White Paper #6
November 15, 2002

To improve the Oklahoma Architectural Act; Provide Oklahoma citizens and businesses with a uniform standard for the protection of public health, safety and welfare as it relates to the built environment; Raise that standard to a level that matches the laws in adjacent states. This is one of several White Papers to generally explain the need and proposals to be presented to the Oklahoma Legislature's 2003 session.

Ever wonder who an architect is? Ever wonder what an architect does? Ever wonder how an architect affects your life?

Then take a look at these highlights from the American Institute of Architects publication entitled Beginner's Guide to Architectural Services - Why You Should Hire An Architect.

Beginner's Guide to Architectural Services - Why You Should Hire an Architect

Beginner's Guide to Architectural Services
Why You Should Hire An Architect

Few people realize how complicated it is to build--that is until they find themselves lost in the maze of design options, building codes, zoning laws, contractors, and so on. No two building projects are exactly alike, so there is no single, clear-cut path to follow.

The architect is the one professional who has the education, training, experience, and vision to guide you through the entire design and construction process, from helping you define what you want to build to helping you get the most for your construction dollar.

Architects see the big picture. They don't just design four walls and a roof--they create total environments, interiors and exteriors, that satisfy functional needs and are exciting, dynamic spaces in which to work and live.

Whether you are remodeling, adding on, or building from scratch, the architect can guide the way. Working with contractors and other construction professionals, architects can help you end up with a well-designed project that meets your needs and works with your budget and time frame.

The Architect Solves Problems Most building projects start with a want or need. "I need more file space in my office." But how does that need or want get translated into square feet and three-dimensional space? That is what architects are trained to do--solve problems in creative ways. With their broad knowledge of design and construction, architects can show you alternatives and options you might never think of on your own.

Not sure how fast your business is going to grow? An architect can design an office that meets your needs today and can be adapted for tomorrow. Have a limited budget? The architect looks for ways to make your project cost effective.

The Architect Can Save You Money The architect's services are a wise investment for the money, not an added cost to your project. Why? Because a well-conceived project can be built more efficiently and economically. Architects plan your project with you. As your ideas evolve, changes can be made on paper--much less expensively than later on when construction is underway. Thorough drawings also make it easier for the contractor to accurately price and build your project.

Because energy efficient buildings can save you money on fuel bills down the road. An architect can design a building to maximize heating from the sun and let in natural light, thus reducing your heating, cooling, and electric bills over time.

Because an architect can help you choose materials and finishes that are durable as well as beautiful, saving on frequent maintenance and replacement costs. Architects work to stay abreast of advances in construction materials. Their familiarity with the full range of materials enables them to suggest the appropriate materials for your project.

Because good design sells. A well-designed house has a higher resale value. A well-designed store draws customers. A well-designed work environment attracts employees and increases productivity.

The Architect Can Make Your Life Easier Let's face it, building is a long process that is often messy and disruptive. The architect you hire looks out for your interests and tries to find ways to make that process go smoothly. If your project requires engineering or other design services, the architect can coordinate this team of experts so you don't have to. The architect sorts out complex building codes and zoning laws. The architect can help you find qualified construction contractors based on your requirements. The architect visits the construction site to help verify that the project is being built according to plans and specifications.

Six Steps Toward Building Your Dream Design and construction projects involve several steps. Typically, projects go through the following six phases.

Step 1: Deciding What to Build This first stage, called programming, is probably the most valuable time you will spend with your architect.

Step 2: Making Rough Sketches Once you have defined what is to be built, the architect will then do a series of rough sketches, known as schematic designs. They are meant to show possible approaches for you to consider.

Step 3: Refining the Design This step, called design development, is when the architect prepares more detailed drawings to illustrate other aspects of the proposed design.

Step 4: Preparing Construction Documents At this point, the architect prepares construction documents, the detailed drawings and specifications which the contractor will use to establish actual construction cost and to build the project.

Step 5: Hiring the Contractor Your architect can make recommendations, or if you already have someone you want to work with, you might send the construction documents to him or her and negotiate fees and costs. Or you may wish to choose among several contractors you've asked to submit bids on the job.

Step 6: Construction The architect's involvement normally does not stop with the preparation of construction documents. Architects also provide construction administration services.


The architect can ease the way by helping you avoid wrong turns, but also can direct you to solutions you never considered. The result is a unique building project created to meet your needs, express your individuality, and provide enjoyment for everyone who uses it.


Other topics dealing with the proposed changes to the Architectural Act are addressed in additional issues of this series of eight White Papers. For more information on any topic in this series of papers, please call the Eastern Oklahoma Chapter/AIA at 981/583-0013 or the Central Oklahoma Chapter/AIA at 405/948-7174.