Architect Questions: What to Ask Before You Start

Architect Questions: What to Ask Before You Start

Designing and building your new home or even making changes to your old one is an exciting and intimidating experience, especially for homeowners with little or no property development experience.

It is highly expensive to design and build your dream home or a business project. However, the end result will have a massive impact on the happiness and well-being of you and your loved ones.

Hiring an architect is not a legal requirement; you can complete your development projects without one.  However, hiring an architect will help you save a lot of money in the long run by limiting the possibility of making many costly mistakes.

An architect can help you turn your architectural dreams into reality. From translating your needs and desires into a unique design to securing planning permission, finding a reliable builder,  and monitoring progress on-site, a good architect can do each of them perfectly.

Choosing an architect for your project is not a decision to take lightly. The person you select will be the brains behind your project, a great problem solver, a good listener, and one responsible for keeping everything within your budget. Therefore, asking the right questions at your first meeting with them is essential for choosing the right candidate.

 

8 Best Questions to ask your architect before starting a project

The best architect will ask you plenty of questions because they want to understand your needs and desires as fully as possible, but the questions you ask in the end will probably make or break the project. Some of the best questions you can use as a starting point to choose the right candidate for your building project are:

 

Do you have a list of past clients, references, or testimonials?

Even if the architect is a design genius, it does not mean they are easy to work with. On the contrary, quite often, they are difficult to collaborate with. Many people have had bad experiences with their architects because they were unwilling to cooperate or value their needs and desires.

Although it is essential that you love the work and design philosophy of the architect that you are going to choose for your project, the completed building or project will only tell the half story.

So, it is important to start by asking your potential architect to provide a list of his past clients, references, or customer testimonials. You will then need to contact the references to know about their experience with the architect. For example, ask past clients how easy it was to work with the architect, how well the building project was designed, and whether the architect sticks to the budget throughout the process?

It is worth taking some time out of your busy routine and contacting the references as they will be able to give you a master class based on their experience alone.

 

Do you have a signature style?

Another critical question you need to ask your architect before getting them on board for your project is about their design style. Most architects pride themselves on their adaptability as it allows them to tailor their design style to fit each project and client.

However, some architects may have an overriding design sensibility that they use in every other project. By talking about the architect’s signature style in an initial meeting, you can decide whether it is suitable for your project or not.

 

What is the estimated timeline for the project?

With the hot market of today, it is essential to set a realistic timeline for architecture and construction so that your project can run smoothly without any interruptions. In your initial meeting with your architect, find out when they are available to start working on your project and how much time they will take to complete it.

 

How much will you charge?

Architectural fee structures can be quite confusing at times. So it is essential to understand your architect’s fee structure before hiring them for your project. It is always better to avoid an architect who is not transparent about their fee structure.

An architect’s fee depends on the complexity of the projects and the services they render throughout the project’s construction process. Some will charge you a fixed amount at the beginning, others at an hourly or daily rate, or some as a percentage of the total project cost.

 

What are the things included and not included in your fees?

Different architects offer different services, so it is important to understand what services are included in your contract. Communicate your budget and key requirements clearly at the beginning to avoid any inconvenience in the future.

Selecting what services you want to be included in your contract is your personal choice which involves looking at your budget, project scope, and desired participation level of the architect, among many other considerations.

 

Will you stay involved during the construction process of the project?

Another critical question you need to ask your architect is about their level of involvement during the project’s construction process. Your architect will have varying degrees of involvement depending on your project needs while your project is being built.

Some projects only require an architect’s involvement during the design phase. However, some may require architectural services throughout the construction process. Therefore, it is better to have the conversation upfront so that the expectations are clearly defined at the beginning of the project.

 

What builders or contractors can you recommend for the project?

Architects have established good relationships with many professional builders. So, if you are searching for a builder for your project, an architect’s recommendation can help you narrow down your search.

An architect may have worked closely with a particular builder and be familiar with all their weaknesses and strengths, so allow them to recommend any professional builder based on the needs of your project.

 

How will you help in obtaining planning permission for the project?

An architect will be the right person to advise you on whether your project requires planning permission or not. Suppose your project requires planning permission. An architect will help you obtain it quickly. In addition, an architect will have a good understanding of your local planning authority’s policies.

So, it is worth asking them how they will handle the process of acquiring planning permission for your project, how much experience they have in dealing with the local planning authority, and what their success rate is.

 

Conclusion:

From translating your ideas into a unique design to securing planning permission, recommending a builder, and monitoring progress on site, architects are undoubtedly invaluable assets to any building project. They will help you keep the entire construction process within your budget.  You should take the hiring of an architect as seriously as the building of your dream home or any other project. To get the right candidate on board for your project, it is necessary to ask the right questions in the initial meeting. Ask as many questions as possible because the architect will be the brains behind your project. So, choose the right horse for the right course to avoid getting disappointed in the end. Good communication with your architect is the key to your dream project’s smooth, stress-free, and on-budget construction process and now with these Architect Questions, you should be well equipped.