"Choosing a local architect"

Once you have a handful of names on your list, go visit websites and offices.  You will typically find out what projects those firms are most proud of by what is displayed.  Call their client references and ask if they would use the same architect again.


sculpture "Teamwork" by David Wynne, 1958
photo courtesy of dearbarbie
It is imperative that you and your architect are a team.  If there is any struggle in the relationship, it will all show in the project.  Remember that you hire an architect for their expertise: use it!  Don't spend time trying to DIY their job for them.  On the other hand, an architect should be a good listener to assure that the project is not just a good project, but YOUR home.  This client-architect relationship is, for most people, a one-time thing.  And it's often not an easy relationship.  
  • There are difficulties with language (contractual language, drawings and other construction documents, aesthetics, building-industry jargon).   
  • There are high emotions tied to a dreamed-of lifestyle/home.   
  • Most people spend more money on a home than anything in their lives.  And it's A LOT of money to most of us, but it's also a LIMITED amount of money.  There are strong feelings about how it is spent.
  • In a construction project, there are always surprises. Don't let them ruin your relationships with the blame game. Every member of the team should build in a contingency to make sure that the project doesn't run over.


Questions, questions, questions.
This building is at the corner of Henry & Main in Honor, Michigan.
photo courtesy of takomabibliot
You should be able to ask hard questions.  Your architect should be able to give you hard answers. You should ask lots and lots of questions, especially questions that may seem like stupid questions.  An architect can only guess what you don't know about being a first-time client... and even if you are back for your 100th architecturally-designed home, there will still be questions.  So don't be shy, ask away.

The Final Interview.

Time to get out the magnifying glass.
Image "Day 174" courtesy of Okko Pyykkö 
Interviewing your short list of architects is the final step.  By this time, of course, you have seen their work and talked to former clients.  You may have decided with your gut whom you like the best.  But go ahead and let your left brain follow through with this important process.
Transforming Architecture has a nice blog entry on what kinds of questions to ask at this point, so check them out.  The right answers to these questions should confirm your choice; the wrong answers could be deal-breakers.


Previously: HOW TO HIRE AN ARCHITECT: PART 1 "Finding Options for a Local Architect"

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