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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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