When you decide to build a new home or renovate an existing one, an architect can help you put your ideas in motion. Architects help people take an idea of a space(s) and determine if the idea melds with reality to making your home the way you have dreamed.  Although it is an exciting process to hire an architect, there are tips for helping it go smoother.  Read on for tips for hiring an architect, and what to expect in the process.

  • Research your local architecture governing body: Depending on where you live, architects will have a governing regulation body that helps the professional and the consumer. From negotiating fees, to contracts and rights of the architect and owner. This is a good place to research architects in your area and specifically for the job you are interested in them performing.
  • Have an idea of what you’d like: Architects can walk through how to transform your space into a new space, but will need guidance. Similar to a doctor who needs to know where it hurts, an architect will best serve you if you know what you’d like to change. If you want an area larger or smaller? Does the current space meet your family needs but you want it to be aesthetically nicer? Have general guidelines for what you need your architect to help you with.
  • Determining if you need an architect: An architect helps design a space and how it interacts with other spaces in your home. If you need help with structural or mechanical, electrical or plumbing concerns, then an architect will call on an engineer. If you a specific design challenge, like your kitchen is too closed in and needs to be opened up into the living room, then an architect can help. If you have a doorway that wants to be made into an opening and that is all, a general contractor may be helpful, as there is no ‘design’ involved.
  • Ask for referrals: If you have a neighbor who hired an architect recently or you went to a friends’ home and saw design work by an architect, ask the owner for more information. If you don’t have access to any referrals, consider contacting the local architecture governing body for a list of architects in your area.
  • Questions to ask an architect: When you meet with an architect, have a list of questions prepared if they don’t answer them first. *How are they paid? By retainer first and then by milestones throughout the project? *Do you pay for materials and labor by the hour? *If problems or unforeseen circumstances arise, how do they handle the original contract terms and price?  All architects work differently, so find this info out in advance. Also ask to review the contract in advance and consider hiring an attorney or outside entity to review on your behalf.
  • Ask about schedule and supervision: Depending on the size of your project and the size of the architectural firm you hire, the schedule could be pushed off into the future due to waiting lists. Ensure in writing when design work will begin, and when each phase should be expected to take place. Once construction begins, ask the architect how often they will supervise the project and/or if they have representatives that will come on their behalf.

When you decide to make design changes to your home, hiring an architect is an important step to make.  An architect can help you with the design and solve troublesome challenges that your home and family have faced in the past. Take your time and interview several architects to determine the right architect for your needs. Once you have chosen them, your home is on its way to how you always dreamed it would be.

Freshome readers tell us your experience with hiring an architect for your home. Are you an architect? Feel free to add on to the tips above!