So, you’ve decided you want to build your dream home or remodel your current home in Long Beach. You probably already know that hiring a Long Beach architect should be one of your first steps as you plan for and dream about what your finished home will look like. But which architect should you hire? Should you go with an established architecture firm, or would an independent architect suffice?
No matter who you hire, the most important thing to consider in a Long Beach architect or architecture firm is experience.
Every architect in California has gone through a good amount of training and schooling. In addition, all architects must be licensed by the California Architects Board. (Anyone calling himself or herself an “architect” who is not licensed could actually be fined and/or imprisoned.) So, in a sense, every Long Beach architect could claim to be “experienced.”
Wise homeowners should look beyond this most basic level of experience, however, and seek out a Long Beach architect with a good number of projects under his or her belt that vary in style and scope. An experienced architect should be able to design a home in any style you choose and not be limited to a certain design aesthetic.
An experienced architect will also have a good understanding of common building codes that are applicable to home remodels and new home builds in Long Beach. If you hire a less experienced architect, you may be paying for him or her to “learn on the job” while they conduct code research for your project.
With experienced architects, you also often get the benefit of working with their local network of reputable outside contractors, such as structural engineers and Title 24 specialists. These outside professionals can help move your project along in a timely manner and ensure all the technical calculations and details get handled right the first time. Mark Grisafe of Grisafe Architecture in Long Beach had this to say about using quality, local professionals on his projects,
On a few occasions, our Long Beach architecture firm has tried working with online and overseas service companies to help keep costs down for our clients. However, in our experience, we found that there is no substitution for the high-quality, personalized service that you can get from local contractors. There’s just something to be said for being able to pick up the phone and ask one of our long-time consultants or engineers, ‘Can you meet me at the site on Wednesday to help me come up with a workaround to an existing site condition that the general contractor has come across?’ And because of the tight relationships we’ve formed with our local contractors, they can almost always accommodate our requests. You can’t get that type of service from someone who lives an ocean away and that you’ve only communicated with via email.”
An experienced architect won’t always give you exactly what you want—and that’s a good thing! Yes, you are the one paying for the architect’s services, but you are paying them for their expertise, not to simply be a “yes man.” A good architect will tell you why the thing you want is not a great idea. A great architect will then work with you to come up with a new idea that will accomplish the same goal, but in a way that makes more sense or that will be approved by city building officials.