How to Choose an Architect
The client-architect relationship is pretty personal, involving discussions on your tastes, your hobbies and habits, and even your most intimate relationships. Therefore, you’ll want your choice to be perfect. The pointers that follow will help you understand the personality, design philosophy and communication skills of your prospects. At the end of the day, you want to find the architect who’s just right for your budget, your situation and your preferences.
Just like other professionals, architects get a good chunk of their business through the grapevine. Ask your relatives, friends and professional network for referrals. But don’t feel restricted to your community. In this generation of email and Skype, architects are known to work remotely on a project.
5 Uses For Architecture
An architect’s profile or website must provide complete information on their previous projects, as well as give you a vibe for the principles that govern their design practice. Sustainability? Blending into the neighborhood? Getting noticed? Talk to professionals in a related field. For example, general contractors and interior designers can be good sources of architect referrals. A contractor and an architect who work well as a team is probably the most crucial ingredient of a successful project.
The American Institute of Architects
Professional organizations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) are also good providers of prospects.
Architects vs. Designers
When you search for design help, you may meet people who bill themselves as architects or designers. Of course, there’s a difference. Licensed architects hold a degree from an accredited college or university, have done thousands of intern hours under a licensed professional, and have taken a series of eight rigorous exams with flying colors.
Designers, on the other hand, have experience consisting of a drafting class at a city college — or they can actually hold a master’s in architecture from Harvard and have 40 years of experience as a principal at one of the most prominent architectural firms in the country, but just didn’t get their license.
After finding one or two seemingly good prospects, interview them. This initial meeting must cost you zero, or look elsewhere. Ask a lot of questions.
Can I check out some work samples? What is your approach to my project? How much should I pay you and how? How long will it take to finish this project, including design, permits and construction? Obviously, there are more questions than that, but the above should start you off on the right foot.
Regardless of your budget size, be upfront from the very beginning. A great architect will be able to come up with a great design that matches your buck. Finally, a great architect may also cost you more than an average one, but he’s usually worth it.