Why hire an architect?
A registered/licensed architect in Florida must attend college for 5-7 years at an accredited university, by National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He then must intern under a registered architect for 5,600 hours. Internship hours only apply if he is performing an approved task by NCARB. He must pass 7 rigorous NCARB exams, which on average take 2.5 years to complete. He must pay for the state license, and renewals which also require continuing education classes which are not free. This process on average takes ~12 years and costs ~$100,000.
Many people are not aware that an architect, even though not an engineer, is licensed to perform engineering in Florida. In Florida an architect's seal and signature is equal to a structural engineer's in most circumstances. An architect is allowed to 'crossover' into engineering as long as it is incidental to his practice of architecture or they do not refer to themselves as an engineer.
Many people choose to hire ‘wannabe architects’ who are unlicensed and most don’t do the necessary steps toward licensure. Since, Florida requires architects or engineers to sign & seal the plans for construction, the ‘wannabe architect’ often pays an engineer to review and sign & seal their plans. This practice called ‘plan stamping’ is illegal unless the drawings were produced under the responsible supervising control of the engineer or architect.
Regarding the difference between engineers and architects.. It has been said, and quoted in 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School, by Matthew Frederick, that “An architect knows something about everything; an engineer knows everything about one thing” and "engineers tend to be concerned with physical things in and of themselves; architects are more directly concerned with the human interface with physical things." Architects, even though not required, often hire engineers to assist in the sizing or specifying of structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing elements.
Architects cost money, but can also save money. Architects are good at the detail that most of us rarely think about and, if done wrong, can end up leading to costly mistakes, a well-designed building will have higher value and lower running costs.
Architects can reduce worry. Architects can manage the design and construction process for you, guiding you through the decisions that need to be made, working in consultation and agreement with you.
Most architects approach a project with an open mind toward a broad range of methods, materials, and components.
An architect is knowledgeable about tailoring your design to comply with zoning laws, neighborhood covenants, building codes, etc.