Part 3 of our ‘Hiring an Architect’ series provides questions you as a client should ask the architect you’re interviewing for your project. The previous posts discussed how to go about finding and Hiring an Architect: Part 1- The Search and questions you as a client should ask yourself prior to meeting with an architect, Hiring an Architect: Part 2- Q&A Yourself. If you’ve been reading along you may be thinking, “Wow, even more things to consider?” Yes, yes there are. However, this is why you’re hiring an architect. Your architect is there to guide you through the process and make, and help you make, the myriad of decisions that factor into creating a house you want, one that fits you and your needs.
After discussing your questions/ answers from Part 2 with the architect, it’s now your turn to ask questions of the architect. To get you started, below are some questions to ask. While not meant as all-encompassing, they do serve well to get your discussions started. Feel free to add your own as you see fit:
1. What are the primary issues or challenges in our project?
2. How will the architect decide what we need?
3. Do you have experience with projects similar to ours?
4. What is the architects’ design beliefs/philosophy?
5. Can the architect take on our project with their current workload?
6. How will the architect explain the process as the project proceeds- virtual models, physical models, sketches, drawings, etc.
7. Who will be our point of contact at the architect’s office? Will they also be designing our project? If not, who will be designing our project? Will there be at least one architect involved throughout the entirety of our project- you want the answer to be ‘Yes’
8. How is the design process organized? The typical design/construction process is as follows:
a. Programming– deciding what to build
b. Schematic Design– initial sketches and ideas
c. Design Development– refining the design
d. Construction Documents- finalizing the working documents – (future post)
e. Construction Administration– construction phase of your project
9. How will you establish the fees for our project?
a. Percentage of construction cost
b. Hourly fee
c. Fixed fee
d. Hybrid of hourly and fixed fee
10. What do the architect’s fees cover? What would constitute additional fees and how would those be justified?
11. What is the architects experience with construction cost estimating?
12. Will a preliminary budget be provided by a contractor?
13. If the initial design is over budget, what will the architect do to rectify?
14. Do you have a consultant to provide the structural engineering? Is that included in your fees?
15. If we wish the services of an interior designer, do you employ an interior designer or can you recommend and coordinate with one?
16. Will the architect assist with contractor selection?
17. Do you recommend bidding the project or negotiating a fee?
18. What is the anticipated design/documentation schedule?
19. What is the expected construction schedule?
20. What is your involvement during construction? You want the architect involved, for additional information read Construction Administration.
21. At what points in the process will we meet and discuss/ provide feedback?
With these questions answered, you should start to get a better sense of whether or not the architect is a good fit for you and your project. It is important to note that the construction process is inherently complicated. There will almost always be questions, unforeseen circumstances, etc. The ability of you and your architect to work through these events as a collaborative team will have a significant effect not only on the final product, but also on your level of stress throughout. You need to trust your architect. You need to be comfortable in talking with them. You do need to like your architect. You need to have confidence in their integrity and skill set as an architect.
What questions have you asked as a client? As an architect, what has been asked of you?
Go find yourself an architect, it will be worth it!
** I can send head-shots if you want to paste me in as your architect.