Choosing an architect to design your new home isn’t a decision to take lightly. Not only will she provide the brains and creative direction for your project, she’ll be the one keeping everything on track and on budget. Not to mention, you’re going to be spending a serious amount of time with this person.
That’s why it’s so important that you hire an architect you can trust. Houses are extremely personal spaces, and when you feel comfortable talking to the person you’re working with about your habits, hobbies, and family dynamics, you’re more likely to end up with a home that truly reflects your wants and needs. Here are five questions to ask each of your candidates to find the right architect for you.
1. Do you have experience with the building type and size of my project?
For the most part, an architect’s portfolio is a good representation of the type of work she has experience with as well as her style. If the projects in her portfolio are so diverse that you can’t get a feel for what she likes working on, it pays to ask. You’ll want to hire an architect who really enjoys your type of project for the best fit.
2. What is my project’s potential?
Once an architect has seen the site where you plan to build your home, ask her what strengths she would highlight with the design. Do you have a gorgeous lakefront lot surrounded by beautiful trees? Ask her how she would capitalize on the view and neighboring landscape to see if her ideas are complementary to what you envision for the space.
3. How will you collect information about my wants, needs and goals?
You’ll want to hire an architect who has an in-depth interview process that allows her to get an accurate picture of what you’re looking for. A good architect will ask you questions about how you’ll use each room and how you want the space to feel. An architect who simply tells you where he or she thinks a window should go won’t give you the experience – or house – you really want.
4. How involved will you be in my project?
Many architects can do more than come up with the design and blueprint for your new house. Ask each candidate what project management services she provides and how much they cost. Add-on services may include, but aren’t limited to, helping you hire contractors, making design adjustments as the project progresses, and reviewing invoices to make sure your payments don’t get ahead of the work.
5. How do you establish your fees?
Architects typically charge 5 to 20 percent of the total project cost. The fee largely depends on what services your architect provides, the complexity of the job, and how much experience she has. Ask each candidate whether she bills hourly or charges a retainer fee, and how often you can expect to receive an invoice. Getting a clear understanding of the payment plan will help you manage your remodeling budget and keep spending in check.