Finding a reliable architect


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Old 07-17-05, 07:28 PM
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Question Finding a reliable architect

How do I find a reliable/good architect? Is there an organization, in the Chicago area, that can recommend a few?
I'd like to have an architect do some drawings for a basement family/TV room and a bathroom. How much can I expect to pay for these drawings?
 
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Old 07-17-05, 07:44 PM
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tranch,

One of our members, Source - Brian Garrison, General Contractor/Professional Building Designer provided this as one idea and a statement on fees;

"As far as finding a good draftsmen here in town we go to the Junior College or the High schools and ask the instructors who they would reccomend. You can get a reasonable price and the students are monitored by the professors so you get professional help at a reasonable price. In california your designer does not need to be licensed but you will need to have a structural engineer involved depending on the design.

the AIA (American Institute of architects) reccomends their members to charge 5-10% of the cost of the project. Around here the average is closer to 3-5%.

The questions I would ask:

Cost
Time Frame from design to start of construction
What is included in the original fees, whats not included.
Whats considered a change and what is the cost of these changes.
references. (call and ask these basic questions... on time, on budget, with quality, how much help once the checks were cashed and cinstruction began).
I would ask how much access the architect gives during construction.

I personally in my business am a contractor's designer. I complete the plans, gain permit and stay hands off unless there is a need for my expertise.

I would also get three bids form local residential designers. Experience does not always happen in the classroom.

The most important issue in working with an architect/designer is the relationship and communication between you the homeowner and them. If communication is poor so will the project. It is a long term committment 6 months to a year or more. Think about whether it will be an easy relationship to maintain during that time period."

Hope you don't mind Brian.

I inturn suggest calling a local lumber yard and ask who might they refer as additional resources for a good designer. These fees versus that of an architect are usually cheaper but by no means lacking the skills to do what is necessary. You could even try a local Builder Association for resources, NARI, NAHB, etc.

Costs can vary but ensuring that what is needed by your local Building authorities is really important. You could prepare a sketch of what you might have in mind and share this with your designer/architect. As Brian mentioned and I stress this as well, communication is vital.

I hope this helps.
 
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Old 07-18-05, 08:50 AM
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my 2 cents (as an architect)

I would argue against hiring a student. I think, in general, they won't have the experience or committment to complete your project.

regardless of who you go with, as for the architect / designer to give you some previous clients that you can talk to for their opinion. also, ask to see their portfolio, so you can see if their designs are similar to what you are interested in.

the AIA is a good resource for finding firms. your local yellow pages is another good source.

prices will depend on the service level (are you asking for design service only, or full project assistance? i.e.: will the architect be available for questions during construction? This is often much more valuable than you may realize.)
and the individual architect.

It usually pays to interview 3 or so architects.

good luck.
 
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Old 07-18-05, 01:48 PM
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tranch,

you need to decide what experience level you require to allow yourself to feel comfortable. If you are looking for a licensed architect I agree with trance that the A.I.A. is your best bet. If you are looking for a good,competent designer I would call a couple of builders you know and ask who they reccomend. I receive referrals from the local blueprint company I use. I recieve referrals from contractors, some I have not even met or worked with. So you can use both these sources for finding a qualified person.

My reccomendation on students was for a lady who was short on money as she had been cheated by a contractor. When using a student draftsmen whether it be High School, College or tech school if you find them through the school it is the teacher who reccomends them. It is the teacher who oversees the final project and whose expertise is loaned to the student. It is good work experience for the student and the client gets a more affordable set of con docs.

I do not say which of these choices to use just that they are all available. There are some jobs that you absolutely want expertise and experience to manage. I also agree with Trance with regards to the rules of three. You always want at least three bids if using an Architect or a designer. Price is only part of the equation you also have to be able to communicate easily with whom ever you hire to achieve a harmonious project.

I hope this helps.


Brian Garrison
General Contractor/Professional Building Designer
 
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Old 07-18-05, 01:52 PM
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If an instructor is willing to oversee the project, then, by all means, hire the student. I think it this situation however, you are really hiring the instructor (after a fashion).

I will agree with Brian - hire who you need. Architects can be overkill for some projects.
 
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Old 07-22-05, 02:50 PM
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I second that sentiment. As an architect, we often get calls from people who want us to "design a deck" or finish out a space. While these are certainly worthwhile projects to the client, they are often time drainers for us, keeping us from working on bigger projects. We actually keep a list of good designers in the office to refer people to when projects like this come along. You might also consider hiring an architecture student, if you can find one. I did a few projects like that while i was in school.
 
 

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