Architecture is a mysterious profession.  Often depicted in films, the Architect is portrayed as an elusive creative figure dressed in black sitting behind a drafting table in a converted factory and living in modern glass house.  Although a creative profession, Architecture combines not only the art but the science of building and construction. Architects meet rigorous education requirements.  They are required to pass several licensing exams, obtain a certificate of practice and complete ongoing and intensive continuing education.  Architects are licensed by the Ontario Association of Architects to prepare plans for the construction of all buildings.  They are trained to solve complicated problems addressing the needs of the owner, the resources available, the restrictions of legal regulations, the selection of appropriate materials and design of energy efficient structures. As licensed professionals they must protect the health, safety and welfare of the public, coordinating the multiple parts and systems in buildings making them safe for their inhabitants.  Trained in art and design, the professional practice of architecture encompasses historic, cultural, technical and aesthetic considerations. Architects work closely with their clients to understand their needs, desires and resources, to develop a plan that adds value to their investment.  An Architect can work with you to evaluate a new site or an existing house, measure and prepare plans and coordinate the building and construction.  The most important distinction to remember is that an Architect will design your project to the site environment – to take advantage of the best aspects of your location and eliminate or minimize the less desirable aspects of your site.  There is Art in Architecture – it is not about a cookie cutter or one size fits all approach to design. An Architect is your conduit to developing your dreams and desires into a finished project.   Throughout the design process, your Architect works with you in a step-by-step process starting with the larger design issues and moving toward detailed construction drawings and specifications.  An Architect will guide you through the planning, design and construction to arrive at a solution that reflects your needs and desires, maintains the design integrity, acknowledges your budget, and ensures that you receive the best value for your investment. An Architect’s initial work focuses on identifying the homeowner’s vision, goals and priorities.  Depending on the homeowner’s needs and the scale of the project, Architects are also trained to research codes, zoning and building requirements, make recommendations on soils testing and coordinate surveys. Site planning can be a significant consideration or focus on a very specific aspect including light, views, drainage, landscaping, and privacy.  Typically, projects go through the following phases. 1          The Development of the Design Brief The homeowner and Architect discuss the requirements for the project (how many rooms, the function of the spaces, etc.), testing the fit between the owner’s needs, wants, and budget. 2          Schematic Design/Rough Sketches The Architect prepares a series of rough sketches, known as schematic designs, which show the general arrangement of rooms and of the building on the site. Some Architects also prepare models or computer images to help visualize the project. The homeowner approves these sketches before proceeding to the next phase. 3          Design Drawings The Architect prepares more detailed drawings to illustrate other aspects of the proposed design.  Floor plans show all the rooms in correct size and shape. Outline specifications are prepared listing the major materials and room finishes. 4          Preparation of Construction Documents Once the homeowner has approved the design, the Architect prepares detailed drawings and specifications, which the contractor will use to establish actual construction cost and build the project. These drawings and specifications become part of the building contract. 5          Construction Management The Architect can assist the homeowner in making sure that the project is built according to the plans and specifications. The Architect can make site visits to observe construction, review and approve the builders progress and payments, and generally keep the homeowner informed of the project’s progress. The Architect’s services are an investment, not an added cost.  An Architect creates not only functional environments but strives for something more – the ability to enrich and transform your life – through great design.  The true power of Architecture can never be underestimated and the skill and the experience of an Architect should never be undermined or undervalued. Let us design your dream – Contact us today to get started!