When it comes to home improvement projects, no homeowner wants to pay more than they have to in order to get the job done. But for those who want the job done right, it’s often necessary to pay more to have the work completed by a professional who will make sure everything is done according to current building codes and in a way that will pass inspection.
For larger home remodels, it’s typically necessary to bring in an architect at the beginning of the project. An architect can help you with the big picture, and can also come up with solutions to the issues that may be causing you to want to remodel your home in the first place. Perhaps you want more space in your main living area for entertaining, or just to have more space to hang out with your family. An architect can help you either reimagine your existing space or come up with a plan to add some square footage. The best solution may be one that you never could have imagined!
A Long Beach Architect’s Perspective on Working with an Architect for a Home Remodel
Mark Grisafe, an architect who specializes in Long Beach home remodels, had this to say about working with an architect, “So often, people see home improvement television shows where remodelers knock down walls and reconfigure entire floor plans during a half-hour show. Unfortunately, this gives people a false sense of how easy it is to remodel a home. In reality, there was likely a lot of planning and calculating that went on behind the scenes that viewers don’t ever get to see. For just about any home remodel—especially in California—you really need to bring in an architect to draw up plans. And then there’s the lengthy approval process that never gets shown. In the best-case scenario, getting approvals on a Long Beach home remodel can take several weeks.”
For some smaller remodels, homeowners may be able to get away with having plans drawn up by their general contractor, rather than an architect. Some general contractors—especially more experienced ones—may be able to successfully handle this part of the home remodeling process. However, homeowners should anticipate that the approval process will take longer when using a general contractor to draw up plans than an architect, simply because they are often not as well versed in building codes as an architect. There will likely be some back-and-forth between a general contractor and the plan checkers, which will cause the project’s timeline to get delayed.
Grisafe says, “There’s a lot that goes into the permitting process, but the most important part of the process is submitting plans that meet local building codes. General contractors are certainly familiar with the more common code requirements, but architects deal with code on an almost daily basis. If they don’t know the answer to a code-related question off the top of their head, they know how to find the answer.”
If you own a home that’s in a historic district and want to complete a home remodel, working with an architect is pretty much a requirement. Historic homes typically have restrictions when it comes to what can be changed and how, and the plans have to go through an extra layer of approvals before any remodeling can begin. For example, in Long Beach, remodels to historic homes have to be approved by the City’s Cultural Heritage Commission. Working with a Long Beach architect who is familiar with historic home remodels can definitely make the approval process go more smoothly, but homeowners should still be prepared for the process to take several months.