A step-by-step guide to finding and hiring the best architect for your Austin home build or renovation.


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. 


What does a residential architect do? 

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. 


How to hire an architect, step by step

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.


Step 1: Do a little homework 

To hunt down the right architect, you need to do a little research. Here are four tried-and-true strategies for finding an architect: 

  • Ask for word-of-mouth recommendations. Start by asking your friends and family for recommendations, which is usually one of the best strategies for finding a reliable professional architect. Try to cast as wide a net as possible, reaching out to your neighbors, realtors, and other community members for referrals.  
  • Search online. For more leads, you can also perform an online search for architects in Austin. Check out sites like HomeAdvisor or Houzz, which let you search for architects by zip code and filter your searches by certain criteria. 
  • Search the database of your local AIA chapter. Another great resource for finding qualified architects is the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Many cities and states—including Austin—run local AIA chapters featuring search engines. The Austin AIA Find an Architect tool lets you search the database for sole practitioners and firms specializing in different areas of work, such as design-build, interiors, and residential single-family homes. 
  • Mine architectural publications and blogs. If you’re willing to put in a little more legwork, you can search home design magazines for architect leads. These publications and their websites often showcase the work of architects and include descriptions of their architectural approach as well as their contact information.

Step 2: Review their portfolio 

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. 

Step 3: Prepare for an interview 

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:

  • The size, appearance, and function of your project
  • The services you expect your architect to provide
  • Your proposed timeline
  • Your proposed total budget 

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. 

Step 4: Conduct an interview 

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. 

Here are some essential questions to ask your architect during an interview

  • How many years have you been in business? 
  • What are your qualifications? 
  • Can you provide references? 
  • What is your design philosophy and mission? 
  • How are you unique from other architects
  • How many people are employed by your firm? 
  • What are the steps in your process?
  • What services do you provide during design, bidding, and construction phases? 
  • Which services are included, and which are extra? 
  • How long will the total process take?
  • How will you present your plans?  
  • How much of my input and time will be required and when? 
  • Do you anticipate any problems with my project? 
  • Who else will be working on the project? 
  • How can I, as the client/owner, enable you to do the best piece of architecture you have yet done?
  • What is your schedule like?
  • What are your communication preferences? 
  • How will we handle any disputes that arise between us? 
  • Can you give me an estimate of what this project will cost? 

Step 5: Make the final decision 

Once you’ve interviewed a few candidates, you should check their references. When you reach out to their references, ask the following questions: 

  • Would you work with this architect again? Why or why not? 
  • Did the architect comply with your agreed-upon timeline and budget? 
  • Did the architect listen to your concerns and try to solve them? 
  • What issues came up during the project? How were they handled? 
  • Did the architect have a productive relationship with the build team and others involved in the project?
  • Did the architect communicate with you regularly with updates on your project? 

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. 

Step 6: Agree on a fee structure

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.