We know that when you are considering building a new home or adding on to your current home in New Jersey it can seem very overwhelming. There are many things that must be done when researching an architect, builder, contractors, etc. There are also many things that you must think about before you can even officially decide to build a new house or add-on to your existing one.
As premier NJ architects, we want to give you the most guidance possible when it comes to planning your next build or home addition project. We’ve rounded up our best advice from New Jersey experts including everything from taking the first step in deciding on your project, to going about choosing the perfect architect, to handling all the costs that come with it and to seeing the final project through to the end. We hope this advice will be helpful and beneficial so you can take the next step in creating your dream home.
3 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUILDING A HOUSE IN NJ
Building your first home can be both exciting and challenging at the same time. While buying a previously built home and making a few updates to fit your needs may seem like a fantastic alternative, the home will never have the feeling of comfort and adoration that a home built specifically for you can provide. Let’s face it, custom homes are a fantastic way to make your brand-new home feel like home from the very start; however, if this is your first time building a home then the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty may leave you wondering what might go wrong.
The anticipation of building a home that meets your exact taste and specifications is something that most people dream about, while the reality of learning the dos and don’ts of the process is downright confusing. While building a home may seem straightforward, each state has a different set of requirements to consider and ensuring that these requirements are being strictly adhered to could determine whether or not your home building experience is successful. That is why we developed a list of three things that you should do when building a house in NJ.
1. Consult NJ laws and regulations.
While this may seem straightforward, for some it’s not always so apparent. Checking your state’s laws and regulations prior to building will help prevent serious issues later on down the line. For example, according to the State of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, the law requires a builder to register with the State of New Jersey before starting construction of any new home and before offering a warranty on any new home bought and sold in the State. According to the website, each application should be submitted with a $200 nonrefundable registration fee and, if approved, the builder will receive a registration card that should be presented to the local construction official when construction permits are obtained. Failure to comply with this law may result in a fine of up to $2,000. This is just one example of things to consider before setting up plans to begin building your new home. Taking the time to review the regulations of your state to dot your “i”s and cross your “t”s could prevent a lot of heartache later on down the line.
2. Talk to your builder about your homeowner warranty.
Home warranties are required by law in NJ, but warranties come in different shapes and sizes. While each warranty may be different, there are regulations that govern what is required or optional within each warranty. According to section 5:25-2.7 of the New Jersey Administrative Code which was published by the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, the following is required by law: Each builder or building business entity shall, at the time of registration, indicate on the registration form the warranty plan in which that entity is enrolled or chooses to be enrolled. No builder or building business entity shall be issued a certificate of registration unless they have enrolled or have applied for enrollment in either the State Warranty Plan or a private warranty plan. This means that not only is a warranty required but it one must be obtained prior to a certificate of registration being issued.
3. Fully understand your contract.
You know what they say when you assume. Well, when it comes to home-building contracts, this concept is no different. Even if you are wondering about something that may seem insignificant such as weather delays, be sure to ask questions ahead of time and incorporate as much as possible into your contract. After all, it is better to spend time working on a lengthy contract than lose thousands of dollars later because you were too afraid to ask a question early on in the process. If you would like to learn more about things to consider and avoid in a home-building contract, then take a look at some great tips from NOLO.
4 HOME ADDITION TIPS EVERY NJ HOMEOWNER NEEDS TO KNOW
Done right, a home addition can offer homeowners many advantages. Adding extra space may make a house both more comfortable in the near future and more valuable when it is time to sell. In a real estate market like the one in New Jersey, the decision to build onto an existing home might be a better alternative than selling a small house and buying a bigger one.
However, adding more living space to a house is a big project. All homeowners should be aware that there are some pitfalls to avoid along the way. In order to fully enjoy the experience, these are some tips that will help make the experience as pleasant and productive as possible.
1. Gather a Home’s Legal Documents in the Beginning
The first document that most homeowners need to produce is called the plat map. This should be included with other mortgage documents and is prepared by a title company whenever homes or bought or sold in New Jersey. Homeowners who don’t have one of these maps of their property can get one produced for a fee.
Important details included in this graphic description of the lot are boundary lines and easements for utilities. This ensures that the new addition design doesn’t cross into the neighbor’s property, block a gas line, and so on. Designers will need this map before they can begin their work.
2. Shop for the Right Professionals to Assist With the Project
The right design professional can assist right from the start by creating a realistic home addition that should stay within budget and really improve the house’s livability and value. The designer should account for the homeowner’s desires, good utility management, and of course, the budget.
Architects may also be able to provide referrals for good construction companies with a reputation for delivering quality work within budgets and time schedules. These factors are all very important for a number of reasons that include enjoying the whole experience and obtaining adequate financing for the project.
3. Consider Construction Financing
Some homeowners may have enough equity in their existing home to obtain loans based upon that. Otherwise, homeowners might have to obtain a construction loan, and these are a bit different than traditional mortgages. Because there may not be typical “comps” for a unique home addition, financing companies or banks might be as interested in the ease of the project and the reputation of the construction company as they are in the borrower’s credit scores. Very often, banks will want 20 percent down for a construction loan, especially if there is not sufficient equity in the existing home. You can learn a little more about construction loans in this video.
4. Maintain Realistic Expectations
As far as increasing the property value of homes, additions that add extra living space often do pay off pretty well when it becomes time to sell the house. For example, a homeowner is far more likely to recoup a home addition investment than they are an investment in a swimming pool. As far as the value of an investment, a home addition is also often a more frugal decision than simply buying a larger home.
There are plenty of good reasons for considering a home addition to make a house more useful and increase its market value. On the other hand, a larger home may consume more utilities and require more maintenance. Also, homeowners need to be prepared for some disruption during construction. There may even be periods when the homeowner and his or her family need to find alternate housing.
Home Additions Can Add Value and Satisfaction
Building onto an existing home may be the right decision for homeowners who need extra living space and hope to make a good investment in their property. With the right preparation, the experience of adding onto a house may be an exciting time.
Deciding on the type of project you want to do in your home is the first step, but now it’s time to think about hiring the professionals.
DO I NEED AN ARCHITECT FOR MY NEW JERSEY HOME ADDITION?
When considering an addition to your house you’re going to have a lot of questions. And that’s completely normal. Putting on an addition is not something you do every day. Most people don’t do it more than once in a lifetime.
One of the biggest questions about your home addition project is Do I need an NJ architect?
Here are some points that you need to take into account while planning your addition project.
New Jersey Laws Need to Be Considered
According to New Jersey law, all projects involving construction, enlargement, repair, renovation, alteration, reconstruction, or demolish a structure requires first filing an application with the local township construction official in writing and obtaining the required construction permit that is issued by the township.
Plus, according to New Jersey law, any application for a construction permit for a single-family residence shall be accompanied by at least two copies of drawing plans to show the nature and character of the work to be performed. The drawings need to be prepared by a state-licensed and registered professional NJ architect or engineer and must bear the signature and seal of said professional.
Do I Need An Architect If I Have A Good Contractor?
Good contractors are skilled with physical construction and management of labor, materials, construction cost and schedule. Many experienced contractors have good individual design ideas, what finish to use on this floor, what exterior siding to use on the front of the house, what light fixture to hang in the foyer. The architect, however, will use materials as an across-the-board, full wardrobe and will select and coordinate them based on the sentiment of choosing quality rather than quantity.
What About Using A Structural Engineer?
Structural engineers are very skilled at design of the “skeleton” of a building, but it is not too common that their services are sought for the design of general building style or spatial organization, which is what an architect’s work includes.
What Differentiates Architects From Contractors And Structural Engineers?
What differentiates architects from contractors and structural engineers is their ability to apply a universal approach to thought and design through all aspects and stages of a project.
Here are some examples. Placement of one window on the second floor affects another window below it on the first floor, leaving a better impression on the mind when they are aligned. Aligning the windows together may adversely affect one window’s placement in relation to the space it is serving; so, adjustment of the space may be required, and its adjacent space, and on and on until the architect can get it to reach a resolving termination. The architect’s experience of working with the spaces individually as well as together is the uniqueness that he brings to the project.
The content of the soil in the earth under the house will eventually determine the size of the very highest beam at the top of the roof, which will determine ceiling height and, in turn, psychological perception of a space, as height versus width and length are considered.
The bane of Jack-and-Jill bathrooms: two bedrooms occupied by children each with a door into a shared bathroom is a ticking time bomb for sibling battle when you consider that eventually, the door of room A is going to be left locked by occupant of room B, upsetting room A occupant, who has to go around to room B and flip the bird before going into the bathroom. A kitchen island with a sink should not be placed directly across from the range. Staggering the sink and range, even slightly, is not as tiring to the cook.
Can’t I Just Do It Myself?
Home design software and DIY weekend endeavors fall short of the full potential of a great architecture project. Positioned in the market to save the homeowner money, in part, by omitting the services of an architect, it also omits the value an architect’s experience adds to a project.
A good NJ architect will include in the architectural drawings everything the homeowner wants, but will also provide concepts and insight that wouldn’t have been considered otherwise, making the project better developed and more rewarding and enjoyable for the homeowner and ultimately establishing greater resale value.
Good architects are skilled at listening to their customers. What the homeowner wants to do and can do, is the architect’s challenge to make happen and in the quickest, most cost-effective, and creatively smart way possible. The homeowner’s words are the directive; the homeowner wants to be heard and the resulting spaces and building are a testament to the fact that the homeowner was heard. The architect ushers in that result.
Communication With Your Contractor Is Crucial
The bridge from the homeowner’s mouth to the contractor’s hammer is the architect’s work together with the town’s approvals. The architect’s drawings are legal documents that represent graphically and in text what the homeowner wants to do. The drawings are also instructions for what the homeowner wants the contractor to build and they show the standard building and safety code requirements sought by the state. The architect’s drawings are meant to facilitate and legitimize that dialogue between homeowner and contractor. The bonus points the architect adds to the project are the ideas and concepts that take the homeowner’s directive to an elevated level. If a wife wants her husband to make a chicken dinner for the kids, from what source is the recipe that she gives him? Tyson Food Inc. or Julia Child?
Rules And Regulations In New Jersey Vary Widely
State safety and building code requirements are written to protect the general public and act in the public’s best interest. The state defers interpretation and enforcement of the codes to local authorities that preside over projects being constructed; in other words, the township building department has the final say on what is being built in town.
Building officials differ from township to township in their interpretation of the codes; there is never unanimity. They each tend to look for specific issues, never all issues, when reviewing drawings and inspecting construction progress. While some look for barrier-free accessibility (handicap access) omissions from a design, others may be more concerned with ample insulation in the exterior walls, and other are concerned with the design of the exterior light fixtures and that they are circuited separately from the rest of the house. When asked if there is concern with one issue about which an inspector had not previously been concerned with, he or she will voice the affirmative, as opinion is now on record.
4 REASONS WHY A NJ HOME ADDITION SHOULD START WITH AN ARCHITECT
Whether it is for an extra bedroom and bath, family room, or home office, you’ve come to the conclusion more floor space would be beneficial for your home. In order to have the extra space, you need a well-constructed addition to fit the available lot size, your budget, and one that blends with the current architectural style of the house as well as an addition that conveys the features and amenities you’ve envisioned for the new structure both inside and out.
In the Montclair and Morristown areas of New Jersey, you will also want an addition that meets the standards for construction set by the city, county, or township and a building that will pass inspection. To ensure the job is up to par, it is best to hire the services of a qualified NJ architect. Here are four reasons why.
1. Architect Credibility
Regardless of the size of the home addition, it involves time and money and you want the process to be right from the start. Hiring an NJ architect provides several benefits to ensure your money is well spent. An architect has the education and training to understand the ins and outs of what is required when designing an addition as well as knowledge of building materials and how they work together. Architects don’t work in the dark. They’ll do an on-site check of the location and take everything into consideration before laying out a design including any negative ramifications an addition can cause to the roof line, adjacent walls, wiring, HVAC ductwork and foundation.
Each city and state has its own regulations for requiring permits for home repair, renovation, wiring, plumbing, roof replacement and new additions. In Montclair and Morristown, a permit is required before a new addition can be constructed. Any permits must be approved and in hand prior to the start of construction. An added benefit of hiring an architect is you’ll have a hands-on copy of the design plans. These come in handy if you’re considering making a change and need to discuss it with the architect, to show the contractor when requesting bids, and to show building inspectors. If necessary, an architect can guide you through the application process.
3. Communication – Turning A Dream Into a Reality
You have a vision of what you want your addition to look like from ceiling to floor. An architect takes your vision and turns it into a viable plan using every possible option to create the right design within the available parameters. If there are limitations to what is possible, an architect has the experience to know how to turn those limitations into advantages whenever possible. For example, if adding a second-floor addition to a one-story home isn’t possible due to structural issues, or the terrain is problematic, an architect will tell you it isn’t possible and find an alternative. Architects understand communication with the client is a top priority so there is no confusion along the way resulting in a satisfied client.
4. Licensed and Insured
Choosing a reputable and established NJ architect with a clean record with the Better Business Bureau ensures you will receive top-notch work. These professional individuals are licensed by the state and carry general liability insurance. Architects also have a network to other professionals such as building contractors, plumbers, electricians, and other consultants that can be brought into the project on the owner’s behalf.
With the architect coordinating the consultants on the job front start to finish, they see the work, first hand, and can reject any defective work or materials and make sure the design plan is being followed to the letter. The more your architect can do means less stress for you.
Now that you have an idea of what it takes to start a large project like a new home build or home addition and you know WHY it’s important to have an NJ architect, let’s talk about ways to make sure you’re choosing the right professional for your specific project. Many architects specialize in certain things so you want to hire the right one for you. You also want to make sure you’re choosing an architect that you will work well with. These projects can take weeks or months to complete so you want to make sure you and your NJ architect get along and understand each other prior to taking on the big jobs.
WHEN BUILDING A HOUSE, GET THE RIGHT NJ ARCHITECT
To a new home buyer, nothing is more exciting than watching their property change from old to new. Every idea and vision that they have for their home will come together before their eyes. This doesn’t magically happen, as much as we might like, rather, it takes a professional who can work their own little bit of magic to get things done. A professional will be able to mesh those wants and needs into a cohesive home while still managing the budget.
Picking the right architect for your NJ project may seem a bit overwhelming, but if you know what to look for in a professional, it will make your life a whole lot easier.
Scour home-advising websites
In our great age of internet technology, if you’re wondering how to find an architect you’re in luck. There are multitudes of websites that will allow you to search for reputable professionals in your area. Many of them will have reviews posted with real accounts from previous customers so you can see a first-hand account of how they worked with prior clients. Even better, clients could post images of their completed projects so you can see the end result.
The great thing about these websites is that you can specify what type of professional you are looking for and target a specific location. However, don’t feel limited to choosing someone in your community. In this era of email and Skype, it’s not uncommon for an architect to work remotely on a project.
Additionally, once you find a professional you think might work well for your project, try to find out if they have a website. A personalized website can provide you with all kinds of information on their previous work and what is important to his or her design practice.
Stress your budget
The client-architect relationship is very important and should be a bit personal. This person will be creating content to fit your needs and that of your family, so knowing more about you and your likes and dislikes will make their job much easier. With that being said, the budget is an extremely important factor in who you decide to choose as your architect. The budget you have in mind should cover not only the amount of the project but also the fees associated with hiring a professional. Architects will usually charge anywhere from 5% – 20% of the total project cost. This is dependent upon the services provided to you, the complexity of your project, and how well known the architect. Having a discussion about your budget and what the architect will charge is rather important and probably should be one of the first things discussed during an initial conversation.
Any good architect will have a list of other professionals that they have worked with. This list could prove invaluable to you during your project. After all, it’s not just the architect that will be working. It will take a village of various professionals such as general contractors, electricians, plumbers, landscapers, and designers to bring everything to life. And an architect with connections is something you may want to consider. You don’t need a laundry list, but if an architect has a small grouping of other professionals that they use regularly, it could make things easier for you and your wallet.
Knowing that your architect is close with other professionals could also get you some discounts. But more importantly, you’re getting professionals that have been vetted by your architect. This means there is a greater chance that they will do everything they can to ensure your project goes off without a hitch. In the end, it’s not just your project on the line. Their relationship with the architect is something they want to maintain so they can have repeat business.
AN ALMOST FOOLPROOF WAY OF HIRING A GREAT NEW JERSEY ARCHITECT
Part of the reason New Jersey residents love their state is the abundance of small towns — it just feels like home, with all the added attractions of natural beauty, diversity, history, culture, changing seasons, the City just across the river, the shore, the pizza. If you live in this state, you can relate!
Living here, though, also means that you have a variety of ways to define your image of “home and hearth.” With so many options available in a single state, deciding whether you want to live on a water view lot in River Edge, a townhome near the shore, a modern condo carved from a converted factory building with a view of the New York skyline, or a grand old two-story set on a manicured lawn in Montclair, might be a difficult choice. Then, too, you might drive through Red Bank or Cedar Grove and know immediately that you have found your “home.”
Figuring out how to find an architect in New Jersey that can help you forge your reality may take some time, but it should not be overly difficult. Remember, though that the “perfect alliance” will be one based on a shared vision, mutual trust and an honest and open business relationship.
Ask a few up-front questions to get that relationship off to a good start:
- What are your specialties? If you want to retain the character of a centuries-old home, you should not consider an architectural firm that specializes in modern Euro-style and chrome-and-glass office buildings, no matter how spectacular and energy-efficient they may be.
- Settle In. Define your goals. If you’re New Jersey born and bred, you may already know what appeals to you the most about the community you have chosen; if not, take the time to analyze your lifestyle, and assess both immediate and long-term goals before you seek out an architect. Develop a budget plan based on your needs and your future plans.
- Find a “Look.” Some architects have a signature style. As you drive around New Jersey’s villages, you will no doubt encounter new homes or home additions that provoke an “I could live there” response. Seek out the architect responsible for those designs if they strike a chord with you.
- Discuss the Nitty Gritty. As you interview architects, don’t be afraid to “pry.” Designing a home means that you will share some personal information with your architect. Be certain at the outset that you have the kind of understanding and mutual respect that will allow for open communication.
- Talk About Building. The plans don’t spring to life by themselves. Will your architect recommend contractors? Will the designer manage the project? Is your chosen architect a one-person shop or is there a team to supervise construction? Who will take final responsibility for making sure things get done, and done right?
- Lock in the Costs. Budget overruns and unrealistic expectations can derail a building project faster than a natural disaster. Take care of the financial matters early on, and the entire process can be smooth. Don’t shy away from dollar limits; insist on definitive contracts and full disclosure. Have an attorney look over all legal documents, for your own protection and to minimize any problems.
Whether you want to build new, add-on or simply update and improve an existing home, New Jersey’s abundance of character-filled villages and townships offers great opportunities. Getting a feel for the way an architect will approach your project will help you make proper decisions. Enthusiasm and creativity are contagious. When you are looking for a way to truly make your house a home, no matter which New Jersey community you choose, look for an architect who will encourage your ideas and who welcomes your input.
This video gives some great examples on why you should hire an architect and helpful tips on choosing the right one for you.
We’ve given you just a few of the questions you need to ask, now we want to show you how to find an architect quickly for those projects you just can’t wait any longer on.
HOW TO FIND A NEW JERSEY ARCHITECT IN JUST A FEW HOURS
You’ve decided to add on to your New Jersey home. You’ve calculated your budget. You know what you want, and you want to hire an NJ architect right now. However, determining how to find an architect can seem a little overwhelming. By following these tips, you will be able to sort through potential architects and hire one in just a few hours so that you can get started on your construction project.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA)
The AIA allows individuals to search for an architect in their local area. All you have to do is input your city and state or zip code and property type and click search. The AIA search engine will show you all of the registered architects in the area. Some entries even have a firm profile with past projects you can view. From this list of AIA registered architects, choose four or five you’d like to research further.
New Jersey Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The BBB’s search engine allows you to search by business name and location. From the list you created using the AIA directory for Morristown and Montclair, you should look for New Jersey architects that are BBB accredited. Being BBB accredited means the business must adhere to fair and honest business practices and successfully resolve all complaints. You want the business to have an A or an A+ rating. If they have complaints, especially unresolved complaints, it is important to read those complaints and any resolutions to see if this is a company you want to work with on your project.
Choose Three Architects from the Morristown or Montclair Areas
From your list of potential architects near Morristown or Montclair, choose three you would like to call and meet with in person. It is very important to both vet them on the phone and in-person. Once you hire your NJ architect, you will be spending a lot of time in their office and on the phone discussing your plans and viewing design ideas. You want to make sure that your personality and the architects personality mesh.
During your meeting, ask to see designs and photographs of finished projects. If you are renovating or adding to an older home, you’ll want to make sure the architect has experience with older homes.
Discuss Fees and Services
Individual architects in Montclair, Glen Ridge, Cedar Grove and the surrounding areas charge different fees for their services. Make sure you understand the architect’s fee schedule and the services provided before you make a final decision. If you need to, ask for a printout of fees and services and other documents you can take with you to help you make a final decision. This works even better if the architect can give you a detailed project estimate.
Hire an Architect in Cedar Grove
Think about all the architects you’ve spoken with, review their fees and services and look at your estimates. The cost to hire the architect should not be the deciding factor. Instead, you should look at the total package, review their past work and think about how well you meshed with each architect. Once you’ve thought about all the variables, including the architects experience and personality, hire your architect. This will save you time and money in getting your construction plans developed and finalized, and your architect may even be able to help you find a builder.
Many architects work with builders, and they know which builders are best for certain types of renovations and home additions. If needed, your architect may even be willing to function as a project manager.
If you would like to talk to an NJ architect immediately, you can always contact us here at Prime Draft Studio. We would be delighted to work with you.
Let’s discuss some ways to make sure you’re not only finding a great architect but that you’re finding the perfect architect to fit your personal needs on your project. This is a very important step when it comes to choosing an architect. There are a lot of really good architects out there, but finding the one that will work best with you is absolutely necessary.
4 WAYS TO FIND THE BEST NJ ARCHITECT FOR YOUR PROJECT
When it comes to finding the best architect near Montclair or Morristown NJ, it is imperative that you conduct careful research. You’ll not only want to speak with the architect, but you’ll also want to speak with people who have used the architect before. Fortunately, conducting research on architects in New Jersey isn’t difficult. In fact, here are a few tips you need to follow to ensure the best architect is chosen.
1. Take advantage of the internet
One of the best things about the Internet is that you can complete an online search for an architect in the Montclair and Morristown areas in a matter of only a few seconds. And not only can you find architects from New Jersey, but you can also find out-of-state architects who are willing to provide their services in The Garden State. It’s pertinent to remember to read through testimonials about the architects you are interested in, and the Internet makes it easy to read through these reviews. If you come across a negative review, you should ask the architect how he remedied the situation. No architect is perfect, but you want to make sure that the one you hire is willing to make things right in the event that you aren’t satisfied with the final results.
2. Look for specialty areas
If you’re searching for an architect to build a strip mall, you’ll want to steer clear of the ones who don’t have any prior experience in designing this type of property. Keeping this in mind, when you conduct your research, make sure to specific keywords that are related to the project you want to be completed. For example, when looking for an architect in Montclair to build a strip mall, you will want to go online and type Montclair architect strip mall in a search engine’s search box. The results that you are provided with will be relevant to the exact type of architect you are wanting. In the event that you have a project that has not been completed by many architects, you can always contact someone who has similar experience. This person should be able to direct you in the right direction.
3. Know which questions to ask
Once you find a few architects you are interested in hiring, you should complete a thorough assessment on each one. You may find that your most preferred NJ architect can’t adequately meet your needs, and it’s important to identify any issues before you sign a contract. Here’s a look at several questions you’ll want to include the assessment that you perform on each of the architects:
- Can you provide examples of past work?
- How should my project be approached?
- What obstacles will likely make themselves present during the design and construction processes?
- What types of fees are charged and when is payment expected?
- What types of payments are accepted?
- How long will it take to design and complete the project?
- Can you provide referrals from other architects?
4. Always ask about communication platforms
Lastly, when it comes to finding the best architect in New Jersey, you’ll want to ask each prospect architect about the forms of communication that he or she provides. You don’t want to hire an architect that provides business-only communication. Ideally, the architect that you choose will provide at least three forms of communication, including a personal cell phone number. Email and video conferencing is also preferred.
The next time you start a new home or building construction project, and you’re determining how to find an architect, use these tips to ensure you hire the best possible NJ architect that will get the job done right the first time around.
Better Homes and Gardens has some great suggestions when it comes to asking the right questions in order to find the best architect for your project.
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT NJ ARCHITECT FOR YOU
There might not be any online “dating services” designed to match clients to prospective architects, but there are some ways to sleuth out compatible architectural professionals. Tying the knot on a lasting relationship may take time, but it will be worth the effort in the end.
Just like marriages, perfect homes are not made in heaven; they take work and a bit of give and take on both sides. Remember that as you set off in search of architectural bliss.
Knowing Where to Look
Deciding where you want to live is based on many factors, not the least of which is your situation in life — age, employment, family status and, of course, financial status. Make an attempt to crystallize your own preferences in terms of neighborhoods. Think about your personal style — do you envision a sprawling ranch home in the suburbs or a slick condo in an urban setting? Think in generalities at this point rather than specifics. Next, consider your “inner house” and be willing not only to embrace it, but to “set it free.” A traditional clapboard in Montclair has the potential to harbor within its shell a modern, open-plan interior. Sand-in-your-toes informality might be a bit more difficult to achieve, however, in a golf course colonial in West Orange.
Knowing How to Look
Once you can identify potential zip codes, scout those areas to confirm their overall “rightness.” Look for development, design and construction signs, and keep a file of ideas as well as names. Look for ideas that make your heart sing and your spirits soar. Do some serious detective work: Ask friends, relatives and co-workers for recommendations. Chances are you’ll collect a lot of possible candidates. That’s a starting point. Scour the internet for design resources. If you’re wondering how to find an architect and don’t know where to start, check the New Jersey State Library Architect List to find candidates in your area, or contact a local chapter of the American Institute of Architects for a list of licensed members and their respective specialties. Remember that your perfect choice does not necessarily have to be from your hometown.
Making the First Move
Most architects will be happy to schedule a preliminary meeting. As Bob Vila of This Old House fame notes, an architect will “bring a global vision” to a “complicated process,” and should help you “pinpoint the goals” of your project. Look upon a first meeting as a blind date, a “coffee and a sandwich” encounter — speed dating. You will schedule longer, more definitive meetings later; be willing to take the time to get to know one another before moving on to the next step. Make sure your architect gets your basic vision, and is willing to accommodate your quirkiness. Talk about finances, and discuss mutual expectations and responsibilities.
The length of the “courtship” depends on a lot of variables. Whether you are adding a single room, embarking on a whole house remodel, tearing down the old and building new, or starting from scratch, there are a lot of details to handle. Your new, New Jersey home must conform to local requirements; it must also satisfy both your romantic soul and your practical nature. A binding contract will detail the scope of work, the timing, the expectations, the benchmarks, and the costs. A proper contract will also have provisions for performance standards and dispute resolution.
Happily Ever After
Watching your dream morph from preliminary lines drawn on a blank sheet of paper into “sticks and bricks” with an actual, physical presence should be happy days, whether your vision is a revolutionary design in Morristown, a minimalist expression of Euro-style in Fort Lee, or new construction amid the trees in Cedar Grove. Your professional architect holds the key to making that dream real.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR NEW JERSEY ARCHITECT IS A FIT FOR YOU
Finding an architect for your New Jersey home-addition project is a big choice to make. This professional will guide you through your venture from beginning to end and will require a sizable investment on your part for their services. But since each architect has his or her own specific design style and method of work, it’s important to find an NJ architect that meshes well with what you want to see in your completed project. You want to be sure that the choice you make is the right fit for you and your renovation/addition. In some cases, you may be better off with a small firm or a sole practitioner specializing in residential design. With a small firm, the person you first meet to go over your plans will most likely the same person working with you throughout your project. With a big firm, you may not get the same sort of personalized service.
An architect can produce more interesting and creative designs than you may have thought possible for your space. Their designs can produce high-functioning floor plans, exceptional natural lighting as well as ventilation, and exceptional integration with the building site. They can help avoid common errors in design or plan books, ensuring your project runs smoothly with limited hiccups. They can provide you with detailed plans that outline every change they suggest to make, and they will also have a detailed blueprint of your project so you can get a better visual of what your completed project will look like. These designs and blueprints will come with specs so you know how much you are spending and can keep on budget. Here are five steps to help you find the right architect for your project:
- Make a list of potential candidates.
When you’re wondering how to find an architect, word of mouth can really be a great tool for finding the right construction or design-based company. Talking with neighbors or people who have recently renovated their homes can be helpful in finding the names of architects who provide services within your area in New Jersey. The relationship between architect and homeowner is a very personal one. The architect will be working closely with you and will be working on your property, so it’s important to find someone who works well with you and understands your needs. Many architects will have a portfolio that you can look through to see their previous work and potentially pick up on their design style to see if it fits what you are looking for in terms of a project type.
- Research, research, research.
With the internet being the helpful tool that it is, it’s so easy to research. There are a lot of websites where you can look up local professionals within your area. The best part is that most of these websites include ratings by other clients, so you can see how the architects have performed in the past and if the clients were happy with the work that was completed. You can also search for architects within your Zip code and see what comes up. Spend some time searching the results, and write down any names or companies that fit with what you are looking for. Some professionals even have their portfolios online, so take your time and look through them to see their respective design styles.
- Check the credentials of your candidates.
Not all architects are required to be members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), which means they don’t all have to subscribe to the same code of conduct or ethics. But you want to be sure that the NJ architect you hire is going to do everything by the book. An architect should know the necessary permits needed to complete the job in your town while keeping a clear eye on the project’s outcome.
Architects can also recommend qualified contractors to turn your design plans into reality. Your architect will know several contractors they have worked with before and get along with well, which will benefit you in terms of time and money. The more efficient your design-build team is, the less time and money you’ll be spending. The architect can also handle the tough aspects of your project including contract negotiations, which can leave you with a good and cooperative relationship with your contractor.
- Ask questions.
As we’ve mentioned above, it is very important to make sure you’re asking all of the right questions. As the homeowner, it is normally your job to keep an eye on everything happening with your project. When you hire an architect, it becomes their job to ensure that everything is going according to plan. Before you hire an architect, here are some questions to ask them:
- Who will I be directly working with?
- How much experience do they have with residential projects/renovations?
- What is the square footage construction price for this type of project?
- What specific services do you offer and are you open to providing only the services that I require?
- How do you prefer to collaborate/communicate with clients?
- What thoughts do you have about my project?
- How long will it take to get the necessary building permits, design, and construction?
- Are there any red flags that jump out at you in regard to my project?
- How would you approach this project?
- What are some of the largest obstacles on a project of this size or specific design?
Don’t be afraid to ask all sorts of questions. The more you ask, the better idea you’ll have about the style and philosophy of the architect working on your project. No question is stupid or unfounded. It’s important to find the right person who matches their style with what you need and doesn’t twist your arm into changing plans into the way they want them. If they make suggestions for certain things they see as problematic in your project, that’s a good sign that they are trying to accommodate your needs while remaining true to the function of the space.
- Make your final decision.
It’s ultimately your choice in how you choose an architect. While their services may seem expensive, their expertise could actually lower the final cost of the completed project. And as you’re researching and interviewing potential architects, it’s fine to go with your gut feeling. You’ll be spending a lot of time together working on your project, so you want someone you trust and are comfortable with. Keep your budget in mind at all times, and don’t allow anyone to coerce you into adding things you don’t need or want. The right professional will take into account your needs and will make suggestions along the way for potential additions that make sense—for both your design and your budget. It’s your choice and your project, so take the necessary time to make a choice—and don’t ever rush into anything just because you want the project completed.
The last tips we have for you are all about the money. Sticking to a budget is the most important thing when it comes to a new home build or addition, and we want to help make sure you have the most knowledge when it comes to managing the costs for your project.
5 TIPS FOR MANAGING HOME CONSTRUCTION COSTS IN NEW JERSEY
You’ve made the right choice by choosing to build your home in New Jersey! After all, the state provides beautiful beaches, fantastic school systems, and many top hospitals. Plus, you’ll get your fair share of cultural experiences at delicious restaurants and outdoor festivals.
After choosing the ideal spot, whether that be in a beach town, small town, or even a city, you’ll need to start the home planning process. Remember to think about your needs in a home, like personal priorities, function, and comfort. It’s easy to get carried away with frills while going way over budget due to the excitement. However, there are a few ways you can make sure you stay in line.
5 WAYS TO MANAGE CONSTRUCTION COSTS
2. Understand Your Estimates Early
Before you begin planning, do your homework and make sure you understand the entire construction process. Then you can start acquiring estimates which are important when planning your dream home. Knowing how much certain building supplies cost will give you an opportunity to modify your initial plans to stay within budget.
2. Get A Great NJ Architect
Don’t underestimate the role of a quality architect or contractor in a building project. He/she can listen to your ideas and plan them out according to budget. Make sure you compile references while researching a handful of builders. An unreliable architect may impede timelines or mismanage his/her subcontractors which means you will have to foot the bill later. Great building planners will not only stick to your budget, but also find ways to get the most bang for your buck during the process.
3. Do Some of the Work
Contractors and builders don’t have to do the work you can do yourself. For example, painting, yard work, and applying wallpaper are just some of the ways you can keep prices in check. Installing fixtures in bathrooms and kitchens, though time-consuming, saves you thousands of dollars while also giving you valuable insight into the workings of your home. If something breaks, you’ll know how to fix it!
4. Source Materials
Though contractors have access to discounted materials, you should still check in with local lumberyards to see if you can find an even better deal. Also, use recycled materials to reduce costs even further. Try to find common elements like recycled steel, sawdust, and cement. Visit some salvage warehouses where you might find everything else you’re looking for like windows, doors, and lights. Furthermore, you can take care of the finishing touches of your home construction afterward or just save them for later. Leaving a garage unfinished reduces costs and time while giving you the chance to think about future plans.
5. Know When and When Not to Splurge
Building a new home creates excitement and anticipation of the many possibilities presented to you. However, it’s important to remember your budget while discerning between a frill and a need. In the beginning, forego the gold-plated faucets and crystal chandeliers and head down to your local hardware store for more budget-friendly options. Items like these can always be changed later on! However, splurge a bit on those household features that will make a difference in the long run towards your quality of living like appliances or a sturdy roof. Skimping on these items will cost you even more as time goes by!
Managing home construction costs remains a difficult challenge for most homeowners. High-end fixtures, no initial research, and settling on a contractor will put you in a financial hole before you know it. Since this is your home, awareness, and knowledge throughout the process will give you the upper hand when negotiating your budget. Also, knowing and weighing the value of different price tags will ensure a predictable bill when you finally get to move into your perfect New Jersey home!