A few days ago, I wrote a post that talked about how architect’s are a jack of all trades, but rarely a master of any. So a fair question might be, what the heck are we really responsible for. Depending on the project, the answers can vary significantly.
Let’s start with a small project, a residential project where most of the building systems are figured out on the job site by the contractor and subcontractors. Here, the architect almost assumes a role of master builder without ever actually lifing a hammer (heaven forbid we get our hands dirty). A good architect walks an inexperienced client thru the design process and keeps requirements for practical matters such as ductwork and plumbing access in mind, which makes the contractor’s jobs on site a lot easier. I’ve seen plenty of homes where no thought was given to these critical systems and you end up with awkward bulkheads and weird corners as the contractors are forced to lay claim to space in a less than optimal way due to a lack of designed opportunties. That’s why there are things such as a performance bond which can be used to make sure the projects are completed properly. In these small projects, the architect handles, and is responsible for, pretty much everything about a house from the structure; to the finish selections; to electrical, mechanical, and furniture layouts if the owner asks for such.