Which Type Of Architect Is Right For You?

This article outlines three types of residential architects and the skills and services each provides. We also explain the importance of service level when selecting an architect for your dream home. For a related “how to,” we have a companion article, “Why You Want an Apartment Renovation Specialist.”

Architecture firms can provide three levels of service for a residential project: 

  • TYPE 1: Architects who file plans with your local  Department of Buildings.
  • TYPE 2: Architects who only generate residential design services. 
  • TYPE 1+2 = 3: An architect who will design and file your project with the local Department of Buildings.

Pro Tip: An Architect is a licensed professional in (New York State) your project’s state. The words “architectural designer” are often used to describe a designer who is not a licensed architect.

NYC DOB form “PW1” Work application form

TYPE 1 – Filing Architect

These professionals are in the same vicinity as your project and are familiar with local building codes and customs. Filing Architects will execute the drawings that your local Building Department requires to complete a gut renovation. They will also sign off on the construction once it is complete; they may offer design suggestions. 

Filing Architects are a cost-effective alternative that allows you to forgo a lengthy exploration and design process typical of Design Architects. This architect will perform DOB-required inspections. 

Pro Tip: Ask whether overseeing the construction project is part of the base fee.

TYPE 2 – Design Architect or Designer

Design architects focus on design services and conceptual drawings. They do not file your project with your local Building Department. A design architect and a designer must partner with a local “architect of record” who will file your project with the local agencies. This extra step means that the design decisions you make together may need to be revised due to lack of familiarity with building codes. 

TYPE 3 – Design +Filing Architect

Architects who design and file their projects take responsibility for a focus on design services and conceptual drawings. They are in the same vicinity as your project and are familiar with local codes and customs.

They combine design insight with a knowledge of local Building Department codes to create beautiful and functional designs that expand your understanding of the space while simultaneously reflecting local requirements. You will want them to supervise construction so your design intent is maintained in the final result. Ask whether a lengthy and personalized exploration is built into their fee. 

Pro Tip: Ask your prospective architect about their design philosophy.

Service Level

When choosing an architect, you should anticipate different styles of customer care: some are patient, some are abrupt, some tell you what is happening in advance, and some don’t. Speak to recent (past three years) clients with completed and similar jobs. 

What each firm’s clients disclose will reflect the client’s personality, the firm’s culture, and the character of the professional(s) with whom the client worked. Believe that the “how” of what they say will happen to you. For example, if the firm’s client loves the finished product but disliked the process, you are likely to have the same result and experience. 

Every architect has their own process for ensuring that your needs and wants are fulfilled. Architects are highly trained and qualified to provide solutions, look for someone who wants to please you.

Pro Tip: Ask your potential architect about their design philosophy to determine how their clients fit into their work.

Sleek and compact white kitchen with cafe table and chairs

Moving Forward: Understand 3 types of architects

Here are the crucial attributes and factors when finding an architect that suits you and your desired project.

  • Filing Architects provide documents filed with the local Building Department. This limited service is financially efficient if you do not want to pay for design expertise.
  • Design Architects provide design services only and do not file your project with your local Department of Buildings.
  • Architects who Design & File provide an integrated service that optimizes innovation and code compliance. 
  • Service level is an essential factor when hiring an architect
  • Interviewing takes a lot of time, and it is the most effective way to ensure your project is a success!

Pro tip: Not all architects are a good fit; if an architect declines your project, don’t take it personally. Clear communication is essential to a good gut renovation process. Don’t be shy about asking questions. Make sure you really understand what is said and that you like both the communication style and the answers.

Do you have more questions about selecting the right architect for you? Contact us, and we may include the answer in a future article!

About Us:

At AKA, we specialize in transforming homes to increase light views and experience; we focus on our clients’ delight!

Image Source: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/

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Allegra Kochman

Allegra Kochman

About the Author

Allegra has a BA with Honors from Dartmouth College and a Master of Architecture from Columbia University. She aims to write straightforward and practical content for those who want to gut renovate their homes.