Resources: 10 Mistakes that Most People Make

Choosing the Right Architect The client-architect relationship is pretty personal, involving discussions on your tastes, your hobbies and habits, and even your most intimate relationships. Hence, you want your choice to be right the first time. The advice that follows will help you look into the character, design approach and communication skills of your candidates. In the end, you want to find the architect who best suits your situation, your preferences and your budget. Referrals Just like other professionals, architects get a good chunk of their business through the grapevine. Ask your relatives, friends and professional network for referrals. But don’t think you have to limit yourself within your community. In this generation of email and Skype, architects are known to work remotely on a project.
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An architect’s profile or website must provide complete information on their previous projects, as well as give you a vibe for the principles that govern their design practice. Sustainability? Blending into the neighborhood? Being bold? Ask other pros in a related field. For example, general contractors and interior designers can be good sources of architect referrals. A contractor and an architect who work well as a team is probably the most crucial ingredient of a successful project. The American Institute of Architects Professional organizations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) are also good providers of prospects. Architects vs. Designers As you look for design help, you may encounter people who refer to themselves as architects or designers. Certainly, there’s a difference. Licensed architects are degree holders from an accredited university or college, have thousands of intern hours under guidance of a licensed professional, and have passed a series of eight rigorous exams. On the other hand, designers are those whose experience may consist of a drafting class at a city college — or they may even hold a master’s in architecture from Harvard with decades of experience as a principal at one of the biggest firms in the country, except they didn’t get their license for some reason. Initial Consultation As soon as you’ve found a good prospect or two, interview them. This initial meeting must cost you zero, or look elsewhere. Ask as many questions as you think you need to. Can I check out some work samples? How do you intend to approach my project? How much must I pay you and how? How long to completion are we looking at, from design to building permits to construction? Obviously, there are more questions than that, but the above should start you off on the right foot. Budget No matter how much you plan to spend, be upfront from the get go. A great architect will give you a great design to fit your buck. Finally, a great architect might be a bit more expensive than your average one, but definitely, he’ll be worth it.