Thursday, December 9, 2021

What is an architect?



Hector C. Fernandez

So you may be asking yourself; “What is an Architect?” “What do they do?”, “Do I need one for my project?” Let me start by providing some background on what an Architect is and the services they provide.

Architects have been with us for a very long time. The role of the Architect traditionally has been to act as the creator or designer of ideas for all kinds of buildings, structures, dwellings, bridges and even entire cities and towns. In today’s modern world the Architect’s role has become much more diverse and encompasses a broader range of technical aspects. The modern Architect still plays the principal role of the creator or designer of an idea as well as the person that executes the drawings or instructions that the builder will use to build that idea. However, modern day Architects work much closer with a broader group of team members and consultants such as Engineers and General Contractors, depending on the complexity of a project, to see the project thru.

So you may ask yourself “When do I need the services of an Architect?” Although admittedly I am somewhat biased and do believe that any construction or remodeling project would greatly benefit from the input and involvement of an Architect, let me paraphrase what the State of Florida says on the matter:

“An Architect is required on any project that is intended to be used for human habitation or human use including but not limited to multi family buildings commercial buildings industrial buildings etc.”

Although an architect is not required for single-family homes duplexes or townhouses it is strongly recommended that one be used. In fact many municipalities have stricter guidelines and ordinances that do require the use of an Architect for the design of all structures, including those exempt by the State of Florida. Make sure to check with your local Building Department and Zoning and Planning Departments.

So if you’re thinking of remodeling or perhaps you want to undertake building that dream home, I strongly urge you to seek out the services of a licensed Florida Architect. Some of the immediate benefits of using an Architect for the design of your new home would include an original custom design that is exclusively developed for your needs and tailored to your tastes. Another advantage is that you have the security of working with a licensed professional in the state of Florida that is backing up their design and coordinating that design with the builder. By using an Architect the client is assured that a professional will oversee all aspects of construction and ensure that the highest level of quality is maintained at all times without compromise to design or cost.

The cost of an Architect is typically a very reasonable percentage of the overall cost of the project. Logically your next question may be: “How much will an Architect’s services cost me?” Good question, but it does not always have a one-size fits all answer. It is important to understand that costs vary from project to project depending on size, location, complexity and details.

Typically for residential design the Architect will base their fee using one of two industry standard methods. First one will be based on a percentage of the assume cost of construction. Typically that percentage ranges anywhere from 5% to 10% in the South Florida area. Another method is a simple price per square foot calculation. Again this typically can range from $5 to $10 per square foot depending on the projects’ complexity and the level of detail required. Services in either scenario will include the design of the home as well as the execution of the technical drawings that will include structural engineering, electrical engineering, plumbing engineering and site design.

With detailed drawings of the design in hand a client can submit for a building permit and can also seek prices from various contractors on the cost to build the design. In some cases the Architect may also be a licensed contractor who can provide full and complete “design build” services to the client. Think of this as a “One Stop Shop” type scenario. In my experience I have found this to be a very successful business model for clients to use.

I hope I’ve helped shed a little bit light on what an Architect’s role is and what they can do for you on your next project. I hope you will consider contacting an Architect before you undertake your next remodeling or design project. Remember projects first start with a great idea.

There are some great resources for those of you out there who may be looking for an Architect. You may want to contact either the local or state chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for a list of licensed architect in your area. You can also visit the State of Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to verify an Architects’ license and to make sure that they are in good standing with the State of Florida.

So remember after you’ve dealt with your realtor and before you call a builder… “Ask an Architect.”;;; .


Hector C. Fernandez, AIA, can be reached at, or by calling 239-330-8124.

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