Architects In Michigan | Learning More By Calling Us?

When I was a child, my mom used to receive some home magazines, which would sometimes feature house designs. I would sit with her while she flipped through the magazines, and every time she turned to a page with a home design, I would linger on the floor plans, imagining myself in the house, walking the hallways, sitting at the kitchen table, picturing myself living there. Would I like living in that house Architects In Michigan? Is the bathroom in a strange location? Does the living room have enough windows? Would I have to share a bathroom with my brother? Is the front porch covered and big enough to sit outside during a thunderstorm and not get wet? You can glean a lot of information from a simple diagrammatic floor plan. You get a sense of space, how the rooms relate to one another, an idea of how much storage the house has, and sometimes a picture of how the house sits on its site. But a contractor looks at that same floor plan and says, ÒHow do I build it?Ó and unless they know how to actually construct the house, that floor plan is of little use to anyone.

In high school, I took four years of Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) classes. The first year was an introduction to architectural drafting, where I learned how to use a software called AutoCAD, as well as the theory behind the purpose of and techniques involved in drafting. The three following years were what was called ÒAdvanced CADÓ, where I had more freedom in the projects I was working on and was able to design and draft my own buildings. During my junior year, I was able to design and draft what I called my dream home at that time. It had an open layout, lots of windows, a nice front porch, a large back deck, and a large master bedroom with ensuite bathroom with walk in closet and jacuzzi tub, in addition to two more bedrooms upstairs. It was a contemporary layout but looked very traditional from the outside. It was not at all what my dream home would be today! Nonetheless, I submitted it to a statewide competition and won not only first place in the region, but went on to win first place in the state! Looking back, I can recall something my teacher said he had been told by one of the judges, who happened to be one of the architects in Michigan, regarding my plans: they looked professional.

Anyone can draw up a basic floor plan. Quality of design aside, what makes a construction drawing good is not just some lines and dimensions. A lot of other information is necessary to be considered sufficiently detailed. As architects in Michigan, we are constantly working on improving our construction documentation and the methods we use to document our drawings. Thankfully, we are no longer relying on just a pencil and paper, but we have several softwares we use that help us detail our drawings effectively and efficiently. There are three key aspects of drafting that affect the quality of construction documents: accuracy, completeness, and legibility.

Architects In Michigan | Ready To Take Off?

It goes without saying that accuracy is integral when it comes to construction documentation. Correct dimensions are vital to a design being fully realized. A single wrong dimension could mean a phone call from a contractor and halts in construction. Architects in Michigan do their best to design with accuracy in mind because every inch matters when it comes to space planning and meeting code requirements. Inaccurate drawings have direct, visible consequences because you can tell when a window or door is not where it should be, or perhaps a cabinet interferes with the trim of an adjacent door that causes the contractor to cut around the cabinet–all because the drawings were an inch or two off.

Completeness is just as important as accuracy in construction documentation. Missing dimensions, notes, or details can drastically affect a design. If a contractor is unsure of how to build something, especially when regarding an element that contractor has never built before, or is used to using a different method to build that element, if the drawings lack details in how materials are joining together, or the dimensions of the pieces that make up that element, the contractor is either going to A) not have any idea how to build it, or B) build it the way they know how, and not according to how architects in Michigan want it built. We at Sedgewick + Ferweda Architects and many other architects in Michigan have experienced this many times. Unfortunately, when option B occurs, we usually have to accept the way the contractor has decided to built it, since the lack of detail was a fault of ours. To make matters worse, sometimes this situation means an additional cost to the owner or the architect, which is the worst case scenario. If, however, the architect has detailed the design properly, and the contractor still built it the way they wanted to, we as architects in Michigan have the ability to tell the contractor to rebuild it the way we have specified, at the cost of the contractor, not the architect or the owner.

The last aspect of construction documentation is one that is not necessarily as important as accuracy or completeness, but is extremely important to myself personally, and something that I believe sets good drawings apart from others–legibility. Legibility–the ease of ability to read a drawing–is something I find lacking in our industry. It is common to find complete drawings that look like a beginner drew them. Is legibility teachable? It is not something architects in Michigan specifically remember learning in high school in all my drafting classes, but it is more intuitive, a characteristic I believe is not emphasized nearly enough when first learning to draft. Legibility is lining up all the text boxes, having consistent leaders, finding similar plan components in the same place from sheet to sheet. Legibility is not finding text boxes which cover important symbols or other graphics. Legibility is placing dimensions a certain distance from what they are dimensioning. If a contractor cannot decipher what your note says, what good does that do? Legibility is paramount.