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Architects – When to Draw the Line on Drawing the Lines

In this series First Time Builder: A-Z list of Essentials, Jeremy Bjork will detail several issues facing some of his most important clients, first time builders such as yourself. Jeremy will answer common questions and provide you with simple and affordable solutions to common situations. Jeremy works as a Senior Level Project Manager at Armstrong Steel in Denver, Colorado. He is responsible for managing building projects for both established and first time builders. He consistently integrates the newest building designs and efficiencies to assist the budget conscious builder. He is focused on personal and professional relationships, project budgets, timelines, and organizational performance; with special care and consideration to first time builders or builders who may not have unlimited budgets. Jeremy encourages first time builders to write to him with questions and comments, or details of your experience as a first time builder.

You might be surprised to learn that the first question you should ask yourself when you are planning a first time building project isn’t, “which architect should I hire,” but rather, “why should I hire an architect?”

If you are building a simple structure – a garage or workshop, perhaps – the conservative talents of a structural engineer are likely all you will need. A fancy roof or an intricate door frame looks great on paper but can cost thousands of dollars in engineering and construction. A few design lines here or there can quickly add up. These are the types of creative options that will take your easily erected project from the affordable category of ‘pre-engineered’ – to the high-cost category of ‘custom-design.’

I always remind people that a good structural engineer can make all the design changes you will ever need. Indeed, if you can imagine it, a structural engineer can do it. That doesn’t mean that you need to skimp on aesthetics. An architect or a designer can always be hired to add beauty elements once the important part of the process – building a sound structural system – has been completed. To put it another way, you should write the story before you ever think about drawing the pictures.

As a first time builder you should always be mindful that your skill set and resources are often limited. Your project probably won’t require the great visions of an architect. You should always consult, first, with a project manager, like me, who will help you create a first-time building project that fits within your budget, your building’s purpose, and your skill level. The services of a structural engineer are often included in the cost of your project management, so there isn’t a need to find one on your own.

From the Taj Mahal to the Roman Coliseum, there is a reason that great architecture is considered an art form; because it’s created at the whim and fancy of creative people who rarely consider cost an issue. But for most of us, we don’t need an elaborate fresco to cover a blank wall when a simple, functional and affordable coat of paint will do.

To learn more about pre-engineered steel building systems, check out our complete guide to steel buildings!