Architects are Servants

Architects are Servants…really.

Have you hired a professional recently? Have you been SERVED? I mean really served, as in above and beyond type service?

I consider myself in a service profession, therefore a servant. People hire me mainly for one reason, they literally cannot do the work themselves. Either they do not have the technical knowledge or they do not have the right credentials.

In Ohio, to do construction work on any commercial project, the plans must be drawn, stamped and submitted by a registered architect. However, any person can submit drawings for a single family residence. No restrictions. (Professionally speaking, I think this is crazy. I currently am working on 3 commercial projects and 7 residential projects. Every residential project is far more complicated than any of the 3 commercial projects. But that’s a soap box for another day…)

Even though any person can submit drawings for a single family residence, most realize that they do not have the knowledge to do so. Sure, we all know what style we like, how high we want the ceilings, how many square feet we want to live comfortably, but putting it all together so it is structurally sound, water tight, and meets building code requirements is usually out of the reach of the common home owner. So, you make the leap to hire a professional that you can trust to do something that you can’t.

I remind myself constantly that if people weren’t required to hire me, they would probably rather do the work themselves. I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to do my job? Hahaha. Seriously, most of my clients are high achievers and fully capable people. That is why I SERVE.

So many people I talk to these days are shocked when they get excellent service. It is no longer the norm, it is a rarity. I believe there are two reasons for this:

  • The Walmart theory. We are willing to accept poor service for a reduced price.
  • In our culture, being a servant is seen as a low status.

The Walmart thing has been debated every where. It is a fact in our world. I am a home owner and I make decisions just like you based on cost, timeline and service. I get it. Cost is a huge factor, but it’s not the only one. I love the quote:

“You think it is expensive to hire a professional? Just wait until you hire an amateur.”

The culture thing is harder to grasp and the one that I believe is an Achilles heal to the profession of architecture (probably law and medicine too). It comes down to ego.

I believe we are servants to our clients. I define servant like this: a person that offers up something that the client cannot produce themselves which is of value and is compensated for. There is no shame in this and there is also no glory. It should be a mutual respect kind of thing.

Where it gets off track is when the architect believes they are irreplaceable and the client should be grateful that we are helping them. That’s just wrong, but I’ve seen it many times. We need to get to the point where we are grateful to have to opportunity to be useful in our careers and in life in general.

There are good professionals out there. Take your time to find someone that wants to serve you.


- Sheri

As Founder and Principal Architect of Springhouse Architects, Sheri’s mission is to lead Clients through the building process with the Clients in control and Springhouse as their guide, advocate and ally.  With over twenty years experience in Residential Architecture, Sheri brings knowledge and confidence to your custom home project.

Lisa Saldivar