How to Hire and Work with an Architect

Why Hire an Architect?

Architects solve problems

Architects can assist you through the maze of design options, building codes, zoning laws, contractors, and permitting requirements. The architect is the one professional who has the education, training, experience, and vision to guide you through the entire design and construction process, from helping you define what you want to build to helping you get the most for your construction dollar.

Architects can save you money

Architect services are a wise investment for the money, not an added cost to your project because a well-conceived and designed project can be built more efficiently and economically and increase your property value. Architects avoid oversized rooms and wasted space and can help you select materials within your budget and at a fair price.

Architects can make your life easier

Architects look out for your interests and find ways to make the process go smoothly and help you find a qualified and reputable contractor. They visit the construction site to help verify that the project is being built according to the plans and specifications.

Working with an Architect

Clients often have questions on how to select an architect. Your decision should be based on your confidence in the architect’s technical competence, professional service and design ability. Here are some suggestions on how to proceed in the selection process.

  • Choose an architect as early in the process as possible. The more information that is shared, the more chance there is for a successful project.
  • Interview at least 3 firms, unless you already have a good relationship with an architect.
  • Ask prospective firms to show you their completed projects.
  • In the interview process, treat each firm equally: ask the same questions and give the same access to your site or existing house.
  • Give each architect a time for notification of your decision, and after you have notified the selected firm, notify the others as to your decision.
  • Begin negotiations with the selected firm on a fee. If you cannot agree, you may want to begin negotiating with your second choice.
  • After you have selected your architect continue to ask questions.
  • Communication is very important. Tell the architect what you know and what you expect. Ask for an explanation of anything you don’t understand.
  • Remember that this is a business relationship and that any good business relationship requires a contract. (The American Institute of Architects has developed a series of contracts that may be useful to you.) Remember that it is very important that the “chemistry” is right between you and your architect. You will want to select the architect who understands what you want and is able to translate that into the design that is right for you.