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3 Factors to Consider When Choosing an Architect | Reno Quotes

Last modified: 2020-07-31 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Amanda Harvey

Everyone approaches their home with an idea in mind. For some, that means dreaming about a spacious kitchen, for others, a decadent bathroom or an entire structural overhaul to a floor of the home. There seem to be endless possibilities for a self-designed home, and the most ambitious homeowners among us may be ready to take this on. Of course, for many large-scale, dream projects to come to fruition, you should consider collaborating with an architect.

When it comes to choosing the right architect for the job, many factors go into the process. You’ll want to work with someone who understands your vision and has the skills to carve it out. If you’re not sure how to approach this, we’re here to share our top-notch tips for choosing the right architect for your home.

3 criteria to consider when choosing an architect

backyard

Why working with an architect is valuable

Let’s start by thinking about why working with an architect is valuable. Some aspects that go into building and planning a major renovation are often overlooked by those who don’t have experience in this field. An architect is a phenomenal resource, as they’ll be able to approach complicated planning procedures with ease.

Not only this, but they’ll also understand site-specific design that focuses on how to best make use of your home and it’s perimeters. This could include maximizing natural light, creating extra space or storage solutions as well as finding the right materials, accessories, finishes and fixtures.

Generally, an architect is looking to do meaningful work to increase the value of your home. This isn't in monetary terms alone, but in fact, it will add a sense of wellbeing and comfort that aids in your quality of life. One way to lean into this project is to understand your needs and how an architect can best meet them. 

Begin by building a list of several architects who you’re interested in working with, and calling each of their firms to make sure they’re available to take on your project (or use a service like ours to skip this step and have us do this for you). Have the ideal scope of the work mapped out. If a few firms confirm that they can take on the job, make sure to ask for literature that clearly outlines the firm's qualifications and experience. In cases where the firm is unable to take on the job, ask if they’re able to recommend someone for your project. 

When it comes down to what you’re looking for, how do you choose? Here’s what you should be looking for. 

1- Chemistry

Chemistry isn’t just for the wide world of dating. In fact, interviewing potential architects for the position is the most crucial step of your project. This is because it will help to determine whether there is chemistry between you two. Bear in mind that you'll be working with this person for a long time, and thus you’ll want both personality and vision to gel. 

Allow each interview to run the course of an hour, as this will give you a solid idea of how you relate to them. If possible, ask to meet at their office, as examples of their previous work will be readily available to you. If you’d prefer, hold the interview at your home so the architect can get an idea of what perimeters they’d be working within. Do be certain to ask if there is a fee for the meeting, as some architects charge for the meeting alone!

Of course, during the interview you’ll want to come prepared with several questions, here are a few you may consider asking:

  • How busy is your firm?
  • Do you have the space to take on this project?
  • What is the design philosophy of your firm?
  • How do you intend to approach this project?

Also, make sure to discuss the budget during this initial meeting. Finally, ask your architect for references, as these may be invaluable to the decision making process. 

Home design architect work

2- Do they meet your needs?

When it comes to working with an architect, there is a set of basic services that they’ll provide. This includes the following:

  • Schematic design
  • Design development
  • Preparation of construction documents
  • Bidding / negotiation

Beyond these initial services, you’ll be required to define the specific needs of your project. Some projects will require special costs or energy analysis, or specific drawing, presentation types or models. Naturally, the architect of your choice should be able to meet them, and in some scenarios, go beyond.

In certain cases, you may possess the skills it takes to undergo some of the work yourself, including aspects of planning and design. Again, working with an architect is about finding someone who has the expertise to complement your own, so consider what you already possess and what you’re externally looking for. 

Home interior design by architect

3- Respect and understanding

Being upfront with your architect from the get-go in terms of budget is important. The architect you choose will need to be realistic and work within the confines that you set, as many homeowners don’t have disposable income they can simply throw around. If you find during the interview process that certain architects try to talk you into architectural features that don’t fit into your overall cost, then this may not be the right match.

As a creative, the role of the architect is to develop and expand on your brief. Thus, there needs to be a level of deep listening and understanding. Be certain that the expert you’re working with takes the time to listen to your plans in full, as well as questions and concerns, so they don't veer too far from what you originally wanted. 

At the end of the day, you’re looking for an architect that can master your creative vision but is willing to openly communicate about project logistics. 

Small home designed by architect

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