What You Should Know Before You Hire a Design or Construction Professional

It must be overwhelming to hire an Architect. With companies advertising services for architectural designer, designer, interior design, etc. it is confusing, even for me, what services these companies offer and what is actually required not only to complete a project but if the company is advertising a professionally licensed design and construction professional. These unregulated titles make it difficult for potential customers to make an educated decision on the services required to get their project up and moving as well as through the permit process and ultimately constructed. Nearly weekly I come across individuals confusing the public and disrespecting the title of Architect and often times blurring and confusing clients with terms like designer, architectural designer, etc. In fact, many do even hold a degree in the field of design or construction much less have a license to practice in the industry.

Did you know an Architect is the only design and construction professional that has a fiduciary responsibility to the client? And, the Architect holds to the values and ethics of the profession as a licensed professional with the same life safety concerns and issues as physicians, engineers, and other licensed professionals.

F i d u c i a r y

          Definition by Merriam-Webster     –      adjective  fi·du·cia·ry  \ fə-ˈdü-shē-ˌer-ē , -shə-rē , -ˈdyü- , fī- \

          a : held or founded in trust or confidence

                    a fiduciary relationship

                    a bank’s fiduciary obligations

          b : holding in trust

          c : depending on public confidence for value or currency

                    fiduciary fiat money

I recently completed an addition in the New Orleans area. As with other projects, the clients had reached out to me for a second opinion. During our initial consultation they realized that they were not previously working with an Architect but an individual who claimed to be a “Residential Designer.” That designer’s recommendation was to add to the rear of their existing home, which would not meet the Orleans parish setback regulations and other ordinances. They worked exclusively with a contractor who estimated a construction cost nearly twice as much as the estimated construction cost I predicted during the consultation (and ultimately the final construction cost). But, most importantly, the addition they proposed did not meet the need and design goals for the client and would have eliminated any room for their dream pool. If they would have continued with that “Residential Designer,” not only were they to find someone to “stamp” their drawings, which is illegal, but they would have ultimately paid more than twice the design service fees and left with an inferior design that did not meet their objectives. I hear similar stories monthly when I am reached out for projects in the metro area. And, what I have learned, is that by cutting corners you may be putting yourself, your loved ones and business in jeopardy and creating more (financial) headaches in the short and long term.

To be called by the legal title Architect, one must have graduated from an accredited program at a university or college with, at minimum, a Bachelor in Architecture. Following the degree, the Intern Architect adheres to the requirements of the Internship Development Program, IDP. Upon finishing this residency program, that lasts at minimum 3 years, then the candidate is eligible to begin taking one of many licensing exams. (Today there are seven exams; when I became licensed over a decade ago, there were nine.) Upon passing all the exams and being in good standing, the candidate is eligible to apply to their state accordingly and register as an Architect. (All unlicensed professional with this degree working among other licensed Architects are called Intern Architect despite their years in the profession, age, or experience until he/she has passed all the licensing exams and registered with their corresponding state.) Similar to other licensed professionals, Architects adhere to a code of ethics and life safety, annual continuing education credits are required and an Architect must be in good standing to renew their license annually.

My firm practices under the traditional role of an Architect. My extensive experience and negotiation skills working with multi-million dollar heathcare, commercial, hospitality, industrial and high end residential projects has been instrumental in the success of my client’s projects. Curious to know how an Architect can help you? I provide consultations on an hourly basis at your convenience. This is the best next step into making your next project a reality.