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Should You Hire an Architect Before You Buy a Property?

Should I Hire Architect Before Buying Property



We see all too often people assuming massive unnecessary risks when purchasing real estate. Why? Have you ever heard the phrase, “Love is blindness”? Because buyers fall in love with the purchase before it happens, and from that moment onward they do everything they can to convince themselves that the purchase is a sound one. They don’t fall In love with an objective assessment of the land, house, or building in front of them. They fall in love with the dreamy narrative that they convince themselves is possible and they contort their personalized interpretation of the purchase to lead themselves to the acquisition, albeit hastily.

Don’t do that. Be thorough. Be honest with yourself. Don’t let your hard-earned money and your precious time fall victim to your blind desire. Instead, hire an architect. Just a few hours of their time will save you the potential for a confrontation with a crushing reality that consumes both money and time that you may never get back.

What Experience Should an Architect Have?

Unfortunately, not all architects have the same understanding of construction, engineering, or design. So hire yourself one with a proven track record of being involved in both design and construction. The ideal architect would have worked in construction, managed construction projects, purchased and developed land & buildings themselves, and be knowledgeable in new technological trends as they relate to building practices.  

Are Contractors or a Building Inspection Enough?

Additionally, you never want to have a contractor solely evaluate a project or site. That isn’t to say the right qualified contractor or builder isn’t valuable in the review process but they are not trained in building tectonics, member sizes, building systems, vapor barriers and waterproofing, thermal dynamics, and sustainability (just to name a few). They are immensely valuable in reviewing construction quality but should never be relied upon beyond that. You also want to be careful with relying on building inspectors, because they are not architects, engineers, or contractors so use them with an abundance of caution.

The Vital Role of an Architect in Site Selection

Using an architect to help you select a suitable site, is like preventative medicine for your project. It’s like eating right and exercising so your project doesn’t end up in the hospital. Specifically, involving an architect early keeps you from assuming financial responsibility for costly circumstances that you only discover after your purchase. Making mistakes can jeopardize the financial health of your project and often leads to “value-engineering” and modifying the design. In most cases, the health of the project never fully recovered. Avoiding making unnecessary mistakes that weaken your project is in your control and hiring an architect to guide you on site selection is absolutely essential in avoiding those.

At Ervin Architecture we want to be involved early and often so that our prospective clients make informed decisions for their project that improve the outcome while minimizing risk. Over the years, we’ve become very skilled at finding creative ways to remedy overlooked conditions (when we are brought in after the fact) but despite our own creativity, we can’t just change the subsurface conditions, water quality, or the orientation of the sun (just to name a few). It cannot be overstated that designing for less ideal circumstances weakens the project and can become a costly endeavor. Before you purchase a home or land all site and building conditions must be understood and reviewed by Ervin Architecture, or another suitable architecture firm.

Every single purchase we have been a part of, we have uncovered unforeseen realities that have given our clients a much better understanding of what they are getting themselves into.

Diverse Site Selections for Commercial and Residential Projects

As an architect deeply committed to ensuring the success of your project, and I understand the pivotal role that site selection plays in its outcome. Let’s delve into the distinct considerations for both commercial and residential ventures, as each presents unique challenges and opportunities.

Commercial Site Selection OpTIONS:

  1.  Virgin Site Acquisition
    Embarking on a new development? Opting for a virgin site provides a clean slate, allowing your architect to design purpose-built structures tailored to your business needs.

  2. Brownfield Redevelopment
    Reclaiming contaminated sites (Brownfields) breathes new life into neglected spaces. Transforming environmental liabilities into assets demands an architect’s expertise in sustainability and remediation.

  3. Adaptive Reuse
    Revitalize existing structures by repurposing them for commercial use. This sustainable approach not only preserves architectural heritage but also requires a keen eye for structural adaptations and functional redesign.

  4. Demolition and Reconstruction
    When the existing structure doesn’t align with your vision, choosing a site for demolition and reconstruction grants the freedom to optimize space and functionality according to your business requirements.

Residential Site Selection OPTIONS:

  1. Virgin Land Purchase For a New Build
    For those envisioning a home from the ground up, a virgin site offers the canvas to realize architectural dreams, tailored to personal preferences and lifestyle.

  2. Brownfield Considerations
    Awareness of potential environmental challenges is crucial, especially when dealing with Brownfields. Architects bring expertise in sustainable design and can navigate the complexities of revitalizing such sites.

  3. Renovation and Remodeling
    Selecting a property with an existing structure provides opportunities for renovation and remodeling. An architect’s insight ensures that structural modifications align with your vision and adhere to safety standards.

  4. Demolition and New Construction
    When the existing structure poses limitations or doesn’t suit your preferences, opting for demolition and new construction allows for a fresh start, with the architect shaping a design that maximizes functionality and aesthetics.

What Needs to Be Reviewed Before Purchase?

On all real estate purchases, you should go through what we call the “Review Variables.”

These are the pre-purchase variables that need to be evaluated thoroughly: 

  • Client Needs & Design Potential 
  • Structural Review
  • Sustainable Design Opportunities
  • Soil Composition & Geotech 
  • Water Quality & Testing 
  • Water Infrastructure 
  • Sewer System Evaluation 
  • Electrical Service 
  • Building Construction 
  • Building Code Review (NFPA/IEBC/IRC)

Next Steps

Take the proactive step towards a confident property investment with Ervin Architecture! We would love to talk to you about your pre-purchase, giving you the opportunity to reassess and ensure your investment aligns perfectly with your goals. Benefit from our honest and expert feedback – seize the chance to make the right choice for your future property. Contact us today to embark on a journey of informed decision-making!

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