Finding the Right Architect The client-architect relationship is rather delicate, involving meetings about your habits and hobbies, your preferences, and even your most private relationships. That’s why you want the choice to be right the first time. The tips that follow will help you check the personality, design principles and communication skills of your prospects. Eventually, you want to find the architect who’s best for your situation, budget and preferences. Referrals Like many other professionals, architects get a good portion of their business by word of mouth. Ask your relatives, friends and professional network for referrals. But don’t feel restricted to 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? A neighborhood fit? Making a bold statement? Talk to professionals in a related field. General contractors and interior designers, for example, can be good resources for finding the a good architect. A contractor and an architect who work perfectly as a team is probably the single most important requirement of a successful project. The American Institute of Architects The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and other organizations also make good sources of prospects. Architects vs. Designers When you search for design help, you may meet people who bill themselves as architects or designers. Here’s the 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. Designers are those whose experience may include a drafting class at a city college — or they might actually hold a master’s in architecture from Harvard and have more than three decades 35 years of experience as a principal at a high-profile architectural firm, except they didn’t get their license for whatever reason. Initial Consultation The moment you’ve found one good prospect or two, it’s time to interview them. The initial consultation must cost you nothing, or find another prospect. Ask a lot of questions. Can I take a look at some examples of your work? How do you intend to approach my project? How much do I pay you and how? How long will it take to finish this project, including design, permits and construction? Clearly, there are more questions to ask, but the above can be your starting point. Budget Regardless of your budget size, be upfront from the very beginning. A great architect will be able to come up with a great design that matches your buck. Finally, a great architect may also cost you more than an average one, but he’s usually worth it.

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