Whether your next project is a simple renovation, a major remodel or a custom designed home, hiring an architect is an important first step.
There are plenty of factors to consider in hiring an architect, who each has their own style, techniques and portfolio. Regardless of whether your project is large or small, once you have made the decision to bring in help, it is important to hire an architect who is right for you.
Put In A Plan
An architect can only help you when they understand the details and scope of the project. Clarify what your needs are, what work needs to be done, the timeline, and what your budget looks like. The more the architect knows about the project, the easier it will be to determine their prospective fees and whether they can meet the requirements.
Do Your Research
No two architects are exactly the same, so do your research. Your local chapter of The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is a great place to start. Ask friends for references, browse websites, review portfolios and visit previous projects to get a feel for their style. It’s good to interview at least three firms at their offices to make a comparison, because you will be working with them closely.
What Is The Vision?
References and portfolios are great, but that doesn’t indicate how an architect will approach your project. Ask how they envision the solutions to what you need, what currently works, and what needs to be improved. Learn how they think and work. Get a strong feel for their signature style to ensure it can be tailored with your project.
What To Ask
No question in your hiring process should feel insignificant. Understand the fees involved, the terms of the contract agreement, and what the contract does and doesn’t cover. Many architects offer many other services during construction, so understand what is included. If you are considering hiring a firm, know who will be designing the project, who will do the work, and what contractors will be hired. Be sure to consult the AIA owner-architect agreement and have a signed contract before work begins.
Above all else, be candid and clear in your communications about your expectations. Ask about anything you do not understand. Take the time to work closely with the architect on pre-design services before any work begins; the due diligence in the beginning will help avoid a whole host of issues that can arise.