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. Hence, you want your choice to be right the first time. The tips that follow will help you check the personality, design principles and communication skills of your prospects. Eventually, you want to find the architect who’s best for your situation, budget and preferences. Referrals Like most other professionals, architects get good portion of their business from the grapevine. Ask your relatives, friends and professional network for referrals. But don’t feel restricted to your community. In this day and age, it’s not surprising for an architect to work remotely on a project.
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An architect’s profile or website should be abundant in information on their previous work, as well as give you a feel for their ideals in their design practice. Sustainability? A neighborhood fit? Making a bold statement? Ask other pros in a related field. For instance, general contractors and interior designers can be great sources of 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 The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and other organizations also make good sources of prospects. Architects vs. Designers As you look for design help, you may encounter people who refer to themselves as architects or designers. Of course, there’s a difference. Licensed architects usually have a degree from an accredited college or university, have done a few thousand intern hours under the supervision of a licensed professional, and have passed eight challenging exams. Designers are those whose experience may include a drafting class at a city college — or they might actually hold a master’s in architecture from Harvard and have more than three decades 35 years of experience as a principal at a high-profile architectural firm, except they didn’t get their license for whatever reason. Initial Consultation After finding one or two seemingly good prospects, interview them. The initial consultation must cost you nothing, or find another prospect. Ask as many questions as you think you need to. Can I check out some work samples? How do you plan to approach my project? How much do I pay you and how? How long to completion are we looking at, from design to building permits to construction? Obviously, there are more questions than that, but the above should start you off on the right foot. Budget No matter the size of your budget, what’s important is, be upfront from the start. A great architect will give you a great design to fit your buck. Lastly, a great architect may be more expensive than your average one, but certainly, he’ll be worth it.