Hiring an architect can be exciting, but it can also be daunting. It’s exciting because it means the project that you’ve probably been thinking about, or even dreaming about, for a while is going to start to take shape. It’s daunting because you are probably well aware of how important it is to choose the right architect for your project.
Choosing an architect or architecture firm is something you should definitely not rush into. A good architect will go a long way toward ensuring that the design, approval, and building phases go smoothly. A great architect may even make the entire process enjoyable!
You should start your search for an architect in your area by getting referrals. Local general contractors are a great resource because they’ve likely worked with multiple architects and can give you the pros and cons of each of them from a professional perspective. People you know who have recently been through the design-build process can also be good referral sources, but most people will likely have only ever worked with one architect and won’t have anything to compare their experience with.
If you don’t know anyone personally who has worked with a local architect (or if no one you know would actually recommend their architect), you can turn to online reviews.
Once you’ve gathered a few names of architects or firms that come highly recommended, it’s time to start setting up some meetings. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you meet with architects to discuss your project:
Can I Communicate Well with Them?
Good communication is key to the success or failure of a project! You want to find an architect who will truly listen to your thoughts, ideas, and concerns and incorporate them into the plans they draw up for you.
While it’s true that architects are trained professionals who have knowledge and a perspective that is different from yours, they shouldn’t discount what you want or need. An architect who won’t even entertain your ideas is not one you want to work with. If what you want truly isn’t an option, due to code restrictions, budget limitations, or some other issue, a good architect will work with you to come up with a creative solution that accomplishes the same, or a similar, goal. At the very least, they will be able to come up with a reasonable compromise that you can still be happy with—even if it’s not what you initially envisioned.
Another part of good communication is keeping you in the loop as your project progresses. You shouldn’t always have to be the one calling or emailing your architect for information. They should provide you with regular updates, even if that update is, “We’re still waiting to hear back from the city on whether or not they need any changes to your plans. We’ll update you as soon as we do.”
Do They Have Experience with My Type of Project?
Not all architects are experts at every type of project. Some only do residential design, while others specialize in tenant improvement projects. Only a select few architecture firms can successfully complete massive new commercial projects.
If you are in the market for a tenant improvement architect, you should look for someone who has experience addressing things like space planning to improve workflow, accommodations for specialty equipment, and building code requirements for commercial spaces. You’ll also want an architect who can help you present your business in the way you envision. How your building looks says a lot about your company. Even if clients never enter your workplace, it will benefit your employees to work in a space that is well thought out, professional, and well equipped.
How Much of the Process Will They Handle?
As you interview prospective architects, you’ll also want to find out how much of the process they will take on. Some architects complete their drawings and then hand them off. Others take the drawings thorough the approval process. Still others will see the project through to completion—acting as a sort of project manager over your general contractor.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way for an architect to do things. You just need to know what to expect before you sign a contract. An architect who handles more of the project will likely charge more, but that extra service may be worth every penny to you.short url: