Renovating in NYC? You Might Need an Architect

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New York City is a property market unlike any other in the United States, indeed, in the world. The line between condos and apartments is almost constantly blurred. The factors that determine worthy investments are unique.  And the market itself is simultaneously stagnant and fluid.

Rejuvenating buildings and renovating individual homes is always in the cards. And that makes decision- making complicated, even if the solutions are innovative and inspiring. If you need to update a single home or a small block of units, how do you determine whether you need an architect? Surely some of these projects demand the creativity of more than just yourself and a contractor?

Sometimes, yes. But an architect offers some solutions you simply won’t uncover through other avenues.

The Difference between Architects and Contractors

 In essence, both contractors and architects are problem solvers. And, you could potentially throw the same projects at both.  But, you will end up with very different solutions.

An architect will help you visualize your design and layout. He or she will attack the challenges through a variety of methods, ensuring that your lifestyle, budget and city building codes are all addressed without compromising on any of them. Architects are continually looking to push the boundaries, open the space and develop new ways of addressing time-old problems.

It’s not to say that a contractor can’t do this. But there is a critical difference in the way contractors address the same issues. Traditionally, contractors work with budgets (constrained or otherwise) and they will always turn toward this element to develop their plans. A contractor may turn to suppliers or materials that can get the job done before considering new ways to approach the space. That doesn’t mean that contractors are without imagination. It also doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to floor plan development. It’s simply that they’re more adept at interpreting existing plans and making them fall into the budget.

In short, an architect is concerned with the way things can be done rather than the way they have been done.

Hiring an Architect Drives the Budget Skyward, Doesn’t It?

 It’s too easy to assume an architect drives up the cost of a project. And it’s true; unless you’re working on a social responsibility project, you’re not likely to obtain the services of an architect for free – no matter how junior the architect is.

But, the cost of architectural services is often a fallacy. These professionals understand the pricing implications of every angle, every window, and every new way of building a staircase. They’re aware of the responsibility and constricting factors in city planning and neighborhood integrity. This understanding avoids costly mistakes when building begins. You might save more than you spend to commission an architect.

There is a caveat though – there always is, isn’t there?  If you want to keep costs in line with your expectations, you need to find an architect that understands you and the neighborhood. And this person must have the relevant licenses and experience in NYC. You don’t want to bring in the architect that designed your Midwestern home. New York is an entirely different market with unique constraints and legislation. But that’s part of what makes it so delightful to live here.


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