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Essential Questions To Ask Before Hiring An Architect

architects at workAre you looking to hire an architect? Whether it’s to build a new home or business, or remodel an existing one, it’s an important decision. The right architect can make all the difference for how good the finished project comes out. Hudson Design, an architectural design firm in New York states that if you want to make the right call when hiring an architect, there are some questions you should ask first.

1. What Do I want Out of This Project?

There’s a great quote by the Cheshire Cat that goes like so, “If you don’t know where you want to get to, it doesn’t matter which road you take.” In other words, you need to decide what you want to accomplish before you set out to do anything. You can’t hire the right architect if you don’t know what you want to do.

Before you begin even looking for people to hire, you should decide what it is you want. Make a wish list of everything you’d like to see after the project is finished. Keep in mind, a wish list isn’t final until the home is finished. There may be things you want that you can’t get for one reason or another. Make sure you mark out which items on that wish list are most essential, which ones you’d really like, and which ones you can do without if you have to. That way, when it comes time to finalize the design and decisions have to be made, you know what to drop from the project first.

2. What’s Your Budget?

Building a house is expensive. According to Home Advisor, the typical cost range of building a new home in 2020 is $166,000 to $483,000. That’s a pretty broad range, all told. If you don’t know what your actual budget is, you can end up getting a home design that will run far more expensive than you expected.

As an example, a property my family purchased has a house where this happened. They didn’t properly plan their budget and started building right away. They ran out of money just after finishing the basement and were forced to just put a roof on it and call it good in order to have a place to live. They intended to expand on it, but their careless budgeting meant they had to sell the land to pay off debts, leaving us with an apartment that’s nothing more than a basement with a roof and front door.

If you want to avoid ending up in the same situation, the best thing to do is plan out your budget in advance. Work out how much you can afford to spend. You want it in a range from how much you want to spend, to how much you are willing to spend over that if things go wrong. With this budget in mind, a good architect can design a plan that shouldn’t go over budget.

building plans3. Can The Architect Do The Job?

When it comes to hiring an architect, never take the first one you find. This is about more than just checking reviews (although you definitely should), but about learning what the architect has done in the past. What kind of buildings to they design? Does their style fit with what you want? What references can they provide? When you meet them, ask them what they think the biggest challenge of the project will be. What is their fee structure? All these are things you need to ask if you want to find out if the architect in question can do the job. If they can’t do the job, there’s no point in hiring them.

4. Do I Have All The Info I Need About My Property?

When you have your first meeting with the architect, you’ll want to be sure that you have all the materials and documents you need. You should be sure that you have the following:

  • Building department records
  • Floor plans
  • Land surveys
  • Photographs of the land

These materials will help you have the most productive conversation possible. If you have them all, the architect should be able to give you a good idea of the specific needs of the job. It will help you get a better cost estimate and keep the conversation focused on realistic design solutions.

5. How Much Do Aesthetics Matter?

Good design is a balance between functionality and aesthetic appeal. A completely functional design will do the job, but it’s not much fun to live in. On the other hand, too much emphasis on aesthetics can make the project much more expensive. You need to be clear about your expectations with the architect from the word go. It’s critical to both staying in budget and building a home you’ll want to live in.

6. Do I Really Need An Architect?

Not every job requires an architect. An architect is someone who will draw up designs and plans based around your wants and needs within the demands of the budget. It’s a very specialized job and it’s not always needed. This is especially true for planning minor remodeling projects on tight budgets. General contractors will often have the skills needed to do the same work as an architect for smaller remodeling jobs, so hiring a full architect would just be an expense you don’t need. It all depends on the scope of the job.

Hiring An Architect For Your Dream Home

architect drawing up plans
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij

When it comes to building the home you’ve always wanted, an architect is the first step. The right architect will be able to design the perfect plan based on what you want and what you can afford. They’ll work with you to find the right balance of function and aesthetics that gives you more than just a place to live, but a place to call home. If you want to be sure you hire the right architect for the job, make sure you have asked yourself all of these questions and gathered everything you need. Having all the information ready when you first meet your architect can make a huge difference when it comes to saving time and money. Come prepared to your first meeting and you’ll be living in your dream home in no time flat!