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  • Writer's picturePhillips & Donovan Architects, LLC

Commercial Renovation: When Do I Need An Architect?

Many business and building owners ask themselves if they really need an architect when they are not creating an entire building. "If I'm just renovating, why do I need an architect?", they may wonder. The reality is that an architect is an invaluable asset to have on your team for any building changes that are undertaken. Many times an architect is required by the state to go over the safety of planned work for a project. Employing an architect can help ensure that proposed changes meet applicable building codes. Having an architect on your renovation team can often save you money as well. Architects can work out problems that might arise on paper and come up with solutions before any construction gets underway, saving money that might have had to go toward fixing issues that could have been avoided. Trust and work with your architect to ensure the best results for your construction goals. So when exactly do you need an architect? How do you determine the answer to this question?

An architect is necessary when construction costs are high, somewhere around $25,000 or higher. A higher price tag on construction costs usually means more drastic changes to the building being worked on. More changes are more likely to affect the building's safety and integrity. An architect will evaluate the hidden dangers of any proposed changes and suggest alternative changes for those that would negatively affect the safety of the space. Particularly, they will look at things such as fire safety and be able to see if the design complies with applicable building codes and requirements for your project's jurisdiction.

Architects are valuable team assets when proposed changes will structurally affect the space being worked on. Any changes to foundations, columns, or bearing walls need to be evaluated by an architect. It is also a good idea to include a structural engineer on your team for these types of changes, as both the architect and structural engineer can make sure that any changes being made are carried out safely and will keep the structural integrity of the building intact. Often, a good architect can recommend reliable structural engineers and may even have working relationships with some who can consult on your proposed changes.

An architect is also needed when your renovation requires you to submit for a building permit. Many jurisdictions require scaled, hard-lined plans to review. An architect can provide these for you as well as obtain the necessary code summaries, occupancy classifications, life safety element information, and all the other information necessary for the issuance of a building permit. An architect will know what the code reviewer is looking for and go over the plans to help with compliance with local building codes before they are sent for review. Your architect will help you get the permits quickly so that your project can get underway as soon as possible.

Working with an architect can make the process of renovation smoother. They are here to help you design and create spaces best suited to your needs and your budget while keeping those spaces free from recognized hazards. Architects will allow you to make the most of the space you are renovating and to create an environment that gives you peace of mind and that you will enjoy being in.

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