Every home remodeling project is unique, whether you’re building an outdoor patio or designing a new kitchen. Hiring an architect is the first step towards completing a renovation that reflects your personal tastes and lifestyle. Of course, you want to be sure you’re working with the right person for the job. Before you jump into planning, take some time to seek out a great architect who will be able to nail down your design visions.
Here’s how in a few simple steps:
1. Ask for referrals
To find a reliable architect, start by talking to friends, family and business contacts who have worked with one in the past. For example, if your neighbor recently added a sunroom to their home, stop by to ask a few questions. They should be able to give you details on who their architect was and how they felt about the design process. Contractors and builders might also be able to lead you to a respectable architect. These professionals have worked with many architects in the past and might have a few names to pass along.
2. Visit the American Institute of Architects website
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has a chapter in every state. Visit the AIA website for your state or city and search for licensed architects who specialize in residential work. You can also go to the top of the AIA homepage and hit “Find an Architect”. You’ll be asked to list your city, state and type of project. The results will show architectural firms matching your description and you may find one that fits your needs.
3. Read the architect’s website
Architectural firms all have websites where you can read about their design philosophy. For example, some firms specialize in sustainable designs while others focus solely on ultra-modern projects. It’s important that the firm or architect you choose has similar ideals to your own. For example, if you want to renovate an old home, don’t hire a firm that has no experience with historic buildings. Architects can also practice outside of a firm and not all of them have a website. Check sites like LinkedIn to read their bio or find a portfolio.
4. Schedule a meeting
Once you have several firms or architects in mind to complete your project, contact them and schedule a meeting. They should bring their design portfolio to show you examples of their previous work. Think of this meeting as an interview where you’ll be doing the hiring. Ask questions to decide whether or not the firm or individual is right for you. Here are some ideas:
- How would you tackle this project?
- Based on what I’ve told you, what do you envision the project looking like?
- What do you charge?
- How long do you estimate the project will take?
- What obstacles do you see in my idea?
The architect should be honest and upfront with his or her answers. Expect to hear changes to your idea because an architect may have spotted issues that cannot be fixed. Also, this is the time to talk about your budget. Only part of the money you spend will go to the architect and he or she might be able to estimate the cost of building the design. For example, you may picture your three-season room with extravagant rafters, but if your budget doesn’t allow for it the architect may suggest cheaper alternatives.