You’ll want to be sure you hire the right person to design your home. After all, this is the place you’ll be living and the details of how the home is put together will matter. Follow these simple guidelines to create the right relationship with the right architect.
1. Ask your friends for referrals. It is always best to work with someone who has a good track record with people you trust. If you have friends who have recently had work done, ask them about their experience with the architect they used.
2. Take a tour around town. Drive around in your town and look for new homes under construction, remodels and additions. If you like the look of the architecture, get the name of the architect from the contractor on site.
3. Size matters. Ask the potential architects what their philosophy is on home size and other design criteria. Make sure you have compatible belief systems. You don’t want an architect designing a 4000 SF house for you when all you want is 1200 SF and vice versa.
4. Ask your board. Consider asking your local historical society or design review committee for recommendations.
5. The old fashioned way. Use the yellow pages or an on-line directory to locate local architects. Be sure to interview at least three different architects and that the person you are interviewing is actually the person who will be doing the work, not just the firm’s contact person.
6. Check references. Ask to speak with past clients and visit their projects. Ask the clients what their experience was. Were they happy? Did the architect respond to their input in a timely manner? Would they work with the architect again on future projects?
7. How are you protected? What kind of insurance does the architect have to protect the client if something goes wrong during construction.
8. Efficiency and accountability. Be clear as to what your expectations are. For example, all calls to be returned within 24 hours on week days. Be clear with your requirements so there is no grey area.
9. Back me up. Will the architect give you representation if there is a problem with the contractor or subcontractors?
10. Verify. Make sure that the architect has all of the required licenses. It is easy to misrepresent as an architect when someone is only a designer. There is nothing wrong with using a designer; however, they are not architects and should not represent themselves as such or charge as much.
11. Can’t we all just get along? Communication is key. You will know right away if you are compatible with the architect and whether you will be comfortable working with them in the long run. Listen to your gut instincts. They don’t lie. This is my favorite and most important guideline when I hire anyone.
12. How much? Discuss direct costs and associated fees. Know exactly what you are getting for your dollar.
13. How Long? Ask for a timeline for the project. Most architects will be able to give you a rough estimate of how long the design process will take. Once you decide to go with an architect, get the timeline in writing so that you can hold the architect accountable if the deadlines are missed.