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 everyday. 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 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 to 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 architect 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 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.

“Just wanted you to know the design is the best! We absolutely love it!!! Please come by to see it whenever you can!!!..”
-Nikola