Tasked with planning, designing, and overseeing the construction of your project, an architect plays a powerful role in determining the look and feel of your home. In turn, the appeal and comfort of your home will impact your family’s homelife for years to come.
Considering how you’re placing your house in the hands of your architect, it’s essential to hire a reputable, talented professional you can trust. Hunting down the right candidate is a mission you shouldn’t take lightly.
To help you with this gargantuan feat, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to hiring an architect. In our guide, we’ll walk you through the steps one by one and include tips for identifying the architecture firm that will best suit your needs, tastes, and lifestyle. Read on to learn how to hire a residential architect, according to experienced architects.
Let’s start with the basics. Understanding this profession and the architect’s role in the design and build process is fundamental to choosing a suitable candidate.
In a nutshell, residential architects are the professionals behind residential buildings, including individual homes, apartments, and condominiums. Residential architects also restore and renovate existing properties.
When working for individual clients, residential architects design custom original designs for a home or remodel. They typically kick off the residential design process by meeting with the client to learn their vision, needs, and budget. From there, they create blueprints or plans of the proposed design.
In addition to the design of a home, residential architects are responsible for taking into account zoning laws, building codes, permitting, and safety issues. They also deal with functionality concerns like the placement of outlets, plumbing, and heating and cooling components.
Architects may see the project through to completion, visiting the construction site regularly and checking in with the build team to ensure everything is going smoothly.
After determining that you need to hire an architect, you may be eager to locate a professional so you can get the project started. To guide you through this journey, we’ve broken down the process of hiring a residential architect, step by step.
To hunt down the right architect, you need to do a little research. Here are four tried-and-true strategies for finding an architect:
Even the most experienced, highly-reviewed architect might not be the right fit for your project. Before reaching out to an architect or firm, take some time to review their portfolio closely. Look at recent projects to determine whether their work excites or inspires you and if you’d like to live in one of the buildings they’ve designed. Think about what style of home you’re hoping for and look for a professional with a history of projects that are comparable to your vision.
Once you have a few architects in mind, you can move on to the next stage: the interview. To prepare, it helps to come up with an outline of basic criteria for your project criteria for your project. This should include:
To help communicate your vision to your architect, gather photos of homes and architectural styles you like. Before the interview, you should write down a list of questions to ask your architect during the next step.
Reach out to the architecture firm to schedule a consultation in person or via Zoom. You should set aside at least two hours for the appointment. During the interview, be ready to be as straightforward as possible about your vision, budget, and timeframe. You’ll also want to ask your prospective architect plenty of questions, so come armed with a list.
Once you’ve interviewed a few candidates, you should check their references. When you reach out to their references, ask the following questions:
If possible, visit the sites of previous projects. Ask yourself if you like the style, as well as their choice of materials, the spatial layout, and the fixtures and fittings? Many of these decisions will be client-led, but seeing a completed project will give a sense of your architect’s work.
Price, experience, design style, and communication style are all different things you’re going to want to consider when evaluating your final candidates. In the end, it’s most important to find an architect whose previous work you admire, and one with whom you feel you can have a good working relationship.
Once you decide to work with an architect, it’s time to agree on a fee structure. To avoid any surprises, it’s imperative to understand their fee structure. Typically, your architecture firm will charge an hourly rate, a fixed fee, a percentage of the costs, or per square foot. In addition, some architectural firms will offer pre-determined packages based on square footage. This can be an appealing option if you want a thoughtful design without the price tag of highly specialized work.
Make sure you understand exactly what is included in your architect’s fees. Some architects only provide a basic plan for your project, while others offer a more comprehensive set of services. Ideally, you’ll want to find an architect who will see your project through from start to finish, acting as a planner, manager, and construction administrator, and assisting you in bid evaluation and selecting a contractor. You may also want an architect who can make suggestions to keep your project on time and budget in check.
Are you an Austin homeowner seeking to hire a residential architect for your new build or renovation project? We invite you to check out the Webber + Studio portfolio of recent projects to see if our design style inspires you and meshes with your vision. You can also get in touch with us to learn more about our architectural process and set up an interview.