Cost, or Investment?

What people say and what they believe are not always the same. For whatever reason, we might respond to someone’s question by giving that person the answer they want to hear — the popular response. While secretly, deep down inside, what we believe is different than what we say.

Take for example the builders that read this magazine who responded to our recent online survey about architects. One question asked builders to tell us how much they agree or disagree with nine terms used to describe architects. Of the nine choices, builders most strongly agree that expensive describes architects best. Finishing a close second and third are creative and professional, words we’d all like used to describe ourselves.

It might not shock you that builders think architects are expensive, but it doesn’t mesh with the answers they gave to two other questions we asked. In the survey, we also asked builders to tell us if an architect’s involvement on one of their residential projects resulted in an increase in the home’s value. More builders than not say a home’s value increased. And just because some builders say they didn’t see a rise in a home’s value, doesn’t mean they don’t value architects, or that they don’t use them. Those builders probably don’t define an architect’s value based on whether a home’s selling price goes up.
We then asked builders to tell us if an architect’s services returned value to a remodeling project they’ve completed. Again, the majority of builders say an architect’s involvement on a remodeling job returned more value than the total cost of the project. Good, because that’s always the goal.

But wait a second. One minute builders acknowledge that an architect adds value to a project. But only a few short survey questions later they say architects are expensive. So which is it? Are architects expensive; is this what builders are conditioned to say? Or do they believe deep down that architects provide value? Can both be true?

It depends on how you look at it, and that’s the crucial point here. Every custom builder needs to accept architects as valuable members of the building team. Do so and your homes will look and perform better, and your clients will sing your praises. Think of an architect’s fee as what it truly is; an investment.

Thankfully, many builders already work with architects on a regular basis, and others have them on staff. These are the builders that are winning awards and getting all those referrals from happy clients. For those builders who aren’t convinced that investing in an architect’s services is worth the expense, talk to some architects and discover the value they can provide.

For detailed survey results and the chart.