The 7 Things You Should Look For When Hiring an Architect

Whether you are wanting to remodel an existing home or build a residence from the ground up, you might want to consider hiring an architect. These trained professionals work diligently to help guide you through the completion of a project. Unlike the contractors who complete most of the construction, it is said that effective architects will help increase your return on investment. Quality architectural designs not only add value to your property, but also work to increase the elements of light and space which adds to the function of your home overall. It is important to note that whether you are doing a simple remodel or building a brand new home, you need to make sure you are comfortable with the architect you hire. Here is a list of list of things to be observant of when hiring an architect.

1. Prepare for initial consultation

It is important to note that while some architects do not charge for the initial consultations others will. It is important to discuss this detail before you schedule the initial meeting in order to avoid receiving an invoice from an architect you did not even choose to complete your project. Communication will be the guiding factor that fuels the completion of your project. In an effort to begin the project with a strong start, you should prepare a brief. This is a mini outline that reviews the details of your project that describes your overall goal, preferred design style, visual aides and any special requests you may want to include. During this initial consultation assess if the architect’s personality is to your liking.

2. Assess the architect’s capabilities

After presenting your brief to the architect ask for their advice and professional opinion on your project. Ask if they would be interested in taking on the project and why. It is also important to review the strengths and weaknesses of your project to see how complex the project will be. Follow up with questions to see how well they explain things to you. Furthermore, determine whether you are comfortable with the architect’s teaching style because they will be teaching you often about the micro-details of your project. Lastly, ask if they are able to create a three-dimensional layout for you before the architect begins the project. This ensures everyone can be clear about the designs because sometimes blueprints can be hard to comprehend.

3. Review contractors

Talk about potential contractors who will be able to carry out your project. Make sure to ask for the architect’s opinion on who they suggest and who they have worked well with in the past. However, understand that just because the architect suggests certain contractors does not mean those people are the ones you have to choose. After discussing the different contractor options that you have available, research those recommended contractors and price compare with other companies. Pay special attention to any contractor firms that have negative reviews for their quality of work. These are probably not the contractors that you want to work on your home.

4. Plan out a tentative timeline for your project

One common misconception about the timeline of design projects is that clients may think once they pick an architect and decide on a design, work will begin right away. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There may be a slight delay before the actual work begins because of building regulations to ensure structural safety, and the ordering of required materials. Furthermore, discuss how often updates will be reported. Suggest meeting with the contractor and the architect for weekly check-ins and status updates so that all three parties are on the same page throughout the length of the project.

5. Discuss a budget and compensation

It is important to review and ask very specific questions regarding how the architect will be compensated. During this time you will want to evaluate a few things. Discuss the budget that you have in mind for this project. Keep in mind many remodeling projects range upward of $50,0000 when the cost of labor and temporary living arrangements (if applicable) are calculated into the cost of the project. The cost of a project is determined by a myriad of factors including geographical location, length of the project and cost of materials. Make sure to review this information with the architect. Also, ask for the frequency of payments. Some architects require a monthly payment that can range from 5%-20% of the project’s cost overall. If possible, ask to see the architect’s typical contract and have them explain the agreement to you. If you do not feel comfortable with how the architect explains the document, maybe they are not the architect for your project.

6. Examine expectations of one another

Explain your expectations of the architect and see if they meet all of your desired criterion. For example, who will be in charge of ordering materials, managing the contractor, and reviewing invoices? For everything the architect is not responsible for, determine if you would feel comfortable completing those duties. If not, consider looking elsewhere. Also, make sure to discuss the long term implications of what will be built or modified. You want to avoid anything trendy that will not age well design wise. Lastly, talk about potential deviations from the plan. If there are changes to the original plan, review who will make the final decision of any potential changes to materials, colors, or design.

7. Examine previous work

Before you hire anyone to work on your home ask if the suggested architect has a portfolio of their previous projects. Also inquire about the architect’s preferred architectural design and if they like to add modern, rustic, or historic elements to their work. After the conversation feel free to ask for references and follow up with other families the architect has worked with in the past. Be specific with your questions and feel free to ask about how the architect handles conflict and if they were able to stay within budget.

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