For Homeowner
Guide to Selecting an Architect
Feb 13, 2020
Architect working on a building design and 3D model
Architect working on a building design and 3D model

What can an architect do for me?

An architect can take on several key roles throughout the construction process. While sometimes they may be hired to draft and design plans for complex projects, they are also capable of taking on other responsibilities during the planning and construction process, particularly project management.

An architect, unlike a home designer, is a trained professional who has a license. A home designer may or may not be licensed, so while this means they are cheaper alternatives, this also can limit the range of their services. Designers, depending on state regulations, also may not be insured against malpractice.

While hiring an architect may seem like an expensive option, it will save you much more money in the long run. Architects are experts in using space efficiently and creatively, knowing what materials are the most economical, and distinguishing which design choices work and which don’t. An architect can tell you how to get the most natural lighting, how to get maximum storage space, where to place appliances in a kitchen to make it easiest to navigate, and much more. They can help you avoid building code violations, so you won’t have to waste time fixing problems found in the plans. They’ll streamline the whole process, so you’ll end up saving a great deal of time during your home’s planning and construction.

Some services an architect can provide include:

  • Drafting plans: For any construction project, you need a building permit to gain legal permission to begin construction. As part of the application, you’ll usually be asked to submit a building plan along with other materials. An architect will draft the plan in a clear and professional manner that communicates the design coherently to the city officials reviewing the plan, as well as engineers, contractors, and inspectors, and in so doing, streamlines the permitting process.

  • Architectural drawing drafted by an architect as part of the building plan
    Architectural drawing drafted by an architect as part of the building plan

  • Personalizing your space: Architects are trained in using spaces creatively. They will also actively communicate with you to incorporate your own personal preferences and flair into the design. Recommending fixtures and finishes: Some architects are also well-versed in choosing lights, carpets, cabinets, appliances, paint, and more to go with the design of your home. An additional fee may be required if you would like the architect to provide their recommendations on these items.
  • Understanding and addressing city codes and requirements: Architects make sure their designs adhere to city codes and standards. Depending on the type of submission, they can prepare much of the paperwork needed, which can save you a lot of time and money.
  • Working with the engineer and contractor to achieve your vision: Constructing a home is a team effort, and many architects have experience communicating with other specialized professionals to ensure the smooth running of a project.
  • Managing the project: Some architects, with your permission and an additional fee, will continue to work on the project after they submit plans and designs. Some of their functions may include making sure the project stays within the timeline and budget, as well as addressing problems and changes as they come up during construction.

Keep in mind that these are all things that an architect can potentially do for you. Not every architect will necessarily offer all of these services, so it is important to make sure which services are included when you are interviewing them, and how much prior experience they have.

How to find the right architect for you

You will be working closely with the architect on your project, so you’ll want to make sure you are both compatible and comfortable with each other before hiring. Asking the right questions> during an interview with a potential architect is the most important thing you can do to find out if they’re a good fit for you and your project. Keep in mind that this initial interview may not be free of charge.

Some topics you should cover include:
  • Interest and workload: Is the architect interested in your project? How many other projects are they working on at the same time as yours? Do they have room in their workload for your project? How many staff members do they have to share the workload?
  • Experience and references: What projects has the architect worked on in the past? Can they show you examples? Can you contact previous clients and see the finished products? Are they knowledgeable about obtaining permits and other applications?
  • Cooperability and communication: How well do they work with others? How do they handle conflict with clients? How will you communicate with them during the process?
  • Design process: What are the steps they plan to take in designing your space? Which responsibilities will they handle, and which will you? Will some part of the work be outsourced, and where? How often will you meet? How might they deal with changes in the design that happen during the building process?
  • Beyond the design phase: What can they do for you beyond designing and drawing plans? Can they recommend trusted suppliers and contractors?
  • Timeline: How long do they think it will take to plan, design, and complete the project? What strategies do they have to keep your project on time and within the budget?
  • Fees: How do they calculate their asking price? Is it an hourly rate, a percentage of the total project cost, or a flat fee? What happens to their fees when changes to the project scope are made? Will any services cost extra? Make sure you factor these fees into your overall budget.

Once you’re finished interviewing the architect, consider the most important question: is this someone you would like to work with? If so, then make sure everything you’ve both agreed on is in the contract, in terms of services, timeline, and fees.

Are you looking for an architect for your project? Design Everest has you covered! Call us at 877-704-5687 for a free consultation today to learn more about the architects we have on our team and our previous assignments. We will help find a perfect fit for you!

Sources:
[1] https://www.houselogic.com/remodel/budgeting-contracting/do-you-need-architect-your-remodeling-project/
[2] https://www.curbed.com/2018/1/29/16945396/architect-hiring-questions-renovation
[3] https://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/how-to-find-an-architect/
[4] https://www.bobvila.com/articles/706-to-hire-or-not-to-hire-an-architect-or-designer/
[5] https://www.todayshomeowner.com/do-you-need-an-architect-or-a-designer/
[6] https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/a12176/4284289/
[7] https://www.aiaetn.org/find-an-architect/selecting-an-architect/

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