Hiring an Architect: The Basics

architect and customerWhen it comes to thinking about building a new home or renovating your current one, it marks the beginning of what can understandably be quite a stressful time. So many designs and ideas will cramp your mind as you try and figure out what you really want, however there is at least one way to take away some of this stress, and you can easily transform your vision into reality with the help of an Architect. If it’s your first time hiring an Architect, you may be wondering where to start. You can’t just hire the first person off the street who claims to be the best architect, there are few things that you need to factor in, so to that end you also need to ask the right kind of questions.

Do you Really Need an Architect?

If you are planning to build a new home from scratch, you definitely need to hire an architect, since this will likely turn into a very long project. Almost every type of building needs to have a viable design, complete with various construction documents and other essentials. A professional architect will spend all his/her time ensuring that your vision is realized, so to ensure you’re satisfied; it’s highly advised that you have an architect to consult with. On the other hand, if your project is more cosmetic in nature, for example you’re only planning to change details here and there such as new windows, or new flashings, it would probably be considered overkill to hire the services of an architect. In this case, between yourself and skilled tradespeople you can probably manage the project without the assistance of an architect.

How Much Will It Cost?

This is something you need to think about very carefully before you can settle on the architect you wish to hire. This will be determined by your project budget, the architect you hire, methods of billing and various other factors. There are different methods of billing, which will vary from one architectural firm to another. Most of the time, it will range between 15% and 25% of the total project cost. You may also be charged hourly or per square foot. It is vital that you look at all your options carefully so that you don’t end up going way over budget.

Which services Do You Require?

When it comes to renovation and building, there will be a number of key architectural services that you may or may not require depending on how much of the work you wish to take on yourself, these include: schematic design, contract documentation, construction administration, design development and bidding and negotiation. Additional services will really depend on you and your architect, so you can ask about which services are relevant to you during your preliminary discussions.

As you search for the perfect Architect, a good rule of thumb is to interview and get quotes from at least 5 different firms. Ask all the necessary questions that you have, so that you can settle on the best firm for the job. After all, just like hiring an interior designer, you’ll be working very closely with this person/organization for quite some time, so you need to be sure you’ve got a good working relationship from the get go.


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