Hiring an architect may seem like a daunting task, but the process should be fairly simple. The first question people usually ask is, where do I start? In our opinion the best place to begin is to ask for referrals from friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, etc. - anyone whose opinion you value that has recently completed a construction project. Another good resource for referrals would be contractors, real estate agents, brokers, developers or anyone you may know in the construction industry that works with different architects. Even in this digital age when so much information is available online, there really is no better way of selecting an architect than by personal recommendations. Another good source is to look at professional organizations such as the local AIA (American Institute of Architects) chapter.
Professional organizations will undoubtedly have many different and qualified firms to choose from. With that in mind one might wonder what do I need to ask or what do I look for in prospective firms to narrow down the field? There are some things to keep in mind during your search.
I. Look at the architect’s experience with projects of a similar scope or type. Some of the best resources are listed below:
II. After investigating many architects you should narrow down your prospects to just a couple of your top contenders. These would be the ones you would probably meet with in person to discuss your needs and request a proposal. Below are a couple things to keep in mind when compiling your short list:
III. Another important aspect to consider is not business related or even technical in nature, but that the architect and the client should have a good rapport. Aside from the technical competence and creativity, you will be working closely with the architect that you select for some time so it is imperative that you and your architect’s personalities are well suited to one another. In our experience the most successful projects tend to be more collaborative in nature.
IV. One more thing to keep in mind is that you are the expert on your needs, not the architect. You are the one who ultimately understands how your project needs to function and/or look. When you combine your expertise about your needs with a creative and technically proficient architect, the sky is the limit. The most important thing your architect can do for you is to listen to what you need first, and only then can they come up with design suggestions to help satisfy your programmatic needs in a creative and evocative manner.
We always encourage people to do as much research as possible to make their decisions.