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building a house

Hiring An Architect in Toronto

150 150 Nisha Muire

There is some essential information you need when hiring an architect in Toronto – or anywhere else for that matter! Asking the right questions will ensure that you pair up with an architect who best suits your needs, your style and your budget. Although you might imagine that all architects provide the same kind of service, the truth is, every architect has their own vision and their own unique style. Knowing what to ask will definitely help when making a choice that will influence your project, your build and your future more than you would expect.

1) What is your style?

Ask to see different projects that the architect you are interviewing has worked on to see if their style of design matches your own sensibilities. If you prefer a charming, traditional style of home and the architect specializes in sleek, modern buildings, then you will not be happy with the outcome.

2) Budget?

Architects are paid a percentage of the overall project budget. How large that percentage is will depend on the renown of the firm/architect and the services that are included with the price. Usually the total cost of a project is hard to determine up front, so many architects will charge an hourly rate or a flat retainer fee to be paid monthly. Once the project is completed, then they will adjust the fee according to the overall cost. Expect to pay between 5-20% of the project’s cost.

3) Will you be designing my project?

Unless you are working with a small, proprietor-owned firm, the person you meet with to hire the firm will not be the same as the person designing your project – this is a very important consideration. Designing is a fluid process that will require a lot of communication between yourself and the designer, so be sure to find out how accessible the designer of the project will be to answer your questions, make revisions and to make suggestions.

4) Ancillary services

Find out what kind of ancillary services your architect offers. From getting the right work permits to hiring the contractors to checking up on the work happening at the job site – some architects will do it all and some won’t. If you want someone who will take care of everything for you, then be up front about your requirements. If your architect cannot provide this for you, then you can move on to a firm that will act as project manager.

5) Can they provide 3D renderings of your project?

Some people might be able to visualize a finished project by simply looking at blueprints, but if you are not such a person, then find out whether the architect can provide 3D renderings of the finished project. Larger numbers of firms are using such software to better illustrate their plans. It is a good way to see whether you and the architect are on the same page stylistically and architecturally.

Some other information to obtain from an architect is whether they can suggest good contractors for the work you need done. Architects usually have access to a few contractors with whom they work well and who are reliable.

Finding an architect can be done by consulting Architecture Canada’s directory found here https://raic.org/members-directory, talking to local contractors, asking friends and family and looking them up online.

As long as you do your due diligence, you will find the architect that suits you best – both stylistically and financially.

Building your Own Home in Toronto

150 150 Nisha Muire

Building your own home can be a very exciting project to take on – it can also be very stressful and expensive if you are not fully prepared for it. Knowing your costs up front and budgeting more than you expect is a good place to start. However, if you know that you won’t have time to go to the job site every day, to oversee the contractors and to ensure that the work is going according to plan, then it is best to hire a good project manager to help you out.

There are two kinds of costs involved with the construction of a house – the hard costs and the soft costs. The hard costs are the prices given to you by the contractors for their work, the cost of the materials, land, etc… The soft costs include legal fees, architect or engineering fees, building application fees, soil testing, etc… While most people know about the hard costs, the soft costs can easily tack on an extra $20,000 to the price of your new build. The soft costs are very similar to the closing costs associated with a resale home purchase.

Another aspect you need to include in your costs will be the cost of preparing your land to be built on. If it isn’t cleared you will need to clear it, then add a septic tank or pay to have it hooked up to the local sewer/water supply. You will also need to pay to have it hooked up to the local electrical grid.

You can find a good building costs calculator over here //bit.ly/199wCAK.

Architect or Prefab
Knowing your costs can only be done if you have a plan from which to build. There are two options when it comes to a plan – buying a prefab home where the plan is already included in the housing kit or hiring an architect. An architect will be able to help you design the house of your dreams and will also, in the majority of cases, be able to provide you with the cost estimates for the project as well. Larger architectural firms will also act as the project manager for you. If you go with the prefab option, then they will give you the choice of building it yourself or having them build it for you.

Proper Permits
Building your own home will require the proper documentation at the local and municipal level so that you don’t get fined subsequently. You can read more about Toronto building permits over here //bit.ly/199vxc3.

Finding the right contractors for your project is also crucial to ensuring that costs remain on target and the project moves along as scheduled. It is important to find reputable contractors who will be present for the entirety of the project and not sub-contract the work out to someone else. You can find a list of contractors at the Ontario Contractors website at www.ontariocontractors.com.
Building your own home can be a terrific experience as long as you are financially and mentally prepared for it.