The thought of working with a Long Beach architect can be both exciting and unsettling. It’s exciting because it means you are entering the first phase of the process that will lead to your new or improved residential or commercial space. It can be unsettling because you may not know what to expect—especially if you’ve never worked with an architect before.
While it’s expected that you won’t know everything about the process before you have your first phone call or meeting with a Long Beach architect, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Have a Realistic Timeline
When it comes to working with an architect, most people vastly underestimate the amount of time it will take from the initial meeting until building can commence. It can take several months for plans to be drawn up and approved—even longer if you live in an historic district, in an area with a hillside ordinance, or in an area that is under the jurisdiction of the Coastal Commission.
A Long Beach architect should be able to provide you with a realistic timeline early on, but don’t shoot the messenger, as they say, when he or she tells you the design and approval process could take multiple months—or even more than a year.
Learn more about how long the architectural design process takes in Long Beach, CA.
Have a Realistic Budget
Just about anyone going through a building or remodeling project has concerns about costs. It is the rare client who says, “Price is no object!” While it isn’t possible to know exactly what a project will cost before you get started, it’s good to have a general idea before meeting with an architect. Most of the time, clients vastly underestimate the fees involved with having a space designed and permitted. A good rule of thumb is to budget an extra 10-15% on top of your anticipated building costs for your architectural design and permitting fees.
Come in with a Good Grasp of What You Need (or Don’t Need)
Architects go through a lot of schooling and training to become experts in design and space planning. In general, they know how to design a cohesive space that has a good flow. They know how to design within various styles of architecture and produce attractive homes and commercial spaces.
But they aren’t mind readers. They don’t know what you need or want until you tell them.
If you are looking at doing a major home remodel, take the time to really think about what areas of your home cause you frustration or keep you from living the way you want to in your home. Be specific with your architect. Simply saying, “We need more space,” is not particularly helpful. Instead, provide your architect with specific issues that you encounter that cause you to need more space, such as, “Our dining room is too small for the type of entertaining we like to do,” or “We need a dedicated home office now that we are working from home.”
With tenant improvement projects, it’s important to help your architect understand what your business needs in order to be successful, as far as space is concerned. Do your employees need private offices in which they can focus or lots of open space in which to collaborate? Do you use any special equipment that needs a dedicated home? What about a formal meeting space, like a conference room? Do clients or customers often come to your place of business, and if so, what types of accommodations do they expect or need?
It isn’t necessary for you to come to the table with specific ideas to solve the issues with your home or commercial space—although many Long Beach architects welcome client input—but providing your architect with specific issues that need addressing or a detailed list of “must-haves” for your space will be incredibly helpful and go a long way toward ensuring you end up with a space that works best for you.