Hiring an Architect

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(An excerpt from the owner’s forthcoming book Architecture to Construction and Everything in Between)

Your Architect will become the quarterback for your team of experts to get your project successfully completed.  When hiring an architect, keep in mind that you are the one in control. They are the expert, but you are hiring them to do a job – so they work for you! Don’t feel anxious or intimidated about asking what you might think are “silly” questions. If you don’t understand something, speak up – they will be happy to inform and educate you until you do understand.

It’s a smart idea to have questions prepared when you start making calls to screen potential architects. Because the relationship you have with your professionals is so important, you should make sure you feel comfortable with them and have a good rapport to establish communication. You need an architect that will, first and foremost, listen to you and your needs and wants, and translate that into a structure specifically designed for you. The number one complaint I hear about architects is that they don’t listen, and when the owner views the proposed design, they find it’s not even close to what they wanted! I stress the importance of communication, because this disconnect may be related to what was communicated to the architect.

communication_breakdown

Start with this list when interviewing your potential architects:
  1. What is your mission statement?
  2. Have you designed similar projects and can I see pictures of them?
  3. Who in your firm will I be dealing with and what experience do they have?
  4. What sets your firm apart from other firms in the area?
  5. How does the process unfold from design thru construction?
  6. What am I expected to provide during the design process?
  7. Will I have opportunities to alter the design as we progress?
  8. How will you present the project to me?  Plans and elevations, 3-D renderings, models?
  9. How does your firm bill for services rendered?
When you find a few architects you like over the phone, make appointments to meet them in person. Think of it as a job interview where you are the employer – because that’s exactly what you are!  Sit down with them and describe briefly the scope of the project that you would like them to design. For example, you might say: “We want to expand the kitchen and great room about 12’ by removing the back wall of the house. On the second floor, we’d like to add a bedroom and expand the master bath. The backyard will have a new deck, about 12’x24’. We’d like a pergola on the right for shade, and a grilling/bar area on the left.” When you’re clear about what you would like in a quick overview, it’s much easier for the architect to grasp the project.
Talk more in depth with them, to find out if you like them personally, professionally and have a good feeling about them being attentive to your needs throughout the process.

You should discuss your project construction budget as well as how much should be expected roughly in architectural and engineering fees.  This will give you a good idea as to the total project budget.  Find an architect with whom you feel comfortable, who has an explicit process spelled out as to how they operate.  Cost should not be your main concern; always, always remember that you will get what you pay for. Invest those few extra dollars to be sure that you get exactly what you want with your project.

Speaking of architects that you will love… give us a call and let us know how we can help you design your dream spaces!

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