Do You Need an Architect to Build a House or Renovation?


    There is no requirement to have an architect to build a new custom home or renovate existing house. Local bylaws do not mandate architects to be involved in single family home construction.

    It is broadly thought that architects provide documents and submit them for permits. It is a mistake but widely accepted as a norm.

    Dissecting bylaws and building codes we can see that in order to build new houses it is necessary to submit documents and obtain building permit. Right now there are 8 states that are exempt from this rule. Building codes still do not exist in Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Arkansas.

    Even without building code regulations, there are some rules that contractors and builders. It involves septic tanks and connections of main services like gas, sewer, water and electricity.

    Options to Complete Drawings without Architect

    We just mentioned that architect doesn’t have to be involved in overall process to create and submit drawings for residential home construction. In fact many designers and engineers sometimes call themselves architects and it confuses entire industry.

    Four options of completing drawings without architect:

    • Purchased Drawings
    • Designer and Engineer
    • Preapproved Builder
    • No Legal Obligation

    To answer do you need an architect to build a house or someone else can be hired for drawings we explored few possibilities. Besides architect there are other options for obeying local laws and provide necessary documents. Here is a list of options for new obtaining necessary documents:

    Purchased Drawings – There are literally thousands of premade plans that are available online. Companies make them every day and sell on different platforms. Something very simple can cost as low as $100 per plan or as high as $5000. It all depends what is included in package and how big is the house.

    Once again we recommend getting familiar with local building code before ordering anything. Online premade drawing may have floor plan, exterior (elevation) drawing, 3d rendering, detailed architectural details, engineering details and even breakdown of all materials or this specific project.

    Popular concept of selling these type of drawings is to offer initial floor plan and rendering for low price to attract clients and upsell engineering details additional documents required for permit. Reputable companies can even adjust selected drawing and slightly change floor plan as per request.

    Designer and Engineer – Majority of drawings made for new home construction where building codes exists are made by designers. Courses and simple education allows you to get certificate of designer that can create simple drawings for small residential homes.

    However the job does not stop here. Someone has to confirm structural integrity for major renovation and be liable for loadbearing walls. In this case often it will be structural engineer. He or she carefully examines all notes and details wrote by designer and confirm drawing with engineering stamp.

    Custom design for not complex 2000 sq ft home can cost around $3000 – $5000. Engineering work can add another $1000 or so for approving everything.

    Preapproved Builder – Subdivision or massive home construction process is different from unique custom home projects. Area is preapproved for development with samples of houses that are to be built. It can be exactly the same layout for each home or can vary significantly.

    Custom changes may also be available if contract is signed before renovation of your home is started. This would require engineer to change few details submit for revision. Procedure of floor plan change with several notes from engineer is quick and cost effective.

    Expect to spend $500 – $1000 for such changes and the process to last up to a month. In other words, it’s very insignificant comparing to other drawing options.

    No Drawings Needed – As mentioned above there are 8 states in America that do not require building permits at all for building new home. Therefore architect, designer or engineer doesn’t need to participate in drafting plans.

    You may think that living and building homes in states without building code is awesome, but expectation is far from reality. Most incidents happen in these 8 states and you have to be careful who you hire.

    In every stated option for home construction we insist on at least consulting and getting structural engineer to confirm beams, joists with load bearing walls. You do not want your house to lean or even fall after 10 years.

    Before spending thousands of dollars and signing a contract for design of your new house project get familiar with local requirement. Home owners may be able to get everything approved without professional help of engineers, designers and architects. This would save tons of money and time.

    Benefits of Working with Architect When Building Home

    Although it is absolutely not necessary to work specially with architect on design and architectural drawings for new home there are known benefits associated our team wanted to share.

    Main 5 Benefits of Working with Architect:

    • More Technical Education and Knowledge
    • One Man Show
    • Easy to Make Revisions
    • Discount Prices
    • Save Time

    More Technical Education and Knowledge – To become licensed architect it may take 5 plus years. Collage degree or similar credentials program has to be completed before examination is provided for licensing. Additional professional experience can also be one of credentials for certification. Throughout this long process, future architects learn all aspects of building codes, designs and how entire construction industry operates.

    One Man Show – With Architect working on home design no one else is needed. Licensed professional can draft the plan, approve it on his own and submit for city review.

    Easy to Make Revisions – The worst nightmare of builder is to have revised drawings after the project started. It could be due to mistake in original drawings or because client is stubborn and really wants that change. Architects can easily review request and send letter that approves revision and provides details for structural change.

    Discount Prices – Simply because you are dealing with one person, the cost may be lower. Why should you pay designer, find structural engineer, pay him for stamp and submit it. Cutting middleman and unnecessary steps in process can definitely save money.

    Save Time – Identical to our point with prices, the time is shortened because documents stay at one persons’ desk all the time until finalized. By using only architect instead of long chain of professionals the time can be shortened in half.

    Remodel On Point has list of best rated architects in every state and every major city throughout America. Home owners should themselves – do you need an architect to build a house or take a risk without professional? Reach out by email if you are looking for an architect for specific project and we can surely help out with contact information.

    What is the Job of Architect in Construction or Renovation?

    Saying that architect cannot submit documents for permits is incorrect as well. Professional and licensed architect has the power to draft and stamp drawings for renovation of small homes. What we are forgetting is that architects are largely involved in commercial construction and even high-rises.

    Single family residential home construction is just one branch of architects to direct their career. They can be working in a team on sky scrapers with creative designs for years, building roads and bridges according to standards and local requirements, drafting plans for factories, plants and other commercial buildings.

    Architect’s primary responsibility is to design or draft a plan for new construction or major change of building according to building codes and standards. They are responsible for confirming that overall design, size, and structural details work together.

    Steven H.
    Steven H.
    General Contractor and Home Builder with over 20 years of experience. Write and Edit educational posts for several Remodeling Blogs. Specialize in trade management and technical construction details.

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