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Investing. Customizing or Flipping Properties,
An Architect's Perspective

By John A. Salat A.I.A.

Investing in properties to flip or to hold for the long-haul typically involves construction repairs, modifications or a total makeover.  No matter the scope, the goal of any alteration is to enhance the property and the value of the maximum yield investment.

An architect can be use in many purchase decision phases from aid of choosing the lot for best profit or maybe those who love the lot/location but not the current layout of design. The architect can protect the buyer knowing the cost upfront to modifications and to their custom preferences and taste by making site comparisons in the feasibility to existing dwelling(s) that allows for sound decision to ones investment.

Engaging an architect to evaluate the property before it is acquired during/before escrow will eases all tensions and guesswork. An architect can provide a broad insight to bridge where home inspection normally leave off. Home inspectors only provide a narrow scope of work and are not regulated by government. A licensed architect, on the other hand, goes beyond common inspection protocols, covering details of desired changes and the feasibility to making adjustments.  An architect is in the best position to know that before you closed the deal.

Also before you purchase a property, be sure to factor the cost of any proposed work into the asking price. A professional architect can package the improvements into a complete and seamless whole, resolving maintenance problems, bringing construction deficiencies to code, and altering building aesthetics to increase the value of the property. The results to these survey inspection builds confidence with buyers in widening options for whats listed in the market place.

An architect can help bridge buyers and sellers who need confidence before exchanging their investments. Some clients may like the site but not the house so what do you do? Or they like the floor plan but not the theme where an architect can help step through the retrofit options for feasibility options into one single design solution. Weather its adding rooms to tie in professionally for expansion, remodel, modernize and even change the character change an architect can make it all code complaint and aesthetically pleasing.

If you're buying to flip, one option is to rent the property from the existing owner as a short-term lease, to prevent it from being sold while the major design work is being done. Do not assume your design and permit-ready drawings will be completed in a matter of weeks, as the permitting process alone may take months before actual construction can begin as an architect can help establish  timetables. Each jurisdiction has different zoning ordinances, and determining these cases can be tricky. Local ordinances and codes have been known to change monthly. Also, agencies are reluctant to respond to ad hoc questions from a prospective purchaser. However, an architect can set up a pre-evaluation meeting with the local planning department for a quick, over-the-counter concept review with rough graphics and a checklist. This informal preliminary submittal reduces the odds of unhappy surprises before you have finalized escrow or completed engineered drawings. Have the buying agent place an Architect's Review Pending contingency in escrow documents before closing to further protect you from being stuck with a property not suited to your purposes.

Building code revisions can complicate the process. Regardless of the scope of the total project, any building elements that are altered, modified or expanded require permits--no exceptions. Avoiding the permit process not only exposes you to liability risk, it may delay or even stop escrow when you sell. On the buyers end, an architect's forensic efforts will track the entire permit history of construction activity and compare the current property to original city records. With further investigation, an architect can obtain maintenance receipts from past construction trade activities, including warranties to determine the remaining life span of improvements, perhaps revealing deficiencies of construction not visible to the naked eye and ordering selective demolition to bring the structure up to code.

A forensic audit is an inexpensive way to ascertain the actual condition of the property. Hire an architect for a simple walk-through or can go more extensively to further assess design opportunities, and structures integrity. You can continue using an architect with broad scope services to compare multiple properties, determining which is most feasible for your purposes, narrowing the site selection process if comparing other possible site accusations that can focus towards making your final decisions, including providing a forecast of the longevity of existing material and equipment for retrofits. Whether modernization retrofits, green technology conversions, or simply to provide inspections to the building integrity, the goal is protecting your investment while controlling the total project cost, a small price to reduce risk to all investors. More info on this topic


Contact: John Salat at freeingwinds@earthlink.net or call (949) 235-4847

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Last revised  2018 copyright (c), John Salat All rights reserved