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Build a Well-Designed Home Extension with an Architect's Expertise

Build a Well-Designed Home Extension with an Architect's Expertise

Exterior renovationsBuild a Well-Designed Home Extension with an Architect's Expertise

A home extension is a significant undertaking, no matter how you look at it. It calls for solid technical expertise and extensive design know-how. Learn why an architect’s expertise is indispensable to building a well-designed home extension.  

Home Extension Blueprints

home extension

Source: Canva

Blueprints can spare you a considerable amount of trouble: 

  • Avoid administrative roadblocks;

  • Mitigate the risks of a contractor rejecting your plans and halting the process;

  • Prevent the need to completely redo the plans.

If you deem yourself quite talented in terms of technical drawings and believe designing the plans for your new home extension is a good idea, think again. Plans drawn up by a homeowner almost always end up rejected by city officials.

When not outright rejected, architects and architectural technologists are quite likely to refuse to collaborate on your plans and rubber stamp them with their professional seal. Therefore, drawing up your own plans for your home extension project is altogether a waste of time.

While certain contractors may suggest having them designed on your behalf, this idea isn’t much better. Why, you ask? Because in the event that you terminate your contract with said contractor, they might not be willing to hand over your home’s extension plans.

The best solution is to team up, from the get-go, with an architect or architectural technologist, who will draw up, and subsequently hand over,  the blueprints of your home extension. 

When do you need to hire an architect for a home extension?  

home extension

Source: Canva

An architect will come in handy when: 

  • Inspecting the state of your home;

  • Drawing up the extension plans;

  • Handling administrative requests;

  • Managing companies/vendors involved.

An architect also has an advisory role, as adding to or expanding a home does come with a set of consequences. In this regard, the architect will define your property limits in terms of positioning and dimensions:

  • How will the house stand out from a remote viewpoint?

  • Who can see the extension (neighbours, passers-by, nobody)?

  • What’s the extension overlooking (landscape, factory, etc.)?

  • Is an easement of views necessary (Civil Code of Quebec, article 993)?

  • Which architects are approved by the urban planning department (Services de l’urbanisme)?

These factors might prompt you to reconsider your initial home extension project. On the other hand, collaborating with an architect ensures a strong start, right off the bat.

Architect or Architectural Technologist?

In Quebec, the question is all the more pertinent given the two competing associations. Architects and architectural technologists aren’t trained alike. The former completed a university program, while the latter obtained a college diploma. 

The first are members of the OAQ (Ordre des architectes du Québec), while the others are part of the OTPQ (Ordre des technologues professionnels du Québec).

Is one diploma better than the other? That’s for you to decide. The main difference may pinpoint the fact that an architectural technologist is more inclined to the practical side of things, as opposed to creative conception.

However, an experienced and qualified architectural technologist is better than a poorly skilled architect, and vice versa. Base your decision on their reputation and past work.

However, note that architects are the only qualified professionals who can design single-family homes, provided these exceed 6,458 sq. ft. (600 m²).

Check out our article 3 Factors to Consider When Choosing an Architect.

Architects Have a Ton of Experience to Go Around

home extension

Source: Canva

Planning a home extension is often done for one (or more) of the following reasons:

  • Increase the square footage;

  • Revamp aesthetics;

  • Adapt the home (ageing occupants, disability);

  • Increase the property’s market value;

  • Have more natural light.

Rightly, an architect’s role is to draw upon their experience, potentially guiding you to an entirely different architectural outcome.

In fact, the home extension can:  

  • Extend the existing structure;

  • Be separate from the neighbouring structure;

  • Bridge two distinct spaces;

  • Be ethereal (thin metal beams with glass partitions) or protective.  

While the decision rests on the client’s shoulders, an expert’s know-how is indispensable, as they’re able to present these different options and assist their client in the final decision-making.

In essence, building an appealing extension requires the spark of an idea or creative concept. This is exactly where the skillset of an architect comes into play. It’s all the more important if you’re looking to increase the square footage of an older home with a modern-looking extension. 

Few are the trades with the know-how to blend older designs with more modern ones, as part of a structure that serves both as a contrast and a balance. 

Cost of an Architect-Designed Home Extension

home extension

Source: Canva

A number of factors come into play:

  • Firm’s reputation;

  • Size of the home extension;

  • Technical difficulty in drawing the plans;

  • Number of sub-contractors to supervise throughout.

Then, note 3 types of fees:

  • Rates ($50 to $200 per hour)

  • Cost per square foot ($2 to $3.50/sq. ft.); 

  • Percentage.  

The percentage is calculated based on the scale of the intended home extension. As such, the architect’s fees amount to about 10% of the project’s total cost

Architectural Technologists Are Budget-Friendlier

The disparate qualifications of these two associations mean architectural technologists offer more budget-friendly service fees. While architects typically charge 8% to 10% of the total cost of the home extension, architectural technologists will bill at a lower cost, 1% to 3%. 

This significant difference in costs opens to door to undertaking a more ambitious home extension than what might’ve been possible with an architect.

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Last modified 2023-11-07

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