How to Hire an Architect

When you imagine your perfect home or office, do you think simply about functionality, or do you imagine the different ways in which you can enhance your quality of life and produce the most aesthetically appealing result? An architect is trained not only in creating structures conducive to utility, but also rooms in which the owners will fee secure, comfortable and proud.

Hiring an architect should be based on several different factors. You should have a certain amount of chemistry with your architect as he or she will have to understand your specific vision for construction. An architect is necessary for building new structures and/or rennovating existing ones.

Here are a few things to think about when hiring the perfect architect:

1. Visit the American Institute of Architects’ website to learn more about the process of hiring an architect. This website gives lots of information, from fee schedules to specific areas of the country to negotiations.

2. If you’ve already started a project and are having trouble with the finer points of structure, consider hiring an architect. Architects are not only helpful for raising new buildings, but also for reconstructing older ones. An architect can help you with lay-out, design, materials and the foundation, and can more thoroughly answer your questions about construction.

3. Find someone who has used an architect in the past and inquire about their experience. One of the most effective ways to find an architect is to talk with previous clients and to determine whether or not they got what they asked for. Choosing an architect out of the phone book may result in your dissatisfaction; referrals let you know that others have been satisfied.

4. Consult with your contractor to find out if they have an architect on staff. When building a new and custom home, you’ll want to find the best architect possible. If your contractor has one on staff, he or she is probably experienced and can give you the best price for the services required.

5. Talk with several architects. Your home or office is a very important matter, and you don’t want to go with the first person you talk to. Interview a few likely candidates and discuss experience, education and awards. Ask for a list of at least three references, and call those people to inquire about their experiences. Further, you can determine during the interview whether you and the architect have similar styles and visions. If the architect is unable to align with your end goal, then you’re better off going with someone else.

6. Share your basic ideas with the architects on your list before choosing one. Ask them what they think about your ideas, and if the plan of action is plausible. Architects will be more educated on building codes and other requirements than you are, and can give you a best-guess estimate on how the project will progress.

7. Collect pictures from magazines and trade journals that essentially mirror what you are looking for. This will help the architect give you a more accurate estimate, and should tell him right away if he can take on your job.

8. Inquire about the payment schedule. Different architects have varying payment plans, though most require a retainer before work begins. Find out if you will by charged by the hour and for materials; a percentage of the construction costs; or as a fixed quote delivered before work begins. Will you be charged extra if the scope of the project changes? Will costs be incurred if the price of materials increases?

9. Ask to see the architect’s contract before you select one to begin. In most states, the law requires that the contract contain the payment schedule, the work schedule, the scope of the projects and the necessary materials. If you are at all concerned about any clause in the contract, have an attorney look over it for you. It’s much better to pay lawyer fees in the beginning than to find yourself stuck in a contract with unreasonable expectations that you didn’t understand.

10. Inquire as to when the architect will be able to begin the job. In many cases, architects have waiting lists that might leave you on hold for several months. If your project requires urgent attention, go with an architect who can start right away, and who can devote as much time as possible to finishing the job.

11. As if the architect as done other work that is similar to the project you have posed.

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