Architect for home: Architectural Designs – Selling quality house plans for generations

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Residential Home Design

For all aspects of residential and light commercial design. As you draw walls and place smart architectural objects like doors and windows, the program creates a 3D model, generates a Materials List, and with the use of powerful building tools, helps produce Construction Documents with Site Plans, Framing Plans, Section Details, and Elevations.

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Kitchen, Bath & Interior Home Design

For kitchen, bath and interior renderings and virtual tours for interior design professionals. Help clients visualize with 3D, specify materials and produce Plan and Construction Drawings. Realistically design every detail in 2D, Elevation, or 3D perspective views. Select catalogs from a 3D Library with thousands of cabinets, appliances, furnishings and textures.

Discover the Power of Chief Architect

Discover the Power of Chief Architect

Chief Architect is 3D software for new construction, remodeling, kitchen, bath and interior design. Discover why millions of people use Chief Architect as the home design software product of choice for 3D visualization and construction drawings.



Building & Design Tools

Building & Design Tools

Powerful building and drafting tools make the design process efficient and productive. Quickly create detailed plans according to standard building practices. Automatic and manual building tools allow you to create a variety of roof styles, stairs, framing — both stick and truss, schedules and materials lists for cut, buy and estimating, dimensioning, cross‑sections, and elevations. See more building design features.

Kitchen, Bath & Interior Design

Chief Architect uses smart design objects, such as cabinets, to quickly and easily create various styles, shapes and sizes. Chief Architect partners with specific manufacturers (cabinets, appliances, doors, windows, countertops and flooring) so that styles, finishes and other product-specific design details can be accurately drawn and rendered. Learn more about Kitchen, Bath & Interior Design features.

Kitchen, Bath & Interior Design

Chief Architect uses smart design objects, such as cabinets, to quickly and easily create various styles, shapes and sizes. Chief Architect partners with specific manufacturers (cabinets, appliances, doors, windows, countertops and flooring) so that styles, finishes and other product-specific design details can be accurately drawn and rendered. Learn more about Kitchen, Bath & Interior Design features.

3D Design & Modeling Tools

As you draw walls, the program automatically creates a 3D model and supports full 3D editing. With Chief Architect, you can design in any view for seamless and simultaneous editing between 2D & 3D. Advanced rendering provides both Photo Realistic and Artistic styles such as Line Drawing and Watercolor. An extensive 3D Library of architectural objects and tools make it easy to detail and accessorize your designs so that styles, finishes and other product-specific design details can be accurately rendered. See our Samples Gallery.

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Chief Architect Premier

Our top-rated home design software for professionals

Detailed Feature List

Our top-rated home design software for professionals

Automatic Building Tools

Smart tool technology creates all the building systems automatically.

3D Rendering & Virtual Tours

Sell more jobs by helping your clients visualize with realistic renderings, 360° renderings, live 3D Viewer models and virtual tours.

Construction Documents

Create professional residential construction drawings for permits, subcontractors and clients.

Materials List & Schedules

Instant materials lists and schedules give you the information you need to quickly cost out your jobs.

Realistic & Artistic Rendering

Choose from a variety of rendering options: photo realistic (ray trace), artistic (watercolor / line drawing) and 360° renderings to communicate your ideas.

Name Brand & Custom Cabinets

Create full custom cabinetry or design using manufacturer brand specific cabinet catalogs.

3D Library Content

Select from thousands of objects such as fixtures, appliances, millwork, furnishings and more from the 3D Library.

Kitchen & Bath Dimensions

Easily create floor plan and elevation dimensions to National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) standards.


Rearrange walls, add rooms, and update cabinets, countertops and flooring. Design with as‑built and remodeling layers to detail, estimate, and visualize. If you change the size of the room, you can immediately see the updated materials list to estimate costs. Help your clients visualize your designs, and sell more jobs with realistic 3D renderings and virtual tours.

CAD Tools for Productivity & Precision

Chief Architect has a powerful CAD software engine that includes tools for lines, polylines, splines, arcs and solids to produce objects that range from custom entry columns to a deck ledger detail. Quickly manipulate objects with multiple copy, align, reflect and replicate at specific intervals. A CAD-to-Walls tool imports AutoCAD® files and provides mapping for layers so you can quickly see the model in 3D. Draw custom CAD details, import as DWG/DXF/PDF, or choose from over 500 CAD details in the premium SSA catalog to overlay on your design.

Plan Sets & Construction Drawings

3D renderings and virtual tours help you sell the project and construction drawings help you specify, permit and build. All views in your project – Floor Plans, Framing, Electrical, Section Details and Elevations have a user defined scale and link to a specific drawing that updates as your design changes. Layers control what displays for each of the drawing pages to help create professional detailed construction drawings. See our sample construction drawings.

Site Planning, Terrain, Decks & Landscaping

Create site plans for single or multiple lots. Import terrain survey data or use the Terrain Modeling tools — terrain data can then be used for a 2D site plan or viewed in 3D to show the specific topography. Road, Sidewalk, Hill and Valley tools provide added detail. For Landscaping, there’s over 4,000 plants with detailed information about each plant including integrated Hardiness Zone Maps. Define a North pointer and seasonal settings to create sun studies, shadow effects and overlays. Decking tools include automatic and manual deck framing; customize deck planking and materials.




Should I hire an architect for my remodeling project?

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Want to move from dreaming about your renovation idea to making it a reality? That’s when you should hire an architect, says Marc Brahaney, the owner of Lasley Brahaney Architecture.

We sat down with Marc to chat about all the reasons why homeowners hire architects for major renovation projects, what architects do, and how a homeowner can determine if they even need an architect for their project.

What is An Architect?

An architect is someone who is officially licensed to practice architecture.

But what does that mean when it comes to home remodels? Architects have a technical understanding of building systems and requirements, and in working out not only a home design that fits a homeowners wants and needs, but also functions well in reality.

An architect can create architectural plans, including detailed permit and construction drawings, for major home renovations.

“The floor plans, the elevations and the massing all have to interconnect,” says Marc. “As options arise of changing the locations of walls, opening up rooms to one another, or changing the exterior wall to have more windows and doors, those are cases that enter into the territory of an architect.”

While many smaller renovation projects don’t involve hiring an architect, structural remodels often call for an architect’s expertise, depending on how confident the homeowner is in his or her renovation plan.

What Does an Architect Do?

While architects can play as small or as large a role as a homeowner wants, this is generally the process that an architect goes through when creating plans for a remodel:

1. Talk to the Homeowner About Their Ideas/Create Conceptual Designs

The first step to every architect’s job is meeting with the homeowner, seeing their house, and understanding what the homeowner’s hopes for the project are. An architect’s job is to turn their vision into reality.

“A lot of times a client’s desire to do a project starts with something that’s not right about the house, the house doesn’t suit them well, for some reason,” says Marc. “So It’s a problem solving exercise. An architect would be able to understand what the problem is and either corroborate with the homeowner’s thinking or offer some alternatives that the homeowner hasn’t thought of.”

The architect, or sometimes a draftsperson, may create a conceptual design during this phase, which would be a simple drawing laying out the homeowner’s ideas using an architect’s design principles and expertise.

2. Take Measurements of the Current Home

After the architect has offered an overall project idea that the homeowner agrees with, they’ll take measurements of the current home. This includes floor plans and elevations. The architect will use these measurements to create a more detailed design, called “schematic designs,” that are actually to scale.

3. Create Schematic Designs

Next, the architect will present schematic designs, based on the conversation that they had with the homeowner, the goals they’ve established, and the conceptual design. This is the first true phase of the architectural design process.

While schematic designs will certainly look detailed to most homeowners, they are actually the most basic form of architectural designs. These drawings are to scale and can include floor plans, elevations, or computer renderings. At this stage, you’ll also get a rough cost estimate for the project.

4. Revise Initial Designs/Design Development

After this, Marc says, there will usually be one round of revisions, depending on how the homeowners feel about this initial design. This phase may also involve adding more detail, including types of materials used, appliances, other furnishings, equipment, etc. Both this stage and the schematic design creation phase involve lots of collaboration between the architect and the homeowners.

5. Present a Final Architectural Design

Finally, the architect will present the homeowners with a final design, and you’ll get a more final cost estimate for the project.

After this stage, the architectural process can end, or it can continue, depending on what a homeowner is willing to pay for. Some homeowners will stop here, and show their designs to a contractor. Other homeowners will continue on to pay for detailed construction plans.

6. Prepare Detailed Construction Plans (Optional)

During this stage, the architect will refine the design documents even more, making them fully comprehensive and ready for a contractor to look at them and start construction. These documents would include all materials required, the amount of materials required, and any specifications. These are also the level of plans that you’d submit to your local jurisdiction for any required building permits.

If the architect is part of a design/build firm, the architect would next provide a final estimate for the cost of construction of the plan with that same firm. What is a design/build firm?

How Much Does It Cost To Hire an Architect?

This question depends on exactly what you’re hiring the architect to do. Marc explains generally, schematic designs and construction plans will add up to around 10% of the total project cost, with ⅓ of it being the schematic design and ⅔ for the construction plans.

Therefore, if your project total is around $150,000, you might pay around $15,000 for an architect to draw up the plans – $5,000 for the schematic design, and $10,000 for the construction plans.

However, it can vary greatly depending on where you’re located and the architect you’re working with.

If your architectural budget isn’t this big, Marc explains that rudimentary drawings are a cheaper way to get your plans into reality.

Sometimes architects will draw up simple conceptual designs for around $1,000 or much less, which you can then take to a skilled general contractor. It all depends on your personal budget, wants and needs.

If all you’re looking for is an experienced professional to help you put your ideas to paper, or help you evaluate if they’re even possible, then this could be a great option for you.

When Do You Need To Hire an Architect?

It’s important to note that depending on how complex your project is, your local government may actually require complex construction plans, as described above.

Why? This is because certain complex projects, if done wrong, could cause serious damage to your home. You need someone who is well-versed in the science of architecture to help you create documents for your contractor, so things don’t blow up in your face. Literally.

In some states, like Illinois, you may be required to have a licensed architect at the very least sign off on your renovation plans in order to get the proper permitting.

We’d recommend checking with your local government to see if you need an architect involved in your renovation planning, as it’s different in every area.

However, if your local jurisdiction does not require a licensed architect for your plans, you, your builder, your designer, or your contractor may be skilled enough to create these detailed plans to submit for permitting.

Can I Get My Contractor To Draw Up Construction Plans?

Yes, but that doesn’t mean you should. Many homeowners go this route, especially if their projects are simpler or only involve one room. Contractors may often have the ability to create construction plans that will get you a permit in your area (if your area doesn’t require a licensed architect for your project).

However, never assume that your contractor is a good designer. In many cases, contractors will be able to create plans that work, but their solutions and designs won’t be as innovative or attractive as something an architect could come up with.

If your remodel involves more than a simple project, we’d recommend at least consulting with an architect or draftsperson. With a project as costly and important as a home remodel, you’ll want to consult someone with engineering skills and expertise, rather than simply building expertise.

When Do You Not Need To Hire an Architect?

There are some instances though when a homeowner probably doesn’t need to hire an architect for a renovation, and can simply go straight to a contractor, says Marc.

If the project just includes basic repairs or fix ups, you don’t need to hire an architect.

For example, if you’re just upgrading some portion of a bathroom, like replacing the appliances and the tiling and getting a new paint job, then hiring an architect would be unnecessary.

An architect’s job is to technically plan out the spacing calculations, and if you’re not changing the spacing of anything, then their expertise isn’t warranted.

Marc recommends talking to an interior designer if you’re solely interested in colors, textures, fabrics, materials, etc. Your contractor can also help you talk through the details and what might look best. You can also consider hiring a draftsperson to create architectural plans; they aren’t required to have an architectural degree or license, so their services will be a fraction of the price.

However, it’s important to note that many people have a misconception that you need to be working on a totally new home build to hire an architect.

That’s not the case, says Marc. The most common project he sees? Kitchens.

“Kitchens might be the beginning point for many people, and then projects become more from that,” says Marc. “It might be a kitchen and a family space. It might be a kitchen and a mudroom, or a kitchen and a bathroom.”

Additions, kitchen remodels, or anything structural in nature can benefit from hiring an architect, and like we mentioned earlier, some jurisdictions will require an architect’s approval for the proper permits.

It can be unclear what the differences are between an architect vs designer, because the terms are often used interchangeably.

It’s hard to say, says Marc, as it depends on what kind of designer you’re talking about. Are you talking about an interior designer, or a designer in general? Architects are often called “designers,” because they are literally designing homes. However other “designers,” may not actually be licensed architects.

But just because a designer doesn’t have a degree in architecture, that doesn’t mean they won’t be useful to you. They can help conceptualize your space in a new way, create design plans to show to a contractor, and more.

Overall, the term ‘designer’ is vague, so if you’re in talks with a designer about your renovation, make sure you understand their expertise and qualifications.

Marc points out that an architect may be better at looking at the house’s dimensions as a whole, seeing how your project would play into the exact measurements and spacing, and using engineering to create construction plans, as compared to someone without that expertise.

If you’re remodeling a single room in your home, a designer may fit your needs. However, their designs should still be evaluated by a structural engineer to avoid any dangerous building situations.


One trend you may have noticed lately is the increase in design/build firms. Marc is the owner of a design/build firm himself. What is a design/build firm? They do it all! These types of firms don’t stop at the construction plan phase; they are part of every step of the renovation process, from the brainstorming phase until the final day of construction.

This model of combining the architect with the contractor is appealing to homeowners because it’s somewhat of a one-stop-shop. Rather than have to search for the perfect architect and the perfect contractor, one business can do it all, and there’s consistency between each stage of the process.

If you’re still confused about whether or not hiring an architect is right for you, we recommend:

  • Check with your local jurisdiction to see what the requirements are
  • Schedule an initial conversation with an architect

These two steps may give you some clarity on what’s required for your project, and what benefits you may find from hiring an architect.

Check out this handy glossary to help you keep track of all the terms.


Architect: A person who prepares the plan and design of a building or other structure and sometimes supervises its construction. In the renovation world, they’re hired to design plans for your home remodel, and are regulated by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB.)

Designer: A designer can be anyone with specific artistic skills in a certain category. There are interior designers, landscape designers, remodeling designers, etc. Unlike an architect, a designer (generally) doesn’t need a degree or license in their field. Designers often have different types of certifications, expertise, or education, but aren’t regulated like contractors and architects are.

Design/Build: Design/build is a type of remodeling service where the design-build team or firm works under a single contract with the project owner, and will provide design and construction services. Design/build firms are an alternative to hiring an architect or designer and a general contractor or builder separately.

Schematic Design: Schematic design is the first phase of architectural design. In this step, an architect will collaborate with the homeowner to figure out the project goals. In this phase, the architect or draftsperson will generally create rough drawings of a site plan, floor plans, elevations or even illustrative sketches or computer renderings.

Draftsperson: The difference is mainly in education and scope. Most drafters work for architects or as part of a construction company. An architect is the visionary behind the functional design of a home. Under their supervision, draftspersons translate that vision into technical blueprints that a construction company follows.

Design Development: In design development, the schematic plans and elevations are reviewed, revised and expanded to incorporate all the details and specifications required for construction. Project components are looked at to the smallest detail. These include: Interior and exterior building materials and finishes.

Construction Plans: These are the typical final drawings for any project. Construction plans vary depending on the scope of the project, but can include: exterior & interior elevations, building and wall sections, exterior and interior details, site plans, floor plans, roof plans, and engineering specifications.

Development of a house project: working with an architect

Long-term practice of developing projects in the field of suburban real estate shows that a rare client comes to an architectural bureau with a clearly defined idea of ​​a future home. As a rule, the project is developed for each customer individually, taking into account many nuances.

The most important criteria are the size of the family, the possibility of replenishing it, lifestyle, household habits, hospitality traditions, favorite types of recreation and entertainment, etc. In order to take into account all the requirements and offer the best project for the house, the specialists of the architectural bureau hold several meetings with the customer.

During the first conversation, the architect clarifies all the requirements, sometimes asking somewhat strange questions. Don’t underestimate this verbal design phase. Many years of experience and professional intuition will tell the architect how to build housing so that it has the necessary adaptive potential and is as comfortable as possible for the whole family.

Based on the data voiced by the client, a detailed design specification is drawn up, which becomes the basic starting point for the development of a master plan for the future home.

Project Lorenzo

Here are some tips for clients to make the first meeting with the architect as productive as possible:

  1. Come to the meeting with the family member whose opinion must be taken into account when developing the project. The head of the family is not always aware of such everyday nuances, how best to equip the kitchen and where is the best place for the nursery. In addition, it is imperative to take into account the needs of older family members and plan a room for them to live on the lower level of the house.
  2. Get ready for the meeting – be sure to calculate the allowable budget in advance and at least roughly decide on the style of the house. Make a selection of photos of projects you like from the Internet or printed catalogs. Along with the cadastral plan of the land plot, this will become the basis for choosing the optimal architectural solutions. Remember that all these factors are interconnected – the price directly affects the size of the house, its design and the choice of finishing materials.
  3. You will also need a wiring diagram for engineering networks – electricity and water supply, gasification, sewerage. It is issued upon request in the local administration or in the management company of the cottage settlement. The configuration features of these communications are taken into account when building a master plan. Geodetic data are also important – the relief of the building site, the composition of the soil, the level of groundwater. All these parameters must be taken into account when choosing the type of foundation for the house and when arranging the adjacent territory.

Order an individual design

The combination of these factors will allow you to develop an optimal house project. Architects will help you choose the best set of options for each specific budget and adapt them to the wishes of the client. For example, structural elements such as panoramic glazing, complex facade or roof details can significantly increase the cost of construction. But an experienced architect will always offer a compromise that will satisfy the client’s requirements and allow you to stay within the chosen stylistic direction.

House project in Pavlovo

What issues are discussed at the first meeting with the architect

The customer is asked to fill out a special protocol, the so-called “brief”, which contains clarifying and structuring questions regarding the future home. Later, it is used to draw up the “Design Specifications” – this is a regulatory document that specifies exactly agreed requirements for the construction object. Indicators such as area and floor breakdown may not be filled in – these parameters are discussed with a specialist.

During the sketching process, the architect will immediately be able to answer the client’s many questions regarding the project. Geodetic survey data will allow you to determine the possibility of arranging a basement or basement level in the house. And when choosing a roof configuration, it will be possible to consider the option of equipment in the under-roof space of the attic or attic.

Project Paul

Results of the first meeting with the architect. And it’s always free0035

  • The customer will get a general idea of ​​his future home (including handwritten sketches), and the architect will evaluate the task and its scope.
  • The client will be able to understand how real the realization of his ideas and desires regarding the future home is and how many adjustments will have to be made to them.
  • The customer will be able to understand the qualifications of the architect and decide whether this specialist is suitable for him and whether their further cooperation is promising.

The architect-designer must be on the same wavelength with the customer. It is necessary to capture the lifestyle of the future owners of the house, understand their needs, suggest and help to formalize even those wishes for the house that the customer may not express initially. The construction of a cottage is not only a technical, but also in many ways a very creative process. Therefore, it is extremely important that the tastes, goals and methods of work of the architect and the customer coincide.

Today the market is filled with people of dubious qualifications who call themselves designers and architects. They want to practice on a real order, while they often do not have the proper education, qualifications and experience.

For the construction of a residential facility, a building architect is needed, and not just a drawing designer. The specialist must have a solid experience in volumetric design and thoroughly know the specifics of the implementation of suburban projects. and ideally – and their construction from scratch and turnkey. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the documents on education and with the portfolio of each architect.

The qualifications of a specialist can also be judged by how the meeting goes – during the discussion, an experienced designer will immediately offer specific options and create test sketches “in pencil” to clearly demonstrate various options for planning a future home.

Bertani’s design for a forest plot

Individual design or standard design?

In the architectural bureau, the customer will certainly be offered a ready-made standard project that best meets his needs and requirements. The advantage of this option is significant money savings – the purchase of a finished project is several times cheaper than an individual design. The choice of a standard project also saves the client’s time – both at the stage of approval and at the stage of building a house.

And one more thing – the construction of a typical house takes into account the various nuances that arose during the previous implementation. This avoids possible shortcomings and makes it possible to make the necessary amendments to optimize each subsequent construction under this project.

If necessary, certain changes can be made to the standard project in order to adapt the future home to the client’s request as much as possible. Another advantage of this approach is that the client will be able to see the result even before the construction process begins.

Custom design can be very risky, so choosing the right specialist is paramount. To be sure of a quality end result, choose among the most reputable companies.

Do you want to develop a unique project? Contact us, we will help you choose the perfect option for your future home. Architect’s consultation is free. Call +7(495)215-15-67

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BUILDING A HOUSE. FIRST MEETING WITH THE ARCHITECT – Reliable construction of your home

Every architect dreams of a client who has a clear idea of ​​his future home. The house is built (and even adjusted) to its owner, this is the very “tailor-made” that requires taking a lot of measurements. Here is the composition of the family, and the prospects for its growth, the pace of life, and even the format in which you receive guests. Therefore, the architect conducts the first meeting in the form of an interview, and do not let his questions seem incorrect to you. Working ahead of the curve, the architect is able to build a house not only for you today, but also to take into account the development you have planned and “introduce into the project” the future scenario of life. The results of the interview become the basis for a detailed design specification, which, in turn, becomes the “backbone” of your future home.


1. Our experience shows that in families there are always people who really influence decision-making , and not always it is the head of the family. Therefore, when going to a meeting, take into account the wishes of your loved ones or come with those whose opinion is decisive for you.

2. In addition to cadastral plan of the land plot (see the official website of Rosreestr), on which your architectural solutions will line up, it is worth deciding on the style of house and the price range acceptable to you . In this case, these are mutually influencing factors: the cost of a house directly depends not only on its volume and design features, but also on the stylistic decision, and, consequently, finishing materials. Also take a selection of photos of houses that you like with you!

When selecting house prototypes, pay attention to the elements that will increase the cost of construction (panoramic windows, complex roof shapes, doorways of non-standard sizes, etc. ). But don’t give up on them right away! After discussing your preferences, the architect will definitely offer a less expensive option, which, nevertheless, will allow you to move in a given stylistic key

3. For the first meeting, it is also desirable0092 , and a geodetic study of the site will be needed later, at the detailed design stage.

The scheme for supplying communications (electricity, central water supply, main gas, sewerage) is requested from the management company of the cottage settlement or the local administration. Its data are taken into account when laying out the general plan of the site.

Geodetic survey provides detailed information about the features of the construction site (relief, soil properties, proximity to groundwater). His data is needed to carry out engineering communications on the site and determine the type of foundations.


At the first meeting, you will fill out a brief, the questions of which will help you clarify and structure your wishes for the future home. Based on it, the architect will develop the Terms of Reference for the design – a full-fledged document that is understandable to all parties to the process.

Columns “Area” and “Breaking down by floors” are not required, you will decide on this together with a specialist.

Working on the brief and sketching with you, the architect will answer many of your questions during the first meeting. So, having studied the terrain of the site, he will decide whether a basement or semi-basement floor is needed in the house and is it possible to place a garage or technical premises in it? And after discussing with you the appearance of the building and sketching the shape of the roof, he will offer an option for using the attic space.

It is likely that having familiarized yourself with your needs (if you did not “pass” this stage in a preliminary telephone conversation), the architect will offer a ready-made standard project. Such an offer is very reasonable: you can immediately “try on” the object for yourself and see its real price. In addition, once “run-in” a typical house is being built according to an established scheme, which minimizes costs, including time.


1. The first meeting will allow you to structure your ideas about the house, and the architect to understand the scale of the tasks.

2. At the first meeting, you will determine how realistic your desires are in these specific conditions and, if necessary, correct them together with a specialist.

3. And finally, the main thing. The design result directly depends on the qualifications of the architect, and the first meeting will answer the question of whether this is your specialist. This clarification is especially relevant now that many people who call themselves architects or designers have entered the market and are ready to practice on a real order. However, as a rule, they do not have experience in volumetric design.

When it’s not about the interior, but about the building, you need a building (not drawing, but building) architect who knows thoroughly the specifics of the construction of individual residential buildings.