How to Choose an Architect
As a practising architect, I had seen clients struggling to discuss their project with an architect. So how do you find the right architect for your vision and your budget?
First & foremost it is important to understand that each architect has a design personality or a signature style. They bring a characteristic overriding design sensibility to every project and therefore it’s really important for both to judge in the early stages whether you can work with the architect’s style.
Find an Architect
Ask friends for recommendations or research online. Go through architect’s portfolio on their websites to get an idea of their expertise and design approach. Other effective means is to refer online and print magazines to know of architects work philosophy and repute.Open communication and understanding each other’s personalities are the bedrock of a mutually fruitful client-architect relationship.
Qualifications of an Architect
In India, if someone is not registered with The Council of Architecture (COA) they can’t call themselves an architect. If there is a particular aspect like Green rating, landscaping or interior design that you want to emphasize in your project, look for an architectural firm that specializes in that domain. E.g. a LEED or IGBC certification, Masters in Landscape Architecture or Interior Design.
Be wary of firms who either offer a cookie-cutter approach or prioritize their signature style. Most architects adapt to client’s needs and tailor their style to fit each new site and lifestyle needs and add richness with their design expertise.
Diversified Service Areas
Architects do more than just design. They manage the project, make design adjustments, check the contractor’s work as well as review invoices as the work progresses. Ask your architect if he can provide other services like – help you hire a contractor, provide project management, engineering services and obtain necessary and secondary project clearances & approvals.
Fees & Charges
Architects usually charge a percentage of the total project cost rangingbetween 5% to 20% depending on the services provided, the complexity of the job and the renown of the architect. Most architects would take a fixed initial amount before givingpreliminary design sketches/drawings or beginning the work.
Ask Your Architect
1. What is your vision for the project
2. Can you give creative solution within my budget
3. What will be the challenges
4. Can you provide reference of a similar project designed by you
5. What will be the timeline of completing the project
6. What services you provide and what they cost
7. How do you charge and the billing cycle
8. Who will design my project and the point of communication
9. Can you provide 3-Dimensional images of the project
10. Can you recommend reliable contractors and help evaluate portfolios and bids
After Hiring an Architect
When you decide to build a new home, your best friend and confidante on this journey will be your architect.
• Go with an open mind and have an elaborate first meeting to judge whether you could work with your architect and vice versa.
• Sometimes there is disconnect between a client’s budget and brief, so early in the process clarify the scope of the project so that the architect can give a realistic estimate of what is achievable.
• An independent architectnot compromised by association with other components of the design & build process will act as your advocate when dealing with contractors.
Choosing an architect is a creative process in itself. An architect is trained not just in design but also in construction and management. Having an architect from the initial design concept stage to construction and right up until you move in will give you the best result.