Without any background research, searching for the right architect may feel like a shot in the dark so let’s switch the light on by providing you with the best tips to help narrow your search. Finding an experienced architect that is right for you is tricky business since there are a number of factors that you have to consider. The reality is that you as the client are susceptible to making a number of different errors by overlooking the many pitfalls of choosing an architect. Outlined below are a few pointers to get you started on your search.
Overview Of How To Find An Architect
Creating an Architect Shortlist
The first part of the process is to try and create a shortlist that will help narrow your search. Whether you are looking for someone to help design a two-storey extension to your home, or if you’re looking for a house to be built from scratch, you need to pick out the experts in the field.
- Ask friends and family. Are you going to trust a recommendation from a friend or family over a review online? The vast majority of us tend to lean towards what people close to us have to say about products and services. So go on ahead, ask around your group of friends and family members to see if they have had an architect that has brought them the desired results.
- Online Research. To supplement the feedback given to you from friends and family, make sure you have a browse of the architects online. An excellent website to visit is www.ribafind.org/dom.asp. This is the main search engine of the Royal Institute of British Architects that will help to pick out the architect ideal for you based on your location and budget.
- Assessing your Architect Shortlist At this point, you should have a shortlist of around five architects. The next step is to pick and probe to see which one is the best fit for you. Remember that it is not just simply the job of the architect to design, but to also guide you through the build process. To help identify the right architect, make sure you to ask the following questions below:
- Are they able to project manage? Although a fundamental quality that every architect is valued for is their ability to encapsulate your vision and help tweak it with their design, this is only half the job. Look for an architect that has proven experience of being able to manage and successfully execute their projects by current practice. Always ask for their portfolio and examples of their most recent work.
- Is your architect realistic? The truth is that architects are an enthusiastic bunch, and they have to be. It may difficult for you to assess what is realistic and what is not, but a good method would be to tell your plan to a few different architects and take it from there.
- Do they pay attention to detail? Building anything from scratch requires a lot of careful consideration and co-ordination. Be straightup with your architect. Try to tell them exactly what you want since a lack of detail on your part may result in them trying to find a quick fix on the site which will come back to bite you later. Generally, the rule is, the more complex a design is, the more expensive it is going to be. Peeking into their portfolio might give you an idea if they have this attention to detail, as well as assessing what they have to say to you.
- Is your architect good at time-scaling? Building a house is a team effort. There is a whole whirlwind of logistics and legislation and your architect will need to have everything in control with building permission, tenders, choosing the right contractors, design and construction being only a handful of the factors that they are responsible for. Therefore, being good at time-scaling is essential. Most architects should be competent at this but keep an eye out for the ones that aren’t.
- How much experience do they have under their belt? An architect ages like a fine wine and so they tend to start excelling in their trade in their 40s after years of trial and error. Age over youth. Remember that hiring a young architect makes you one of their first clients and so what mistakes they learn not to make in the future may come at your expense.
Still can’t decide on an architect?
Quite often in whatever we are searching for, our search will narrow down to a small handful. Choosing the wrong architect is a costly mistake since there is a lot of money on the line and so at this point it comes down to the fine details. Use these pointers to help separate the best from the rest:
Ask for references.
A good architect will have numerous references that they will hand over to you without hesitation. Ask important questions regarding:
- How effective they were at managing a budget,
- How responsive they were to changes,
- Whether they listened to and took in clients’ ideas.
Choose architects that have experience in the type of property you are interested in.
Hiring an experienced architect doesn’t mean that this person is going to be right for the job. Say you’re interested in making a two-storey Victorian-styled extension, you don’t want to have an architect whose portfolio only boasts modern architecture.
Meet with each architect to discuss your ideas.
Most architects offer a free consultation service and so this is an excellent opportunity for you to assess if they are the right fit since a good architect will offer some valuable ideas to complement your vision. Meeting who you have on your shortlist may provide that gut feeling that will help to influence your decision.