring that local and national building codes are met
  • Proper sizing of structural members

If you’re adding on to your home, an Architect or Drafts-person can design the addition so it flows into the existing structure rather than always standing out as an afterthought.

Archability for Business Owners

As the economy continues to recover many business owners may begin thinking about an expansion at their existing location or perhaps having a new building constructed. Depending on the size being considered, the location of the business and the use group classification it falls under, you may be required by your local building officials to have drawings provided by a licensed Architect.

Archability allows you to post your project and connect with Architects, Interior Designers, Landscape Architects, and others experienced in providing drawings for your type of business. You can solicit proposals from and hire from our talent pool for just the drawings or reduce your stress level by having them manage the entire project.

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