One-Stop-Shop vs. Individual Architects & Engineers for Your New Home

Homeowners, this article will provide details on the benefits and challenges you may meet depending on whether you hire an independent architect and engineer versus a one-stop-shop engineering and architectural team, like Design Everest.

Building your dream home or renovating requires a variety of professionals to be involved.

Let’s take a look at what type of team is best for you!

Home Architect

The first component of hiring a home architect is an architect’s background.

Architects earn their degree from an accredited architectural program, complete an internship, and pass exams in order to receive their license to practice within their state. This rigorous process should ensure that your architect possesses a certain level of design expertise, knowledge of materials, and understanding of building systems.

Can Architectural and Structural Design can reduce your Projects Budget? Read how.

Architects typically work with a variety of individuals at their firms. This could include architectural designers who have instructional and experiential knowledge of architectural design but do not possess a license. Also, drafters who are trained on computer-aided design (CAD) programs to produce design plans typically certified or stamped by a licensed architect.

Architect use CAD for Accurate Drawing | Design Everest

The other main component to consider with a home architect is the assessment of fees.

The fee range for architects can be $2k-$10k, depending on the level of complexity the new home entails. While this fee is a loose approximation of the monetary value to secure your architect, it can be influenced by other things such as the area of your project, its complexity and the size of your choice of architectural firm.

Some firms may be top-level performers, so in the nature of true capitalism – their rates may exceed average rates. All architect firms have the ability to create their own pricing baseline. Some of those approaches are hourly rates for work (do not forget the technician and the drafter), percentage based on overall construction project, or they may base their fee on the square footage of the new home.

To begin to work on a project for a new home or a renovation, an architect will do an initial consultation to get an idea of what you will need to do.

Read: Role of an Architect in building a house

If you do decide to onboard the architect, the preliminary design begins. Preliminary design is not only a process with your architect but also a process with the city you live in.

From there, the architect can visit the site and develop a sketch to give a general idea of the project layout. This is often the stage to introduce a site engineer who advises on building placement in terms of grading, drainage, and utility connections. During the next phase, the architect works with you to go over the finishes and features of the home.

This process is for you, so the architect is aware of the design you are considering. The architect then takes your design and develops a feasible plan. As mentioned earlier, architects have a good grasp of building systems and materials. They also have individuals who work with them to create renderings and CAD models to draw up plans and show you the home you envision.

Now that we are in the process of building the vision, we can go over the benefits and challenges.

Home Engineers

Certain projects may require engineers early-on due to diagnosis of structural issues or the fire department requesting addition of an access road or even potential hazardous grading that needs an engineer to certify the slopes.

Residential structural engineers typically are engineers that have a degree in civil with an emphasis in structural or a structural engineering degree. These engineers complete the process to be licensed in California, which includes being a Professional Engineer (PE) –  also, some professional engineers get a Structural Engineer (SE) license.

Wait, Confused! This article will help you understand when to hire a Civil Engineer over a Structural Engineer.

You may not recognize the need for an engineer until the building plan application for your home requires structural calcs or a geotechnical report analyzing the soil’s structural properties on the development. If you wait to engage an engineer, it may end up causing delays in the overall permitting schedule. These are technical issues that a skilled engineer needs to be hired on for. Although hiring engineers will require an additional fee, onboarding or having an engineer readily available is worth it. If you seek an engineer at the last minute, it can end up being more expensive because the schedule is much tighter.

We will now go over some of the benefits and challenges:

New Home Plans

Now that we understand the role of an architectural team and an engineering team in the process of getting building plans completed for a new home, we can look at how these different but equally important needs can be handled. Some firms only have licensed architects, whereas a consulting firm like Design Everest can provide the architect, engineer, and project management team needed to complete the full design of the project from initial to final – including staying onboard for design changes and requests for information (RFIs) during the building phase.

These one-stop-shop firms have a team that knows each other and works together, so the resolutions on design can be met fairly quickly. The ease of collaboration between these disciplines results in fewer discrepancies in the final plans. Also, fees are assessed all-inclusive, so there is a financial benefit to having the team under one business. It is a great benefit to not have to manage several consultants with different business cultures and getting to build your home with a team of caring professionals.


This article has looked into the type of teams a homeowner has a choice of working with when building their home or making renovations. The information presented should lay out the practices of both all-inclusive firms and individual engineers and architects. Based on what you are looking to accomplish and the amount of involvement you want in the process, it should be a well-researched decision. If you find the argument for hiring a one-stop-shop consulting firm to be your winner, hire Design Everest professionals to assist in your project. Our team can get you started today.
Contact us to get a free quote.

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