If Your Home Could Speak

Three reasons you should have an architect

When you decide to build your house there are several options for design services. For some people, there are thousands of sites offering plans online.

Of course, in most cases those plans would not have been designed for this climate or with reference to our Building Code, but it is attractive to get what looks like good drawings on the cheap and arrange for them to be amended and approved. Or to borrow your friend’s plans, get a new site plan done and submit for a permit. Or have plans drawn by a draftsman. Or you can find and hire an architect. Here are three reasons we believe having an architect is the best option.


The layout of your house is important. First of all, the layout of your house must fit your particular lifestyle. For example, it must mirror your attitude towards formality or casualness. It must address views and the need for privacy. It should protect the interior from the heat of the low sun and allow the cooling breezes to ventilate the house. And it must address the peculiarities of your site. These are standard concerns for an architect.

The permit process

The law requires that only registered architects can submit an application for a building permit. In other words, the people who give permission to build recognize that the safe design of a building requires the coordination of many important considerations. The designer must coordinate adherence to the subdivision rules (building use, setbacks etc.), building ventilation, plumbing and electrical design and structural integrity. Following the issuance of the permit, the architect may also be useful in coordinating the issuance of the Occupancy Certificate.

The construction phase

Many people think they can save money by managing the construction process themselves. Or worse, by asking the builder to manage the project for them. After all, what could go wrong?

The first thing to remember is that in the relationship with the builder there are two parties to the agreement, however it is made. While the builder is an expert and knows where the cost and time issues are, most clients do not. That could possibly place you at a costly disadvantage. Building a house without an architect is like going to court without a lawyer.

The very first item for which advice is critical is developing the Construction Contract, the document that defines the agreement with respect to both time and money. It should define the way changes are to be agreed and priced, how time will be controlled or extended and how payments are to be made. In short, it must lay out both what you expect and what the builder expects in the relationship.

Finally, during the construction process, the architect administers the contract on your behalf, negotiating changes, extensions of time, payments to the builder and, finally, helping to agree on the final account.

You may have noticed that the question of what the building should look like has not been discussed. Sustainable design service is not confined to appearance, but to the understanding of the translation of your ideal idea for your house into block and mortar with running water and lights. Keeping the person that understands that translation involved is key to the enjoyment of the final product.

Architectural fees are often compared to the cost of “getting drawings done”, or using one of the other options cited above. It is perhaps more correct to compare them to the cost of unnecessary increases in building cost and living with a house that does not meet your needs.

• Patrick Rahming & Associates is a full-service design firm providing architectural, planning and design services throughout The Bahamas and the northern Caribbean. Visit its website at www.pradesigns.com, design blog at https://rahmblings.wordpress.com and like its Facebook page. The firm can be contacted by phone at 356-9080 or by email at pradesigns@yahoo.com or prahming@gmail.com. The firm’s mission is to help clients turn their design problems into completed projects through a process of guided decision-making, responsible environmental advice and expert project administration.

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button