Newsletter: Do I Need an Architect?

Updated: Sep 10, 2019




A complete kitchen remodel usually requires the work of an architect.

Not every project requires the expertise of an architect. Repairs, simple room conversions and material upgrades are prime examples of these cases. If there is a level of complexity where you just can’t get what you want by pointing and describing, it might be time to call on your favorite architectural design professional. All of us see construction around us all of the time, but real architecture is a much less common and more highly appreciated occurrence.


Most of us would agree that an architect was absolutely necessary to design the Ritz Carlton in Downtown Los Angeles. Most of us would also agree that there is no need to hire an architect when it’s time to repaint the weathered exterior facade of your home. But what about everything in between? When is it okay to skip the architect altogether and go straight to a contractor for the end product?


If we take a look at the letter of California law, anyone is legally allowed to design a single family residence, or, if they so desire, to pick up a pad and paper and design up to a four unit apartment on their own. Of course, no one in their right mind would do such a thing: designing buildings is a complex process that requires training and experience.

Architects have been licensed by the state to practice architecture. They have gone through a five-year University program, practiced during a three-year working internship, and passed the seven tests necessary for licensing. A licensed architect has a wealth of knowledge that one simply cannot find elsewhere.


But, knowing that an architect is qualified for a job does not necessarily mean that you need one. Adding a third bedroom or a second story will, of course, require the work of an architect. However, converting a basement into a game room or changing that third bedroom into a home office will most likely not. A skilled, licensed contractor will be able to convert these types of spaces without the need to even have measured drawings. If, on the other hand, you want to transition that ugly commode into a master bath worth of royalty or if you want to upgrade your outdated kitchen to a chef’s arena that would make Gordon Ramsey jealous, deep consideration should be given to hiring an architect.


Although hiring an architect may seemingly add to the overall cost of your project, a skilled architect will likely be able to find cost savings in places you might never have thought. Of course, if you spend $30,000 to remodel your bathroom only to discover that the flow of the room doesn’t work or that the ceiling height is just a little too low to comply with the building code, you will wish that you had spent the extra money.


Not every project requires the expertise of an architect. Repairs, simple room conversions and material upgrades are prime examples of these cases. If there is a level of complexity where you just can’t get what you want by pointing and describing, it might be time to call on your favorite architectural design professional. All of us see construction around us all the time, but real architecture is a much less common and more highly appreciated occurrence.