How to find an architect for a home addition?
Finding an architect for your home addition may require even more searching than finding a “regular” architect. You’d be surprised how many decisions just one architectural process entails – in fact, the average home construction project entails about 1000 decisions! It’s the architect’s job to make the questions less stressful to you, but you can help the process along by being familiarizing yourself with the decisions being made:
What should I look for in a home addition architect?
You want to make sure you and your architect are on the same page: with budget, design style, and what’s a priority: what’s the addition’s use (a living quarters or just proving extra space?), what’s the style (will it blend in with the current style, or stand on its own?), and what are the building restrictions and permits necessary in your jurisdiction?
Questions to discuss with your architect (or to consider yourself before seeking an architect out):
What’s the use for your home addition?
- Add bedrooms or guest quarters
- Add another floor
- Expand on a current bedroom to create a larger master “suite”
- Add entertainment rooms – dining, living, playrooms, a gym
- Shield the existing property from natural elements, such as winds and rain/snow
Is the addition’s style deferential to the current structure, or will it be in contrast?
Perhaps you want to reorient and open up living spaces to views and light with glass and windows that deviates from the original structure – or maybe you simply want to add a new wing without anyone even knowing it wasn’t part of the original structure.
In which direction will the home addition be built, and will it be attached?
There are 3 structural options for home additions:
- Separate entirely (like a pavilion or guesthouse): because this is a disconnect from the previous shape of the building and doesn’t require the rooves to meet, you have the most freedom to create a contrasting style from the original structure. Many architects will borrow elements from the original structure, such as a material palette and/or matching stones, in order to tie both structures together. The addition can stand entirely on its own, or be connected by a walk-through or passage, such as a covered hallway.
- Horizontal extension; such as adding a wing: for actual space expansion, horizontal extensions are generally the preferred way to go, as long as the property’s square footage allows for it.
Horizontal extensions can mimic existing architecture or be starkly different, but will almost always have a smooth, connecting roofline with proportional structure. Keep in mind, if you want the addition to match the existing structure as if it was originally built that way, that’s fine, too!
- Vertical extensions (adding a floor): used most often to gain space without additional foundation and expansion costs. Upward extensions seek to increase headroom, floor area, and view access, especially in areas with nice views (such as near parks, forests, and/or bodies of water). In fact, upward expansion in these areas can often more than pay for themselves with increased home value. Vertical expansions can also be used to entirely renovate an interior by making it more of an open-air, loft-like atmosphere.
Keep in mind that conversions are considered additions too:
- Convert basement to functional room
- Convert garage to a functional room
- Convert attic space to a dormer
- Convert a porch to a sunroom or any other type of room (such as a well-lit dining or living room)
Finding the right home addition architect for you:
After you’ve determined what style, type, and use for your home addition, voice your style, budget, and vision to your architect. If you don’t know any of these, tell the architect – he or she will help you determine these, so that you’re both on the same page!
Note: If you’re budgeting, request from your architect plans that are already made that roughly fit your vision, and simply need to be tweaked for measurements – these changes, billed hourly, tend to be a lot less than the cost of drawing plans from scratch (of course, with additions, it’s more common to require starting from scratch as a result of needing to fit to an existing structure).
Make sure you like the architect’s work by looking at a number of the architect’s projects – not just a few! Ask for references and actually call them.
When possible, go local: a local architect will be most familiar with building codes in your municipality.
Choosing an architect for your home project is just as important as choosing a doctor…it’s likely that, if you’re willing to invest this money in your home, that you’re seeking another decade (at least) of living in it (so you better like it)! Or, if you’re seeking an addition to increase the value of your home, you want to be just as careful in choosing the right architect, as he/she will be the one that essentially establishes the value of the addition.