Looking to move? You might be surprised by who can help.

By Archer & Buchanan Architecture By Archer & Buchanan Architecture | May 15, 2023 | Home & Real Estate Sponsored Post

There’s no place like home. Scot Gordon Photography

You’ve fallen in love with the perfect piece of land with gorgeous views and a little stream bubbling through the property. Or maybe it’s an old home with enough charm to last a lifetime. You have your realtor. You’re ready to make an offer. You’re excited. But you’re also poised to make a huge investment of time and money. Are you making the right choice?

Enter the architect. Not the professional most people associate with the real estate acquisition process, but one who can play an informative role by working with realtors and clients to evaluate the appropriateness of a property before purchase.

In today’s competitive market, buyers feel pressured to react quickly. “In numerous instances,” says Michele Thackrah, a partner at Archer & Buchanan Architecture, “we were able to help clients with their property search process and avoid hasty and frankly terrible decisions.”

If building new, you’re probably armed with dozens of inspo photos and are certain you know exactly what your dream home should be. But before any of that can come to fruition, there are some less fun but crucial aspects to consider.

For instance, site should be evaluated for the ability to maximize light and views, minimize heat gain, and avoid drainage issues. Will there be room to expand later through an addition to the home or by adding other features or structures? Knowing the site’s potential limitations and opportunities along with the needs of the client, an architect can make preliminary suggestions about design direction based on what is feasible and appropriate.

Thoughtful positioning and design capitalize on view. Don Pearse Photographers

“There are so many things to consider in the evaluation process,” notes Archer & Buchanan Architecture founding partner, Richard Buchanan. “As architects we are accustomed to running through this mental checklist and quickly identifying both the merits and flaws in a property and envisioning what could be successful as a potential design solution.”

Perspective sketch of a potential new home design.

Is there existing access to utilities? An architect can explain the process and expense for connecting to public utilities or exploring alternatives. Also, building codes and ordinances can vary from one municipality to the next. How they affect the current and future development of the land should be identified early.

If it’s the older existing charmer that won your heart, an architect can determine from both qualitative and quantitative standpoints if the space is adequate as is or suggest alterations that will achieve goals. Also, an architect can determine if alterations are viable from a design and construction perspective and provide cost estimates to assess financial feasibility.

18th century farmhouse room transformed into double height library. Jim Graham (image on left) and Jeffrey Totaro (image on right)

Present structural soundness is critical, but also should be evaluated for the ability to accommodate future additions or renovations. Additionally, while quick to judge the aesthetics of the building envelope, folks don’t always assess the present condition and expected longevity of the parts. Fixes or replacements can be complicated and expensive, so best to identify issues before purchase.

1830s farmhouse undergoes extensive exterior restoration. Don Pearse Photographers (image on right)

And, as with purchasing land, site conditions as well as local codes and ordinances should be reviewed for any existing home being considered.

Whether assisting with the evaluation of an existing home or of land for a new custom home, Archer & Buchanan Architecture brings over a quarter century of invaluable residential design experience to the process. Involving us early in the property search helps clients to see possibilities, avoid pitfalls, and save time by having an architect up-to-speed before the real estate transaction is even complete!

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