UA-74193310-2Architect's Many Roles | Michael Smith Architect - San Luis Obispo, California - Home Remodeling & New Constructio

Architect’s Many Roles

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Architect’s Many Roles

Architect's Roles

Architect's Many Roles

I spent quite a bit of time educating my clients on what an architect does. I don’t mean that is a bad thing. But I get many people who think all an architect does is produce working drawings so the contractor can build their house. While ultimately that is true - what I do is so much more. I am an advisor, mediator, designer, negotiator, researcher, technician, CFO and vision build



I advise my clients on a variety of subjects connected to their project. Sometimes it is not always connected to the project. I layout the initial map for their project advising them on the best route to their dream home. I will advise you which path to take to gain approval for the design of your home. There can be many layers of approval required: planning, design review, & building. I will walk you through all those layers.


I mediate between many parties to the project. That mediation may start with you, my clients. If I have (2) spouses - I frequently find that they have different ideas and priorities for their dream home. Some of these ideas are in direct conflict with the spouse’s plans. I will mediate a path between both parties. It is always a little surprising that two people who have lived together for so long aren’t aware of their partner's priorities. I will work with them so that both come out on top.


Designer is my primary role. I will take all your hopes, dreams, aspirations & inspirations and combine them into your dream home. We will work together to unite your ideas into a plan where you will enjoy spending a significant portion of your day. The place where memories will be made. I enjoy this role the most. The surprise that happens when you see your home for the first time on paper.


Now that the design is complete, I will become the negotiator. Depending on where the project is located, there may be additional approvals that are needed before construction can begin. Planning and design approval may be required. If it is planning approval that could be as straightforward as submitting site & floor plans and exterior elevations. These plans and elevations will describe the project to the local jurisdiction so they will approve the design.

If a design approval is required then more negotiation will be needed. Some residential projects are located in areas that are architecturally sensitive. Meaning, that the community doesn’t want a 3-story mansion on a quiet little street. Because this has happened in the past, the local planning department has put restrictions and guidelines for the design of residential projects. You as the homeowner will need to obtain approval from the local architectural review committee before you can submit for a building permit. This is where my skills as a negotiator come in play even more. I need to convince the architectural review committee (usually made up of your neighbors) that my design complies with their guidelines while providing some variety and individuality that you, my client, may want. I am usually successful; though some jurisdictions are tougher than others.

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Once all design and planning approvals are complete, I can start the working drawings (also called construction drawings or construction documents ). I will become the researcher & technician. Working drawings are technical drawings that the contractor uses and refers to build your home. Floor plans and exterior elevation give way to building sections and details. All meant to provide sufficient information to construct your dream home. There are many aspects to a home construction project. Many items need to be researched. How material work; how do the different elements fit together. Details need to be investigated and studied.


Yes at times I am expected to be the Chief Financial Officer. I am supposed to know how much my design will cost. Unfortunately, It is impossible to be perfect for this part of the project. A construction project has many aspects, which are out of my control. I can design the most magnificent space that is projected to be under budget - but I don’t swing the hammer. Costs go up, contractors are busy, and designs can be complicated. Supply and demand factors also figure into the construction. The more active the construction environment, the higher the cost of materials. All these factors play a part in the price of your home construction project. I have square foot costs that I know from past projects, but that needs to be adjusted depending on the complexity of the project. But it is only an estimate. It is always best to have the right contractor involved in the project as early as you can. They can give a better estimate for the project and offer suggestions that can reduce the cost of the project.

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Vision Builder

All the roles of an architect lead to this one - Vision Builder. I take your vision for your home, add your wants and dreams, sprinkle in future memories and room to grow and come up with your dream home. All the other roles that I serve during your project combine to achieve your vision for your home. That is my ultimate role. It is the challenge I love to meet every day.

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