The American Institute of Architects, founded in 1857, is a professional organization of more than 79,000 licensed architects and associated professionals. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with nearly 300 state and local chapters worldwide, the AIA helps to build public awareness of architecture and supports the practice of architecture. In addition to meeting the professional standards for licensure to practice architecture, AIA members adhere to the AIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, assuring clients, the public, and colleagues of their dedication to high standards of professional practice. AIA members must also fulfill annual continuing education requirements to maintain their professional standing and stay current in the profession.
Most homeowners dream of either building their “perfect” home or remodeling their existing home in a way that dramatically changes how they live; a once-in-a-lifetime interior or exterior facelift. Licensed by the state to practice architecture, architects are the only professionals with the education, training, experience, and vision to not only maximize your dollars, but also manage all aspects of your project from the beginning stages through the final construction. Calling in a qualified AIA architect is a sure-fire way to get the project off the ground, bringing you one step closer to your dream home.
Anyone can alter a building; but not just anyone can alter a building with character, style, and imagination. An appealing design, improved functionality, and quality detailing all increase your property’s value. An AIA architect will work with you in great depth, tailoring the design to suit your personality, needs, budget, and lifestyle. They help to create an environment, not just a room with four walls.
An AIA architect can help you get the most bang for your buck by recommending specific materials and systems that fit within your budget, suggesting quality builders, even finding extra light and space you didn’t realize you had. Good design and planning can go a long way in helping you reap considerable long-term benefits.
It’s not easy trying to find a balance between function, aesthetics, economics, the environment, health and safety, and regulations and procedures. AIA architects, though, are trained to see the big picture, taking into account the many different aspects that go into good design. They know the industry inside and out, and they understand the regulations and obligations that come with planning and building to code. They can also help you prepare the documents needed to acquire various permits. “Our members provide design expertise, information, and value to their clients while protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public,” says Jon Buggy, president, AIA Minnesota. Good architects will make sure a building is safely designed, and will last for many, many years.
AIA architects work hard to represent you and protect your best interests. They review project materials and construction methods, and will act as your analyst, adviser, and intermediary. You make the decisions, but they make sure you have the information you need to make informed decisions. If a problem should arise, your architect will help you find a solution without compromising the design, your needs, or your wallet.
When a tornado ripped through North Minneapolis last spring, damaging over 3,000 homes, local AIA members launched an initiative called “Rebuilding it Right,” providing free design/architectural assistance to homeowners. The initiative was a compassionate response to recapture and solidify the beautiful, historic architecture present in the neighborhood, allow for greener technologies, and help homeowners on an individual basis who might not otherwise contact an architect. Over 60 AIA architects volunteered their services. Many AIA architects feel it’s important to volunteer their time, energy, and talents to the community.
Design and construction projects involve several steps. Typically, projects go through the following six phases. However, on some projects several of these steps may be combined or there may be additional ones.
The homeowner and architect discuss the requirements for the project (how many rooms, the function of the spaces, etc.), testing the fit between the owner’s needs, wants, and budget.
The architect prepares a series of rough sketches, known as schematic designs, which show the general arrangement of rooms and of the building on the site. Some architects also prepare models to help visualize the project. The homeowner approves these sketches before proceeding to the next phase.
The architect prepares more detailed drawings to illustrate other aspects of the proposed design. Floor plans show all the rooms in correct size and shape. Outline specifications are prepared listing the major materials and room finishes.
Once the homeowner has approved the design, the architect prepares detailed drawings and specifications, which the contractor will use to establish actual construction cost and build the project. These drawings and specifications become part of the building contract.
The homeowner selects and hires the contractor. The architect may be willing to assist in making some recommendations. In many cases, homeowners choose from among several contractors they’ve asked to submit bids on the job. The architects can help you prepare bidding documents as well as invitations to bid and instructions to bidders.
While the contractor will physically build the home or addition, the architect can assist the homeowner in making sure that the project is built according to the plans and specifications. The architect can make site visits to observe construction, review and approve the contractor’s application for payment, and generally keep the homeowner informed of the project’s progress. The contractor is solely responsible for construction methods, techniques, schedules, and procedures.