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Do I Need an Architect to Draw Plans?

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To hire an architect or not to? That’s a long-standing dilemma faced by many homeowners in America. On one end of the spectrum, homeowners who are on the side of hiring an architect appreciate the value a professional brings to the table. On the other side you’ll have a group of people who are against hiring one, citing the high cost of an architect and deeming an architect more of a luxury than a necessity. 

But where do you draw the line? How do I decide between whether to find an architect to design my home or settle for a home builder or general contractor? In other words, do I need an architect to draw plans? 

If we’re being frank, not every home building project requires the services of an architect. However, there are cases where hiring one is your only option. For example, your state or local municipal regulations may require an architect to sign off on the plans. You’ll also need an architect if you’re not confident making building choices on your own or with the help of a qualified general contractor. 

Local Municipal Regulations

In some cases, the decision to hire an architect online or not isn’t up to you. Some states, cities, and even homeowners associations in the US require you to source a professional architect to sign off on your remodeling or building plans. Illinois is one such state that requires you to hire a licensed architect to oversee your building plans.

To ensure you’re operating on the right side of the law, it’s necessary to check out what your local government has to say on the issue. That’s because these regulations differ from state to state and even city to city. Failure to do so, could result in denied permission, or even forced demolition if you didn’t consult the proper authorities first. 

That said, many local building authorities don’t require an architect to sign off on your building plans. But if you stay in urban or densely populated metropolitan areas, chances are you might need one. If by any chance, your state doesn’t require a licensed architect and you trust the builder or contractor with the plans, you’re free to go that route. 

If You’re Not Comfortable Making Building Choices

Not everyone is comfortable making extensive building or remodeling choices regarding their home, and that’s okay. After all, you might have one shot at building or remodeling your dream home, and you don’t want to blow it. If that’s you, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t hire a professional to handle the job. Remember that architects are trained for the task and know how to formulate building plans that are safe and functional. 

That is especially true when the remodeling process is complex. Such projects require a lot of decisions and know-how; decisions which you may know nothing about. A licensed and professional architect will advise you and give you knowledgeable insight on how to bring the vision of your dream home to life. You may get away with making a few decisions on your own or with the help of a licensed contractor regarding simple remodeling projects such as basic touch-ups or adding an island to your kitchen and making the counter a bit longer to give you more space.

Freeing up Space or Making Full Additions?

Do you have a space in your home that’s underutilized? For example, turning a closet you don’t use into a bathroom without making a full addition to your home’s square footage? Then you probably don’t need an architect. Because in some cases, what looks like a shortage of space is merely a layout problem that needs a few tweaks. A general contractor should easily be able to assess the situation and make the necessary modifications.

Is it your goal to add a second floor to your home, or perhaps double the square footage of a single story home if you have the land space? In this case architects can be useful as not only do they possess a technical understanding, they are trained to take an existing floor plan and create a detailed addition from a creative angle to fit the existing look of your home, or update it to look more modern. They will also come up with a strategy on how best to approach the task.


If cost concerns are top of your list, the decision of whether to hire an architect or not can be a difficult one. You could get away with doing it yourself or using a general contractor if it’s a small task. But if it’s a complex remodeling job that requires a lot of design aesthetics, large additions to square footage, and matching or updating the style of your current home, you’re better off leaving the job to a certified architect. 

Once again, always check your local building regulations and don’t be afraid to call city hall before spending your hard earned money. Working with an architect will ensure the job is designed correctly – the first time. Not only will you end up with an aesthetically pleasing but also functional space, the result is likely to send your next home appraisal valuation through the roof!

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