You’ve been imagining your dream house for months, (or even years!) and you’re finally ready to design and build the perfect home. Now all you need to do is find an architect capable of making your dreams a reality. Finding the right architect can be challenging, but asking good questions can simplify the process and save you time and money long-term. Here’s six questions that will help you develop a positive working relationship with your architect.
- Can I see your portfolio?
Even highly skilled architects gravitate towards projects that match a personal aesthetic. Looking at portfolio of someone’s best work will help you determine compatibly. If the majority of their work includes a series of commercial offices, or even residential work that doesn’t match your personal style, they might not be the best fit. Find and architect with a body of work that shows a passion for the style of home you hope to build.
- Can you provide references?
Established and reliable architects or architectural firms should be able to provide multiple references, from past clients and homeowners, to contractors and builders. Make sure to actually follow through and contact each reference, and ask them to describe their experience with the architect. Here’s what to focus on:
- What did you like about working with this architect?
- What went well during the project?
- Did the architect stay on budget and was work completed on time?
- What concerns, if any, arose during this project? How did this architect address those challenges or concerns?
- Are we financially compatible?
When it comes to establishing a budget, transparency is key. Be honest with your architect about your budget, and recognize that your budget may not fit with a particular firm’s expectations. If the architect can work within your budget, invest time in discussing the upfront deposits, fee schedule, hourly rate for additional work, and most importantly, any costs that may be excluded in an initial estimate. “Hidden” costs may include building permits, upgrades, or environmental impact surveys that aren’t directly connected to the cost of building. Before you sign a contract with an architect, make sure your estimate is as comprehensive as possible. Lastly, check back with the provided references to ensure that the architect has a reputation for staying on budget.
- Can I meet the team?
Most architecture firms work closely with builders and contractors on a regular basis, and will recommend one to you after reviewing your project. If you choose to work with the professionals suggested by the architect, interview them as well to get an idea of how they intend to work with you on building your home. After your plans are approved, the contractor is the person most responsible for the success of your project, so getting to know them (and asking them for references as well,) is an important part of the building process.
- How will we work together?
Does your architect expect weekly input on progress reports, or only for major design choices? Do you want the team to make the majority of choices, or are you a detail-oriented person invested in each aspect of your home’s construction? There’s no right answer, but transparency between you and your architect and the construction team will help expedite progress and reduce stress. Make sure you develop a clear communication plan with both your architect and your contractor, and have a plan for how to resolve the challenges that inevitably come with building a home.
- How environmentally sustainable is your work?
With the variety of new materials, building techniques, and technology now available in residential construction, building an environmentally friendly home is more affordable than ever. Not only will green building potentially save you money while building your home, it’s also an investment in long-term energy savings. Ask your architect how they’ve incorporated sustainability into recent projects. With all the resources now available, experienced designers should be well-versed in reducing the environmental impact of your home.
Building a home is an exciting life stage, which ideally ends with you enjoying your dream home. Let us make the process as enjoyable as possible by helping you find the perfect team for your next project. Whether you’re renovating an older home or starting with an empty lot, we’re here to connect you with the best architects, designers, builders, and contractors in the business.