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5 Questions to Ask an Architect Before You Hire

Hawaii Architect

Hiring the right architect to design your dream home or create the perfect renovation plan can seem daunting at first. Start the process with five simple tips for what to ask potential architects, and, of course, Home Planning Hawaii is also available to help you. Remember, while an architect might not be necessary for small projects, the City and County of Honolulu requires an architect for all projects over $40,000. It’s important to factor architectural services into your budget to ensure your dream home becomes a reality.

  1. What are the biggest challenges you see in completing this project? While a good architect will create achievable and cost-effective plans, all major construction and renovation projects involve challenges. The best architects will help you understand what parts of your general plan work, and which may need some revision. Addressing the potential challenges while interviewing architects will help you gauge an architect’s skill set and flexibility, especially when planning an extensive home renovation.
  2. How do you describe your design style or aesthetic? You may meet an architect with the right skills, job experience, and glowing referrals from friends or neighbors. But a successful project requires design compatibility between the client and the architect. Make sure to ask for photos or even an on-site tour of past projects to see if your architect’s style syncs with your own. An expert in minimalist design may not be the best fit if you love a more traditional aesthetic.
  3. What’s a reasonable cost estimate for my project?  Architectural fees differ based on each project. Architects begin with a quote based on 10% of the construction cost for a new home or commercial project, and 10-15% for renovations.  Make sure to clarify potential unknown costs with your architect, and as plans solidify, ask for an itemized quote to make sure you avoid unforeseen charges. In addition, fee proposals can be % based, time & material or lump sum based on total hours.
  4. What’s the best way to communicate with you? Often hiring an architect means working closely with their staff. Will your architect be personally designing your plans, or do they work with partners to create the finished blueprints? Make sure to establish a protocol for contacting the architect or staff with questions and concerns once the project begins. It’s important that you feel confident in your project and its progress, so make sure you always know who to contact, and the best way to communicate effectively.  
  5. Can you describe your role in completing and managing this project? How will this person interact with your contractor to complete your designs? Will the architect be involved in monitoring work progress, and what happens if a design change needs to be made? Determining the role your architect will play in creating the final product is vital to a successful project. Additionally, make sure to determine which services are included in the project estimate, and which will incur an additional fee. This helps avoid potential conflicts later, and helps you manage your budget throughout the construction process.

Ready to find the best architect for you? Contact us today to arrange a complimentary initial meeting to help you visualize your budget, design needs, and architectural goals.