7 Essential Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Architect

Whether it’s building from the group up or remolding some outdated rooms, choosing the right architecture isn’t a decision to take lightly. After all they are the brains behind the operation, an adequate problem solver, a good listener, and the one keeping your budget on track. How can you be sure you found the right one? We list several questions that are good starting points to help find the right candidate

1. What are the biggest challenges and attractions of this job?

Although a beautiful portfolio can’t help but to be noticed, how the architect plans to handle your situation is essential.  A few questions that could be asked during the interview process is:

  • What’s working now, and what can be improved?
  •  How will a remodel blend with the rest of the house?
  •  What will be the challenges?

The answers are important, but you’ll also want to use these early conversations to make sure you have a good rapport and that your personalities are compatible. Although there are a number of architect that could be hired for one job, the difference is how well they can match their design with your taste and lifestyle.

2. Do you have a signature style?

Most architects are adaptability but some do have their expertise areas such as modern, beach house, or reinterpretations of historical houses. By talking about the architect signature style up front you can decide if it’s right for you.

3. Who will design my project?

If you hire a sole proprietor then you will have just one person doing all the work, but don’t be alarmed if who you hire isn’t the one handling all the actual design work. This is OK as long as you understand this upfront. Good communication is crucial for a successful job, you need to meet the lead architect before hiring the firm

4. What project management services do you provide?

Archeticets do more than just draw designs and make blueprints. Other common services are:

  • Manage the project
  •  Help you hire a contractor
  •  Check the contractor’s work as the job proceeds
  •  Make design adjustments as the work progresses
  •  Review invoices to ensure that payments never get ahead of the work
  •  Obtain necessary lien waivers from all contractors so no one can make a claim against your property later

Ask your architect which of these services he provides, and what they cost. Some services, like site inspections and revisions, should be part of your contract. Others likely will be a la carte

5. How do you charge?

Architects usually charge a percentage of the total project cost, anywhere from 5%-20%, depending on the services provided, the complexity of the job, and the renown of the architect. Ask what percentage the architect will charge for your project, and when and how payments will be due.

Architects typically bill monthly, starting as soon as they begin work. But most up-front design work happens before you bring in a contractor and know the total project cost.

6. Can you provide three dimension drawings?

Ask your candidate how the ideas and drawings will be presented. Most architects now use software to render 3-D images that can be rotated and viewed from multiple angles. A lack of 3-D rendering capabilities may mean the candidate isn’t up to speed on the latest building techniques and methods.

7. Will you recommend two or three other contractors?

Good architects can recommend reliable general contractors in your area and help you evaluate portfolios and bids. They may even recommend someone they’ve worked with before and set up some meet and greets. But don’t stop your search with the first contractor you like. It’s always a good idea to get multiple bids, which may give you some bargaining power with the one you ultimately pick.



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One response to “7 Essential Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Architect

  1. Scott says:

    I like that you suggest to ask for 3-d drawings from the architect you are considering. I can see why this would be a good indicator of how current they are on their tactics. My brother wants to build a shed in his backyard. I’ll have to talk to him to see if he is thinking about having an architect design it.

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