Why hire a licensed professional architect when another party says they can draw a home for less?
Many of our followers prompt the question, so we thought it was time for discussion. Licensed professional architects, builders, residential designers, and decorators operate within similar realms. And while lesser professionals may say they can draft a home and get the job done, the difference in training and required depth of knowledge among these professionals can be surprising. In addition, the protection for a client long after their structure is built – or total lack thereof – is a staggering point of difference. Below, why so many members of our firm are proud to hold the designation of a licensed professional architect.
Depth of knowledge and years of training
The depth of academic foundation and rigorous training required in order to use the term licensed professional architect (or even “architect”) are beyond significant. Undergraduate degree programs require five full years to complete and cover everything from principles of construction and their relationship to architectural form and the built environment, to how architecture facilitates a sustainable way of life, to the relationship between zoning and structure, and much, much more. Principles of engineering and design along with historical themes and new interpretations thereof are all considered.
In addition to five years of academic training, a licensed professional architect must have years of internship under their belt. Now referred to as the Architecture Experience Program (AXP), this apprenticeship is completed, on average, in just over four years. In this way, the licensed professional architect candidate can put theory into practice under the tutelage of veteran architects who have years of actual on-the-job experience.
Beyond academic training and actual experience, a licensed professional architect must pass the Architect Registration Examination, or ARE. To put things in perspective, medical board exams take 10 hours and the bar exam takes 12. The ARE takes 21 hours to complete, and on average, most candidates finish the exam within two years of starting it.
Between schooling, apprenticeship, and examination, a person who has earned the designation of a licensed professional architect will have at least a decade of knowledge under their belt. This required minimum isn’t the case with builders – even licensed ones – draftspeople, residential designers, or decorators.
Protection for you and your home well into the future
Licensed professional architects will not only draw plans and advocate your project through planning and other boards, but they will very importantly oversee the construction phase of the project. This latter responsibility during construction is a critical nuance for clients, because licensed professional architects are held to the highest standard permissible by law should something go wrong. Whether the issue was caused by error, oversight, or omission, the responsibility belongs to the licensed architect to fix it, with a far longer statute of limitations. Sure, a builder may give a 1 year new home warranty, but if two years later a problem is discovered with the property, it was likely the responsibility of the licensed architect overseeing the construction to have called it out at the time of build. Without using a licensed architect, a client is simply not afforded anywhere near that level of protection.
How do you know if your architect is licensed? Fortunately, most states maintain a roster of licensed architects in their jurisdiction which can be accessed here.
At Patrick Ahearn Architect, we are proud of our team of licensed professional architects who uphold all standards of the profession and are members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the professional organization of architects. In addition, in May 2015, our founder Patrick Ahearn was advanced to AIA fellowship, a career benchmark that few achieve. The designation was bestowed for his notable contributions to the profession and to society on a national level, and for his highest standard of excellence in the profession.