"Ahh, the ongoing love-hate relationshop between architect and designer ...
"I don't know one kitchen deisnger that wants to create a mausoleum of a kitchen that is out of proportion with the structure of the house. If anything, I think both architect and kitchen designer would ... agree that we see a client sometimes wanting a design that pays no respect to the integrity of the home's size, style, or fabric of the neighborhood. The challenge is to get the client onboard with a design that respects the aforementioned.
"I have a great deal of respect for what architects [do], and would like to say I keep an open mind with each job. But I too have had negative experiences with architects when it comes to their hand in the kitchen design ... The dimensions are too loose and, if built as shown in the architect's plans, create major drawbacks with respect to cabinet function and space planning..." -- Laurie Burke, kitchen designer
"... Architects also 'fudge' elevation drawings. They draw existing windows, and other fixed architectural elements, as well as new items like cabinets and appliances, in such a way as to make them look 'balanced' and symmetrical, when they are really now. They LIE!" -- Peggy Deras, CKD, CID
"Good critque of architects, but I doubt we're ALL liars.
"As an architect, then architect-contractor, I have designed and built kitchens (my own included), that have been published an garnered awards. The old carpenter adage: 'Measure twice, cut once' is never more appropriate than in kitchen design." -- John Rohosky, AIA, architect
The excerpts above are part of a June 2007 discussion on kitchen designer Peggy Deras' blog, http://kitchen-exchange.blogspot.com/.
Although the bloggers are kitchen designers and architects, the same discussion could just as well have occurred between remodelers and architects. In the traditional (as opposed to design/build) relationship comprising architect, remodeler, and homeowner, there can be distrust that the measurements won't be correct, that the quoted estimate is way off, that either the builder or the architect will try to take control of the project.
But it doesn't have to be that way. If remodelers “get involved in the beginning, it makes a big difference to the likelihood of a project's success,” says Kevin Collins, owner of Collins-Kiessig General Contractors in Englewood, Colo.
Like most relationships, it all comes down to good communication.
BUDGET EARLY AND OFTEN Depending on the state in which a project is being done, rules about architect services vary. But in general, job size, cost, and client wishes will dictate architect participation.
The usual scenario: A homeowner goes to an architect to design a project. At some point before, during, or after schematic drawings, a few contractors are called in to bid the job. One is chosen and the project moves forward. Occasionally a homeowner will contact a remodeler before finding an architect.
The first critical juncture — a likely spot to butt heads — is with estimating and budgeting. One complaint among remodelers is that architects don't know the real costs of constructing their designs. But the best architects read remodeling and building trade journals, and spend time at trade and professional shows such as the Remodeling Show, International Builders' Show, and Kitchen/Bath Industry Show.
“I spend an enormous amount of time researching projects and looking at new products,” says architect Doug Walter, who works with about 20 remodelers on a fairly regular basis doing mostly high-end residential work in the Denver area. Walter believes in team-building and a collaborative relationship with the remodelers he works with. He is hands-on with his designs and stays with a project from drawing to punch list.
For their part, the remodeler can and should be on hand to educate the architect and help develop the budget. But there is a right and a wrong way to go about it. “A lot of remodelers will come in like Superman and say, ‘I can save you 25% on this thing,' and then change all the specs.” It's better to “gently help the budgeting process without trying to grandstand and take complete control,” Walter says.
“We work with the architect at the beginning to cost-engineer,” says Fred Ahlert, owner of Consolidated Construction Management in Denver, who often partners with Walter. “We come in at the start of the project. They'll do the schematic and ballpark, and we'll look at the plans as they're being completed.” On a recent project, Ahlert says, “the engineer called for a cut roof, framed on site. We were able to have our crew do it with trusses and save quite a bit of money.”