How to Work With an Architect

Whether you’re building a house from the ground up or simply putting an addition on an existing home, working alongside an architect for the first time can be a bit intimidating. You want to ensure that you’re finding the right person for the job, and it can be tough to know if you’re asking the right questions. Here's how you can work seamlessly with an architect on a home project of any size.

What to Look for When Hiring an Architect

Someone sitting over a blueprint.

Building the home of your dreams or watching your current home transform to match your vision is exciting. You should find an architect who shares that sentiment and is perfectly suited to make your home dreams come true. To get started in the hiring process, though, you’ll need to know what to look for in this individual.

An easy first step to take in your quest for an architect is to seek referrals. If you’re working with other vendors whom you trust and regard as knowledgeable, ask them if they have anyone in the industry that they would recommend. Also check with friends and family who have had similar home experiences, seeing if they’d highly recommend anyone in the area. You want someone dependable, knowledgeable, resourceful, and someone that you can easily get along with since you’ll be working closely together. Finding someone communicative is also key.

Once you narrow it down to some choices, you’ll want to do your research on these architects. Look into their bios on their profiles or websites. Carefully look into their portfolio of past projects to detect if their expertise aligns with what you need and are looking for in the professional you hire. You should carefully consider items such as the style of designs they are prone to creating and whether they are using sustainable methods and materials.

What Questions to Ask

Once you’ve found some individuals to interview for the position, you’ll want to ensure you’re asking the right questions to find the best possible person for the job. Start by asking to see examples of an architect’s previous work (if you haven’t already) to ensure it aligns with the type of work you’re looking to have done. Next, ask the candidate how they would approach the project that you are gearing up to complete.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re hiring someone that is going to be open and honest with you. The building and renovation process can be a long and messy one, and communication throughout it is key! Ask the candidates what obstacles they anticipate running into throughout the completion of the project and how they plan to deal with them as they arise. Clarify a general timeline for the project from their eyes, and gain an understanding of what permits will be needed for it to be completed.

Finally, you’ll want to discuss your budget in conjunction with their fees to verify that you are on the same page and that you’re hiring someone who will fit within the constraints of your budget.

Working With Your Architect

A meeting over blueprints.

Once you’ve hired the right individual, you’re probably wondering what to expect in working together from there on out. You’ll start the process together by having at least one (but potentially more) preliminary meetings. This time will be used to pinpoint the goals of the project and hash out some questions about the new space, different desires for the project, and determining how to get there. This is the time where your architect will really get their ideas flowing.

Next, your chosen architect will start drawing up plans. To help them do this more effectively, find examples of what you like as far as style and layout goes in magazines or online. Clearly articulate likes and especially dislikes so that they are drawing up plans that most carefully mirror your desires and tastes. These drawn out plans will be the start of your vision coming to life, and they’ll serve as a roadmap of where to go from there in the building process.

After that, your architect will begin to act as a project manager on your building project. Not only will they help you to work with contractors and oversee the project as it progresses, but they’ll also assist you in choosing materials, color and design schemes, and in vendor selections as needed. Finally, they will help you to acquire necessary permits to get the job done in a way that meets all regulations.

Now that you know how to find and select the best architect and what their role will be in your home building or improvement project, you’re ready to get started in the process. Hiring an architect will be a huge help on moving your project forward and it can even save you money, so it’s worth the research and investment.