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Career Story: Architect For Home Construction

Architect For Home Construction

Job Title: Architect

Type of Company: I design residential construction projects: houses, additions, renovations. No commercial or institutional buildings, just homes.

Education: B. Architecture, Pratt Institute

Previous Experience: Worked in costruction during summers in High School. Worked in several architectural positions after college. Sold real estate for several years before starting my own residential design firm.

Job Tasks: My typical project is to design an addition/renovation for a family home. I meet the owners to discuss their objectives, what they like and dislike about their house, their needs, lifestyle, and taste. I measure the existing house very carefully to document the existing structure, then prepare base drawings (plans and elevations). Then I draw schematic solutions drawings to show the clients what the remodeled home will roughly look like. After agreeing on a workable solution, I detail the drawings to make them ready for contractor bids and for building department review before issuing a building permit.

The finished set of drawings must satisfy several requirements. They must be sufficiently detailed to form the basis of a contract between the client and the builder, so the client understands what their buying, and the builder understands what's expected of him or her. The drawings must also satisfy the town building inspector's need to determine that the project will meet all zoning and building code requirements. My work must often be coordinated with the work of other professionals. For instance, a land surveyor will typically prepare a site plan showing where the building will sit on the property; and a structural engineer may contribute calculations and specifications to the structural framing plans that determine how the structure (beams and columns) will be soundly built.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is creatively solving problems to give people solutions that help them enjoy living in their houses. Preparing beautiful drawings depicting nice looking buildings (existing or proposed) offers a great deal of satisfaction. The worst part of the job is struggling with time and budget. I can only allow myself a limited amount of time to get the work done in a timely fashion that the client can afford. And the construction itself is limited to budgeted dollars as well.

Job Tips:
1. It's good to have some construction trades experience (even summer jobs) as early as possible to learn some practical aspects of construction. 2. Don't be afraid of mathematics and engineering components to preparing to be a designer - it's not that bad.

3. Travel and see buildings wherever possible, watch people use buildings; be aware of spacial qualities of buildings and rooms (heights, volume, views, finishes, etc.)

Additional Thoughts: An architectural background can take many different career paths: engineering, construction, real estate development, art/architecture history, teaching. Be open to many disciplines and possibilities; see yourself as part of a team effort, being creative but cooperative as well. Building design is a practical art, creative but not whimsical, usually.

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