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Selecting an Architect

Starting a home renovation project can be daunting.  For most people the first step is to select an architect, which can be an equally intimidating process.  Consider asking the following questions when interviewing an architect:

A.   Design Vision

1.    What are your initial thoughts about our design goals?  What is your design philosophy with respect to my project type?  What do you see as the important issues on my project?

2.    How flexible are you in your design method or architectural style?  To what extent does my own vision for my home factor into the design process?

3.    What about my project is interesting to you?  How does my project compare to your typical project size?  What about my project concerns you?

4.    What is your philosophy regarding sustainable design and construction practices?  How might that be manifest in my project?

B.   Design Process

1.    How does your firm approach a project?  What are the steps in the design process?

2.    What media or formats will you use to explain the design to me (sketches, renderings, digital models, physical models)?  At what points in the process will I be able to comment on the design?

3.    What level of information do you typically provide in your construction documents?

4.    Are you flexible about the materials and suppliers you recommend / specify?

C.   Bidding and Construction

1.    What is your approach to project cost management?  What is your experience / track record with project cost estimating?  How will you work with us to keep the project under budget?

2.    Do you have builders you can recommend, or will I need to find a builder on my own?  Are you flexible in the builder selection or willing to work with a builder you don’t know?

3.    What is your role during construction?  What flexibility is there in your involvement during construction?

4.    How long should construction take?  Will I need to move out of the house?

D.   Experience

1.    How long has your firm been in business?  How long have you been with the firm?  Are you a licensed architect?  How long have you been an architect?

2.    What is your experience with my project type?  My location / jurisdiction?  The style or character of my home?  The materials I prefer to use?  Sustainable design practices?

3.    Who at the firm would be running my project specifically?  Will that person be doing the design work?  Who can I contact when he or she is away, on another deadline, or unavailable?

4.    Can you provide a list of references, specific to the person who will run my project?  Can you provide a list of addresses of nearby projects, designed specifically by the person who will design my project?

E.   Practicals

1.    How do you calculate your fees for a project?  What would the fees be for my project?  How are  fees calculated for additional services?  What flexibility do we have in the level of your services?

2.    Is the firm insured?  How many licensed architects are on staff?  Will a licensed architect run my project?

3.    How busy is the firm?  When will you be able to start, and how will other deadlines impact the progress on my project?  How long will the process take?

4.      What does your firm offer that I might not find from another firm?

– Shawn Buelher, Principal

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