Selecting an Architect

Selecting an Architect:
Before you begin selecting an architect, you must first determine your needs for space and style and the budget  that you can afford. It’s human nature to want more than we can afford, so I recommend you include a 15% allowance in your budget for potential additional wants and needs as the job progresses. Once these critical items have been determined, you are ready to begin the process of selecting an architect.
As a custom homebuilder for the past 30 plus years, I can easily choose which architect I would use for a project as I’m very familiar with with their styles, temperament and fee structure. However, I’m not the Homeowner, it’s not a house I will live in and I’m not paying for the design. My goal for clients is to use my knowledge to help them pick the architect that is right for them.
Potential clients that come to me to request references for an architect get my standard recommendations:
First, I request a meeting with the homeowner. I like to ask several questions and then I just sit and take notes. People will tell you what their expectations are and even argue out their thoughts with their spouse if you just prompt them and sit there and listen.
Once my initial meeting with the potential homeowner has taken place, I make 2 architect references for the homeowner to interview. I assist them in compiling a list of questions to ask the architect and I even offer to attend the meeting. Sometimes they’d like me to attend and sometimes they prefer to go it alone without a feeling of commitment to me as a builder.
The meeting with an architect should take approximately 1 hour. Several items need to be addressed in this meeting.
  1. The Homeowner needs to be prepared to convey to the Architect the style of house they want by stating a particular architectural style or by expressing the materials they prefer in a design. Is it a historic reproduction of style, traditional, modern, a mix of traditional and modern or is it a contemporary design?
  2. What styles does the architect feel most comfortable working within?
  3. What kind of timeframe is expected for the completions of plans?
  4. How detailed is the architect going to be in the design? Will the architect design floor plans, sections for permit and elevations or will he/she design floor plans, elevations detailed wall sections, detailed interior elevations and finished material schedules and specifications.
  5. Fee structure. Some architects work on a flat fee plus expenses and others work off a percentage of the construction cost plus expenses.
After interviews with two different architects a good feeling for the best fit for the project should have been obtained. Remember, one of the most important elements in working with an architect is the ease of communication back and forth. A homeowner cannot feel intimidated to discuss all of his/her questions. They have to feel that their voices are being heard and their requests are always considered. There are no dumb questions

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