For many, their concept of the architectural design process has only been shaped by what they see on HGTV or other design oriented reality TV. Unfortunately, this can create some unrealistic expectations. If you watch these shows, you may be fooled into thinking that the designer comes with a large construction crew and over the weekend, dramatically remodels the house. What is missing from these shows is the weeks, and more often months, of preparation the producers of these shows have put into setting up this false "reality".
Architecture takes time. It is a labor intensive process that requires many hours, and sometimes hundreds or thousands of hours, to carefully consider the thousands of little decisions that must be made in order to properly design such a complex living machine as a building.
Single family homes are no exception to this complexity. They contain so many different "systems" that each need to be coordinated and properly designed by a team of professionals to make sure they function properly. The architect, while portrayed by Hollywood as the heroic artist who draws these pretty pictures of buildings, is just as much a technician and engineer as he/she is an artist.
Consider the example of a typical 3,000 square foot single family residence built on an empty lot. On an efficiently designed process, it may take 6-8 weeks for the design process. Then, the building permit process may take yet another 6-8 weeks. This is if everything goes smoothly. If not, then it could take much longer depending on the city or county, the encumbrances on the property, the availability of financing, etc. This is why we highly suggest paying an architect for consultation that includes an analysis of the project parameters and property in question.
If everything goes smoothly, here is a typical design process for a single family residence:
Each project is different. Make sure you consult with your architect and be honest about your budget. Some people worry that an architect will always over design a project making it unaffordable. If you don't tell your architect your budget, then over design is a guarantee.
Another common mistake homeowners make is having an appetite for caviar on a spam budget. Be realistic in your expectations. A good architect will help you find the best use of your money to meet your most highly prioritized desires.