So you want to hire an architect to design a major project for you. Before meeting your architect for the first time, or having the first serious conversation about the task at hand, it’s important to have a number of questions prepared that can get to the heart of your future work together. Here are four questions that are sure to make your first meeting an engaging and productive one.
1. How will you represent the design of the project to me?
Most architects have a method of representing their buildings that they strongly believe in, and some of these might be confusing to the uninitiated. The most common representational tools include drawings, models, and physical models. In the earliest phase of design (called schematic design), you might be presented with all of the above at once, and it can be hard to piece them together when it’s a new project. You should let your architect know which medium you’d prefer to see your project developed in; he or she is likely to oblige.
2. Do you have experience with the building type and size of my project?
If you want to build a single-story home with your architect but can only find designs for office buildings and auditoria on his/her website, you may have an issue. Or maybe not. Architects are trained to work on a wide scale of building types, but they often purposefully develop a portfolio that focuses on one type of project. It may or may not affect your confidence in their ability to see your project through – with little exposure – so make sure you are comfortable with their experience before proceeding.
3. What do you expect me to provide?
You’ll rightfully expect your architect to do the majority of the work on your building project, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be totally out of the loop. Some architects want their clients to be more involved in the design process while others would prefer you to keep your distance for as long as possible. When asking this crucial question, make it clear what level of involvement you’d like to have in the project as well. Involvement for a client might include occasional meetings, where you can bring images, books, articles, and other information to drive the project along.
4. If sustainable design technologies are implemented, do upfront costs exist that may affect the construction budget?
Your architect is likely up to date on the latest information about sustainable materials and resources, and you should ask him or her how their implementation might positively or negatively affect your project. If sustainability is a concern for you, you should learn what level of experience your architect has with this issue, as well as an estimate of the payback time for the addition of solar panels and other sustainable power sources.