Home, Garage and Shed Builders in Chesapeake VA

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Building a new home or addition starts with big aspirations and is frequently tempered by the reality that money is, in fact, an object, and the dream home has to come to earth eventually.

For many new homeowners, this is the first time they’ve ever worked with an architect, and that can be intimidating.

In this article we’ll take you through the steps of finding and vetting an architect for your new home, garage, or shed.

While these structures don’t seem fully analogous, and they aren’t, there are many things they have in common during the design and building process. 

Design

To begin with, we should cover some basic principles of design that will dictate what kind of plans you’ll end up with and what architects might work the best to help you draft them. First of all, you’ll want to decide on the overall style of your structure. If it’s a new home, other homes in the area will give you an idea of what works or doesn’t in your neighborhood. You probably don’t want to be the homeowner building a classic Spanish Revival home on a block that’s only populated by Cape Codders. Whatever the structure is, take a good, honest inventory of what your new structure needs to store. If it’s a home, that’s going to include all of your furniture, people, and pets, as well as whatever growth you hope for your family in the time you plan to spend in the house. Think about your long-term goals. If they include new family members or a work-from-home business, you may need more space than you think. ​

If you’re looking to build a garage, shed, or other outbuilding, you’ll probably want to match the style of the existing home. Some things to look out for: are the building materials still available? Do you like the style of the home, or do you plan to modify it substantially at some point down the road? What will the visibility of your structure be like from the street? Your architect or draftsman will need to know the answers to these questions to make sure your new building flows seamlessly with the existing architecture. 

Finding Candidates

For homes, your choice in architect is much wider than any other structure. If you’re buying from a pre-planned community, you’ll have plans to choose from, but if you’re starting from scratch, the world is your oyster. The other side of that coin, though, is that you may have more choices than you can reasonably narrow down. Asking friends and relatives might be helpful, but if none of them have experience recently, it can just as easily be frustrating. In this case, ask local contractors and builders, as well as interior decorators who come highly recommended to you. These professionals will have working relationships with architects, and will generally only vouch for people whose work they trust and whom they find easy to work with. ​

For sheds and garages, you may be able to get away with using an experienced designer or draftsman. This is someone who has learned the skill of drafting building plans, but for any number of reasons, has not become certified as an architect. For unattached outbuildings, in particular, the plans are frequently simple enough that you might not need to pay the surcharge an architect will command for the title alone. Find these professionals through recommendations, as above, or trade magazines and publications in your area. 

Narrowing It Down
 
Once you have a pool of potential candidates, your next task is to weed out the ones that aren’t a good fit for your project. For an initial pare-down, the following questions are helpful.
 

  • Do you have experience with this particular style? Whatever your structure, and whatever style you choose, you are going to want someone who is familiar with that particular type of job. Do some research before you go on similar styles and time periods so that if you find the perfect candidate, but they don’t have your exact style in their portfolio, you can easily check to see if they’ve done something similar before that could be adapted.
  • What are your fees and how do you schedule your payments? This might seem a little blunt to ask as the second question, but really, once you’ve figured out if someone can do the work you need from them, it only makes sense to find out if you can afford to pay them for that work. There’s no use wasting either of your time on further questions if the payment policies don’t work for you.
  • What are some potential delays or hiccups I might expect on this project? A good architect can predict where things might go wrong and will let you know in advance. For instance, if a certain type of foundation isn’t suitable for your particular design request, but that’s a common one in your area due to drainage conditions or weather, the architect should be able to let you know that upfront, before they ever put pencil to drafting paper.
  • What is the timeframe for a job of this size? At what point during that process will I be able to take plans to my financial institution for my loan application? Will you be able to be involved in construction oversight? If so, which parts, and what is your schedule like? These questions will give you some insight into how involved you can expect your architect to be and how responsive they are to your scheduling needs.

 
Working with a professional and experienced architect is a wonderful, enlightening experience in how good design can open up possibilities for your home or structure that you didn’t even know existed. This possibility is what you’re looking for, so you’ll have to take time during the selection process to weed out any candidate who doesn’t offer that. In the end, though, when your structure is completed and exactly what you envisioned, it will be worth it.