There’s an architect in the Long Beach area who is fairly popular among homeowners. We’ll call him Alan (not his real name). Alan has been in business forever. I don’t know him personally, but from what I understand, he’s a great guy and people love him.
I only know about him because I’ve worked with several homeowners who have worked with him in the past and who have told me about their experiences with him. From my understanding, this is how things usually go with Alan:
A homeowner will make an appointment for him to come out to their house to talk about a home remodel. Alan will show up on time and create an instant rapport with the homeowners. He’ll have a lot of great ideas and be very enthusiastic about the possibilities for the remodel. He’ll get out his pencil and paper and even do some rough sketches for the homeowners so they can visualize his ideas. Apparently, he’s quite a talented artist and can provide homeowners with some great initial sketches to get excited about. The homeowners hire him on the spot and give him a deposit to start working on the plans for their remodel, based on the ideas he gave them.
So far, so good, right? Alan sounds like the dream architect that any homeowner would love to work with. He’s creative, personable, enthusiastic, and experienced.
What happens next is the not-so-good part of the story. Many of Alan’s “great” ideas are not realistic. That initial meeting was not much more than performance art. He puts on a great show, but his plans fail to take into account important details like building codes and budgets. He’ll draw up plans based on his ideas, only for them to be rejected by the city planning department because they aren’t to code. Or he’ll include elements that would be so expensive to build that they would blow the homeowner’s remodeling budget out of the water.
With Alan, the process drags on much longer than it should, as plans have to be amended over and over again in order to be approved, and the final design may barely resemble the exciting, but unrealistic, plans that were presented to the homeowners on day one. Either that, or the homeowners have to greatly increase their stated budget to accommodate his pie-in-the-sky ideas that they initially fell in love with.
Maybe you’ve worked with an architect like Alan in the past. People like him say all the right things and have great ideas, but the execution isn’t there. I don’t think people like Alan are ill-intentioned. I just think they don’t have the right balance of creativity and grounded-ness that a good architect needs.
Good architects have at least a basic understanding of their local building codes. They know what’s possible, and they have a good idea about things that will never get approved by their city planning department. They have a general understanding of what certain types of projects cost and can work within a budget, providing homeowners with realistic expectations up front.
At Grisafe Architecture, we have plenty of creativity and enthusiasm to go around, but we also have a good amount of practical wisdom and experience when it comes to taking a residential project from start to finish. We have an in-house code specialist who can tell us if an idea is doable or not, before we get too far into the design process. We have a great network of professionals, like structural engineers and Title 24 consultants, who we can call on for their expertise. Our plans are typically approved quickly, needing few or no changes, which keeps projects moving forward in a timely manner.
If we sound like the type of Long Beach architecture firm you’d like to work with, reach out! We’d love to hear from you and learn more about your upcoming project.