Do I Need an Architect in NJ

When considering an addition to your house you’re going to have a lot of questions. And that’s completely normal. Putting on an addition is not something you do everyday. Most people don’t do it more than once in a lifetime. Two of the biggest questions about home addition projects are Do I need an architect? and Why do I need an architect?

Here are some points that you need to take into account while planning your addition project and deciding if you really do need an architect or not.

New Jersey Laws Need to Be Considered
According to New Jersey law, all projects involving construction, enlargement, repair, renovation, alteration, reconstruction, or demolishment to a structure requires first filing an application with the local township construction official in writing and obtaining the required construction permit that is issued by the township.

Plus, according to New Jersey law, any application for a construction permit for a single family residence shall be accompanied by at least two copies of drawing plans to show the nature and character of the work to be performed. The drawings need to be prepared by a state-licensed and registered professional architect or engineer and must bear the signature and seal of said professional.

Do I Need An Architect If I Have A Good Contractor?
Good contractors are skilled with physical construction and management of labor, materials, construction cost and schedule. Many experienced contractors have good individual design ideas, what finish to use on this floor, what exterior siding to use on the front of the house, what light fixture to hang in the foyer. The architect, however, will use materials as an across-the-board, full wardrobe and will select and coordinate them based on the sentiment of choosing quality rather than quantity.

What About Using A Structural Engineer?
Structural engineers are very skilled at design of the “skeleton” of a building, but it is not too common that their services are sought for the design of general building style or spatial organization, which is what an architect’s work includes.

What Differentiates Architects From Contractors And Structural Engineers?
What differentiates architects from contractors and structural engineers is their ability to apply a universal approach to thought and design through all aspects and stages of a project.

Here are some examples. Placement of one window on the second floor affects another window below it on the first floor, leaving a better impression on the mind when they are aligned. Aligning the windows together may adversely affect one window’s placement in relation to the space it is serving; so, adjustment of the space may be required, and its adjacent space, and on and on until the architect can get it to reach a resolving termination. The architect’s experience of working with the spaces individually as well as together is the uniqueness that he brings to the project.

The content of the soil in the earth under the house will eventually determine the size of the very highest beam at the top of the roof, which will determine the ceiling height and, in turn, psychological perception of a space, as height versus width and length are considered.

The bane of Jack-and-Jill bathrooms: two bedrooms occupied by children each with a door into a shared bathroom is a ticking time bomb for sibling battle when you consider that eventually the door of room A is going to be left locked by occupant of room B, upsetting room A occupant, who has to go around to room B and flip the bird before going into the bathroom. A kitchen island with a sink should not be placed directly across from the range. Staggering the sink and range, even slightly, is not as tiring to the cook.

Can’t I Just Do It Myself?
Home design software and DIY weekend endeavors fall short of the full potential of a great architecture project. Positioned in the market to save the homeowner money, in part, by omitting the services of an architect, it also omits the value an architect’s experience adds to a project.

A good architect will include in the architectural drawings everything the homeowner wants, but will also provide concepts and insight that wouldn’t have been considered otherwise, making the project better developed and more rewarding and enjoyable for the homeowner and ultimately establishing greater resale value.

Good architects are skilled at listening to their customers. What the homeowner wants to do and can do, is the architect’s challenge to make happen and in the quickest, most cost effective, and creatively smart way possible. The homeowner’s words are the directive; the homeowner wants to be heard and the resulting spaces and buildings are a testament to the fact that the homeowner was heard. The architect ushers in that result.

Communication With Your Contractor Is Crucial
The bridge from the homeowner’s mouth to the contractor’s hammer is the architect’s work together with the town’s approvals. The architect’s drawings are legal documents that represent graphically and in text what the homeowner wants to do. The drawings are also instructions for what the homeowner wants the contractor to build and they show the standard building and safety code requirements sought by the state. The architect’s drawings are meant to facilitate and legitimize that dialogue between homeowner and contractor. The bonus points the architect adds to the project are the ideas and concepts that take the homeowner’s directive to an elevated level. If a wife wants her husband to make a chicken dinner for the kids, from what source is the recipe that she gives him? Tyson Food Inc. or Julia Child?

Rules And Regulations In New Jersey Vary Widely
State safety and building code requirements are written to protect the general public and act in the public’s best interest. The state defers interpretation and enforcement of the codes to local authorities that preside over projects being constructed; in other words, the township building department has the final say on what is being built in town.

Building officials differ from township to township in their interpretation of the codes; there is never unanimity. They each tend to look for specific issues, never all issues, when reviewing drawings and inspecting construction progress. While some look for barrier-free accessibility (handicap access) omissions from a design, others may be more concerned with ample insulation in the exterior walls, and others are concerned with the design of the exterior light fixtures and that they are circuited separately from the rest of the house. When asked if there is concern with one issue about which an inspector had not previously been concerned with, he or she will voice the affirmative, as opinion is now on record.

Many homeowners make the mistake of going straight to a builder when adding another room to their house. While hiring a builder is an important part of your room addition process, as mentioned above, it should never occur before a consultation with an architect. An experienced architect will formulate plans that will help you get the most out of your room addition. They’ll take every consideration into account and save you time, money, and frustration. We’ve given you some logistical things to consider when deciding if you want an architect or not, and now we want to tell you three main reasons WHY having an architect will make such a big difference for your NJ home addition.

  1. Your addition will complement your house
    You want your new room to fit like a puzzle piece with the rest of your house. One of the great things about hiring an architect is they’re able to be creative when creating your home addition plans. At your initial consultation, you’ll be able to share your ideas, goals, and desires. Your architect will know exactly what to do to help you. The following types of models can be used:
    • A custom design. A design that the architect creates specifically for you. Every detail is focused towards meeting your goals and giving you the perfect new room.
    • A stock design. Stock designs are extremely useful because they’re proven to work. Your architect will be able to show you a variety of stock designs. An experienced architect will be able to show you before-and-after stock-design photos of room additions to homes that are similar to yours.

Once you make your decision, sample home addition plans and blueprints will be created. Everything you want will be included in the plans and blueprints so you won’t be surprised when your room addition is completed. You also won’t have to worry about someone saying something can’t be done because you’ll have assurance from your architect that what you want is possible.

  1. You’ll receive help and advice
    No one knows the home-building industry better than an architect. Your architect will be able to give you contractor and structural-engineer recommendations. They’ll also be able to give you invaluable help and advice during your room-addition process. The following are some of the ways how your architect will help:
    • Stop in and check to see how work is progressing
    • Answer any questions your contractor or structural engineer has
    • Work with you if you want to make changes

This type of team approach ensures everything lines up properly and is completed on time. It also gives you peace of mind and eliminates frustration.

  1. You’ll save money in numerous ways
    An architect provides the leadership necessary to carry out a room addition in a timely, reasonable, and professional manner. Home addition plans and blueprints are created so contractors know exactly what to do. Time and money are never wasted. Additionally, your architect will incorporate things that will increase the resale value of your home into your room addition. Your new room will increase your home’s market value and will be very attractive to potential buyers. In this regard, an architect knows how to get the very most out of a room addition.

Choosing to hire an architect for your NJ home addition has many positives in terms of logistical things with your city, communication with a contractor and saving you time and money in the long run. With a New Jersey architect, leadership will be provided to help you and your contractor complete the home addition plans as you envision. Your finished room addition will add to the look and feel of your house and you’ll save money in numerous ways. Your decision to meet with an architect will undoubtedly be the best you make in your room-addition process.

If you have any questions about your NJ home addition or if you’d like to speak with a professional architect, please contact us today.