Archaeo Architects focuses on very few projects for which we provide personalized superior services to residential and commercial clients.

Van Drimmelen/Gore
Casa Sagrada
Cerro Gordo
Chapel of Light
Community Bank



Frequently Asked Questions for Residential Architects

These are some of the questions we hear most often. We expect you’ll have many more questions, so please call or email us!

Why do I need an architect?

If you value aesthetics, uniqueness, or have your own specific (or even vague) ideas, wants and/or needs for location, design, materials, rooms, construction quality, etc., then you should work with an architect. An architect’s task is to design a home that fits the client like a hand in a glove. It’s the client’s needs and desires that are paramount, not any particular style an architect may prefer.

However…if you’re content with a builder/home construction company’s standardized home layout and materials, with minor customizations, then you won’t need an architect. Good contractors might offer sufficient choice of designs for you, build well, and generally will handle all permitting issues. Sometimes “good enough” is…good enough.

Why do I need to hire a licensed architect?

First, you should know that it’s actually illegal to use the term “architect” without a license! A licensed architect has the necessary knowledge and qualifications to ensure the project’s compliance with all local building codes and regulations, as well as build quality and experience integrating all the subsystems (engineering, HVAC, electrical, lighting, landscaping, etc.) that go into envisioning and creating a great home.

At what point in the process should I hire an architect?

As soon as possible. We can help you understand building costs so you can set an appropriate budget, evaluate building sites for potential feasibility and begin planning the coordination of all the services you’ll need.

What criteria should I use to choose an architect?

There are the obvious ones: current license, examples of work (look at our projects and note which ones inspire you), recommendations and references, complaint record (if any) on Better Business Bureau — and how the architect responded to any complaints. Archaeo Architects have never received a formal complaint.

Then come the foundations of the personal relationship we will develop, over the months that the process will take. As you talk and meet with your candidates, note how well s/he listens, responds, explains. (A really good test is to wait until after you’ve left the meeting and check how well you can explain what you learned to someone else.) How open are they to your ideas? Will they challenge you – the right amount?
The American Institute of Architects has compiled a list of questions to ask your prospective architect that cover more topics.

What is the process – what are the stages?

While some architects break the process into as many as a dozen distinct phases, we focus on working with you throughout what can and should be a fluid process.
The first stage is our mutual getting-to-know-you set of meetings. From what we learn about you and your needs and wants, we can begin with design sketches. Then you and we work together to narrow down to a single vision.
Eventually, we can start specifying materials and other details before turning what is still a design guide into formal documents (blueprints) that can be budgeted accurately, submitted for permitting and finally guide the builder.
A key part of our job is to manage the entire process all the way through to move-in (and even beyond). And of course, we will keep you informed and as involved as you want to be throughout.

For a more detailed explanation, please review our “Process” document.

How much does it cost to have an architect-designed house?

You know the first answer is “it depends.” The four primary issues are scope, quality, schedule and budget. The main costs are of course the land, the choice of materials and the construction of the home itself. Our fees typically end up around 10% of the cost of construction, although we can also charge fixed fees by phase or specific task if you don’t need us for the entire project. Costs of building a home vary by locale and of course, size, materials and level of luxury. In the past several years we have seen a significant rise in the cost of custom residential construction. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, as of August 2023, you can expect costs for quality homes to start around $700/sq. ft. We have tracked the costs of construction for all of the homes we have designed over the last decade and, with inflation factored in, the average cost has been $779 per conditioned square feet. Unconditioned spaces, such the garage, mechanical room, storage, exterior covered space are included in that number. Some of the homes had certain complexities that increased cost, such as a site that was particularly steep, or had poor soils. Some clients had extreme sensitivities to materials and finishes. Some clients required a very high level of quality.

Where do your architects work?

Our architects are based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and most of our projects are in the Southwest. However, we also can handle projects in other locations. We have designed homes as far afield as Baja Mexico and South Dakota. Reach out to us to discuss your specific location and project needs.

How long does it take to design and build a house?

You can expect the design and construction document process to take from 6 to 9 months. The construction process usually runs 12 to 16 months.

How do we start?

Just give us a call or email.