Architects Need to be Viewed as Value, NOT Expense by Bryan Toepfer, AIA, NCARB, CAFM

“We aren’t sure if we are going to hire an Architect yet.”

A truly terrifying sentence to hear…and sadly I hear it quite often when meeting with potential clients.


This usually stems from one of two misconceptions, one of which we are going to discuss.

1) They don’t think they need an Architect or are required to have one. (Both are usually wrong, but we’ll have to tackle this topic another time.)

2) They believe it is cost prohibitive or expensive to hire an Architect for their project.

I could spend this entire article explaining why Architects are invaluable to your project, but what it comes down to is budget, and the reality is Architects will help CONTROL the cost of your project.

Architects are not an added expense; they will SAVE you money in the long term.

That sentence always raises eyebrows and doubts when I bring it up. If you hire an Architect, and their fees are a sizable portion of a construction budget, how is money being saved? Simple…whatever money you are saving by not hiring an Architect, you will pay MULTIPLES due to the issues that WILL arise.

You most likely wouldn’t enter a courtroom without a lawyer, even though you could…So why would you enter a construction project without an Architect?

To “double down” on the legal example I just provided, all construction projects begin with complicated legal contracts. Architects live and breathe these documents every day, and can you help through reviewing them and making sure you sign a “fair” agreement. If you doubt this, just go online and read the stories of clients entering projects without adequate contracts…the results are horrifying.

Architects provide infinite value due to their creativity, knowledge and experience, and literal passion for their craft. (There are MANY careers that are less stressful and much easier, but we all stay for a reason.) However, in my experience whenever there is doubt about hiring an Architect it is always about money. How can it not be? There are very few things in life that devour money more than construction.

Let’s delve into how your money can be misspent without an Architect. One of the aspects of an Architect’s involvement is the creation of Construction Documents. These are NOT just floor plans. Everyone has accepted that Architects draw floor plans, yet that is a SMALL portion of what we do. Construction Documents are a detailed set of graphic instructions on how a building is going to be put together. Yes, it has floor plans, but it also has other drawing types, construction details, etc.