A residential architect designs buildings and structures that people live in. Residential architects work in many different settings. They may be self-employed, work for a smaller studio, or work for large companies and corporations. Residential architects may work independently, or in collaboration. Their daily work activities include designing structures, meeting with clients, and occasional visits to construction sites.
Residential architects are trained at designing living environments to suit specific conditions. They have at least a bachelor’s degree in architecture, often specifically in residential architecture. Residential architects receive training in designing single family homes, multi-family unit residences, assisted-living and senior housing units, tract homes, and remodels and additions to existing residential structures. Architects do not actually construct buildings, but design them according to the client’s specifications and the architect and client’s aesthetic sensibilities.
For example, a residential architect might be hired by a family that wanted to put a major addition onto their house. The residential architect would work with the family, considering a number of factors to determine what design would work best for the family before coming up with a design. The residential architect would consider the intended use of the new space, how the owners want it to look, cost and space considerations, building materials or desire for environmentally friendly construction, and the footprint of the existing house.
It is not necessary to have a residential architect be involved in a home remodel or addition. General contractors often design and build simple additions and remodels. A residential architect will likely bring a higher level of aesthetic expertise to the project, however, and will be better able to incorporate specific requests.
Other residential architects are employed by large construction companies that build residential subdivisions or construct townhomes and apartments. Instead of coming up with a highly individualized design for a specific client, these residential architects create designs that aim to be cost effective and have aesthetic appeal for a wide variety of people. Sometimes called “cookie cutter” homes because they are essentially the same, a few different designs may be repeated several times within a residential development.