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Investing in Good Architecture: Is It Worth It?


Investing in Good Architecture: Is It Worth It?

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Holland Green | OMA

GROWTH | architecture | june 2024

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investing in Architecture | building's added value

Reading time: 13 minutes

Investing in Good Architecture

Whether you’re looking to buy a house, or build a new house, addition, or take on a major renovation, you’ve probably questioned whether you should talk to an architect for your project. Is the architectural design worth more money?

Sure, taking on a new construction project is a huge investment. It may be the largest investment you’ll ever make. For that reason alone, don’t you want to be careful about how you spend all that money? Shouldn’t you be deliberate in the planning and design of your project to save money? Are you wondering how you create the best project possible, with the budget you currently have, add value over time, and still save money on your project?

When investing in a property, it’s natural to focus on purchase price, expected rents, capital gains, time to ROI, etc. But experienced property investors know there is more to consider than just the financials. Investing in quality architecture and design can provide real value that translates both to your bottom line and your overall living experience. Architects have a unique skill set and expertise to provide various benefits to you and your project. But how do those benefits translate into added value and cost savings to you – savings that are valued at more than the cost of an architect’s fee?

Defining “Good Architecture”

Before looking at its benefits, it’s important to understand what exactly we mean by “good architecture.” At its core, it’s design that considers far more than just aesthetics and appearance. Good architecture incorporates thoughtful considerations such as:

Functionality – Does the layout meet the needs of those living in the home? Is there adequate space for different uses?

Context – How does the design fit within the surrounding landscape and neighborhood? Does it complement or enhance what’s nearby?

Aesthetics – Is there a cohesive design language that’s visually appealing?

Flexibility – Can the space adapt to changing needs over time?

Cost Effectiveness – Does the design make smart use of the construction budget?

The best architectural design brings all these elements together in a holistic way.

Why Invest in Good Architecture?

There are many potential benefits that come with investing in well-conceived architecture for your landed property. It’s hard to measure cost savings and put an economic value on investing in good architecture and design. Good design and the values it brings don’t always translate into actual tangible dollar savings right away. These first two ways architects add value focus predominantly on qualitative values, ones that are harder to measure, but over the long haul, these can have significant impacts. Let’s look at some of the top perks.

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Sneglehusene Housing | BIG

Improved Quality of Life, Well-Being & Health

One way architects add value is by simply creating a house you’ll enjoy living, working, and growing in, because a more enjoyable home experience increases happiness, health, and overall well-being. Beyond increased property value, good design improves your daily life at home in tangible ways. Aesthetic details like beautiful landscaping and indoor-outdoor connections let you enjoy your surroundings. The right design considers how your family lives day-to-day. Little design touches you appreciate every time you come home translate to a meaningful impact on your lifestyle and wellbeing.

Better Quality of Life, Well-Being & Health = Healthier & Happier YOU (AND lower medical bills)

• A good architect will provide adequate air and light quality in your spaces. Providing fresh air and appropriate light levels for specific tasks will reduce glare and eye strain.

• A better-equipped space with the appropriate HVAC system, light levels, and acoustical properties keep you, your eyes, ears, and body healthy and can prevent expensive medical expenses.

• Physical safety is also important. Architects design safe spaces that minimize falling, tripping, and slipping. These risks have associated medical costs as well that can be minimized or eliminated.

• A good architect will design spaces for equal access among users. Whether spaces must accommodate persons with mental or physical disabilities or for aging-in-place situations, anticipating and designing features for easy adaptability and flexibility will improve user comfort, safety, and livability while also saving on costly renovations down the road.

One way architects add value is by simply creating a house you’ll enjoy living, working, and growing in.

Improved Productivity, Functionality & Efficiency

Another way architects add value and save you money is by improving productivity, functionality, and efficiency in your home. Oftentimes it’s hard to directly see the correlation of value and savings that improved performance can have but make no mistake, there are savings there.

For example, a good architect will work with you to lay out spaces and functions in your home in a more optimized and logical manner; listen to how you describe your behaviors, tendencies, and workflows and create an ideal layout of space for you and your family. The personalized layout will help make you more efficient and productive; carving out more time to focus on other more important activities, like spending time with family, friends, or hobbies. An efficient use of space can reduce your home’s total square footage, and as a result, reduce the overall construction and maintenance costs.

Improved Productivity, Functionality & Efficiency = More Time to Spend Doing What You Love (AND lower construction & maintenance costs)

There are many ways that an architect can help increase your productivity or make tasks more functional in the house. Here are a few more examples:

• By understanding how you use your kitchen, an architect can lay out space more efficiently to minimize distances between appliances and certain areas where you find yourself spending a lot of time. In addition, a layout can be created that accommodates more storage space if you have specific storage needs.

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Dolunay Villa | Foster & Partners

• If you spend a lot of time doing laundry, an architect can find an optimal place for your washer and dryer that minimizes the amount of travel distance to and from the laundry machines. Simply locating the laundry area in a more optimal space for you will make you more efficient and productive in your normal cleaning routines.

• If you’re a morning person and perform at your best in the morning, an architect may suggest locating your bedroom on the east side of the house where the morning sun would be. You may find that you are waking up an hour earlier naturally with the sunrise and accomplishing more tasks than before. Or if you live or work more efficiently with lots of natural light, an architect can work to incorporate this into the design to maximize the benefits of natural daylight in the spaces.

A good architect will efficiently lay out spaces in such a way to optimize the overall size of your home. Reducing the square footage of your home while still providing adequate spaces for your needs will always cost less than an inefficient larger home.

In addition, a good architect can work to carve out usable space in an area otherwise seen as wasted space. Providing additional storage or programmable space without increasing the size of the home is always good. Improving the space utilization (ratio of gross square footage to net usable square footage) of your home may also be desirable. Who wants to pay for unusable space? Who wants to heat and cool unusable space?

A good architect can turn unused spaces into usable spaces.
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House NO.01 | USE Studio

Energy Efficiency

Features like ample natural light, cross ventilation, solar panels, and climate-responsive landscaping reduce utility costs over the long run. Energy modeling done during the design process can optimize efficiency. Investing in this sustainability pays dividends through lower electricity and water bills for decades. High performance homes also help future-proof your investment against rising energy costs.

Future Flexibility

One hallmark of quality architecture is the ability to adapt to changing needs over time. For instance, flexible floor plans make it simple down the road to convert a study into a bedroom or add an entire new wing. Thoughtful layout leaves room for inevitable changes in how you use the space as your family grows. This flexibility extends the usable lifetime of your home.

Neighborhood Impact

In addition to benefits for your individual property, investment in good design can raise surrounding home values. An attractive, well-designed focal home improves the curb appeal of the entire neighborhood. Well-conceived architecture shows you care about your community. It signals a level of quality that nearby homeowners want to match. In this way, your investment contributes to a positive development cycle.

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Summer Villa House | Sweco Architectstects

Lower Construction Costs

An architect can help create a home design with affordability in mind. Efficient floor plans, simple home designs, and cost-effective material selections are just a few of the ways architects can help reduce construction costs. Architects also review cost and performance information about different wall assemblies and materials and design a house that minimizes costs while providing adequate performance.

Cost-Effective Home Design = Lower Construction Costs

In addition, architects help get your ideas down on paper and flush out the design before construction is underway. Making changes during the design process is much less expensive than during construction when changes could be costly to implement. This also means accounting for code and zoning regulations early on so that you don’t have to change things during construction when the building inspector spots them.

Early Design Planning & Decision Making = Lower Construction Costs

Put simply: Good design sells.

A well-designed house has a higher market value, resale value, and is a better investment than most traditional homes. Because an architect has improved the functionality, efficiency, and visual appeal of the home, in most cases, property values increase.

Good Design = Higher Market Value & Better Investment

For these reasons and the reasons mentioned throughout this article, an architect can add tremendous value to your project. The question should not be “How much does an architect cost”, it should be “How much can an architect save me, and what would my return on investment be?”

Sure, good design does have its price, but it pays for itself over the building’s lifetime.

Addressing the Counterarguments

Constructing a well-designed custom landed property does incur greater upfront costs when compared to more cookie-cutter development. Top architectural talent and quality materials cost more. However, viewing good design as a long-term investment changes the math. You recoup the premium paid through higher property value, lower operating costs, and decades of enjoying a high-performance home tailored to your needs.

Some argue investing in design is simply a matter of subjective tastes. But the elements that comprise good architecture go far beyond surface aesthetics. Thoughtful architecture contributes to quality of life based on research in environmental psychology and neuroscience. Emphasizing factors like natural light, ventilation, spatial flow, and integration with nature improve measurable outcomes related to wellbeing, productivity, and health. Leading architectural firms can quantify these impacts.

the elements that comprise good architecture go far beyond surface aesthetics.

Tips for Investing in Good Architecture

Research Architects Thoroughly

The key is finding the right qualified architectural partner. Review examples of previous projects closely to ensure a firm’s sensibilities match your own. Look for demonstrated design skills beyond just an attractive portfolio. Do they articulate a design process and philosophy you connect with?

• Communicate Your Needs and Wants

Have an open dialogue with your chosen architect. Convey must-have features based on your family’s lifestyle and how you envision using the home. Be transparent about your budget constraint. But stay open to the architect’s ideas as well – tap into their expertise about maximizing site potential and functionality. The most successful custom homes come from active collaboration between owner and architect.

Prioritize Sustainability

Work with your architect to integrate green building features from the start. Sustainable elements like solar panels, rainwater harvesting, green roofs, passive cooling, and native landscaping pay environmental and financial dividends. A sustainability-focused design avoids expensive retrofits down the road. The small premium paid results in superior comfort and energy savings each month.

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Five Peaks Lookout | Scott Edwards Architecture

Invest in Quality Materials

Be willing to pay for premium materials to support the design vision. Higher grade finishes like hardwood flooring, quartz countertops, cedar siding, and triple-glazed windows last longer and look better over time. Lifecycle cost analysis often shows quality materials are a smart investment considering their exceptional durability. Don’t cut corners on materials to the detriment of the design.

Good architecture certainly requires greater upfront investment – engaging top design talent and integrating premium materials does cost more. But few long-term investments in your property pay off as well in enhancing value, reducing operating costs, and improving daily life. For those looking to construct their dream custom home, quality architecture is worth every cent.

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Chahargah House | Bonnarq Architects
Lifecycle cost analysis often shows quality materials are a smart investment considering their exceptional durability.

Questions to Ask When Evaluating Architectural Firms

If you’ve decided to invest in quality architecture, how exactly should you go about selecting the right firm? Here are key questions to ask during your evaluation process:

• What sets your projects apart? Seek a firm with a passion for innovation and a distinctive design language that excites you. Avoid cookie-cutter.

• How will you incorporate my needs and vision? The best architects collaborate closely rather than dictating the design. Expect a lot of dialogue.

• Can you share reviews from past clients? Check references carefully to ensure a track record of satisfied customers.

• How long have you been operating? Look for ample experience plus awards and media recognition.

• Do you have examples of homes in my area? Local experience results in designs attuned to neighborhood context. Nearby projects make site visits possible too.

• What are your qualifications and background? Dig into the head architect’s education, certifications, and past firms. A top-notch resume inspires confidence.

• Is sustainability a priority in your designs? Given rising energy costs, high-performance design using passive principles is a smart long-term investment.

• What sets your construction approach apart? Seek designers who remain actively involved throughout the construction process to ensure the design vision becomes reality.

By asking the right questions, you can zero in on the architecture firm best equipped to deliver a home that aligns with your personal needs, lifestyle, and taste.

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Villa Asker | A-Lab

Key Takeaways

Investing in quality architecture offers landed home owners compelling benefits that make the upfront costs worthwhile, including:

• Increased property value from superior design

• Reduced energy expenses thanks to sustainability features

• Enhanced daily lifestyle from spaces tailored to your needs

• Future flexibility to adapt to changing uses over time

• Positive impact on surrounding property values

But realizing these benefits requires thorough research to choose the right architectural firm, transparent communication of your vision, a willingness to pay for premium materials, and viewing architecture as a long-term investment that will pay dividends for decades to come. By taking the time upfront to invest in thoughtful design, you can maximize livability, reduce environmental impact, and boost potential resale value down the road.

Investing in quality architecture offers landed home owners compelling benefits that make the upfront costs worthwhile.

When weighing the costs and benefits of quality architecture, consider both the financial return in added property value as well as the priceless memories created through decades spent in inspiring spaces that enhance daily life. With proper research and planning, a well-executed architectural design acts as a lifelong investment that rewards you every time you return home.

In conclusion, investing in a professional architectural design is an important decision for any business or homeowner. Professional architects have the experience and knowledge to create a functional and aesthetically pleasing building, space, or structure that meets the needs of the client. They can also help save time and money by determining the best materials and methods for the project, and ensuring that the building meets building codes. Investing in a professional architectural design is an investment that will pay dividends for many years to come.

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Citylife Apartments | Zaha Hadid

To create added value in real estate, investing in good architecture and quality design can help both your profit and your life experience. MINE will be by your side in this way to increase the value of the building and save money by providing the necessary tools.

Sources used for this content:

adxarchitects | yr-architecture