What Are Good Questions To Ask An Architect
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The architectural design process is complicated, consisting of jumping through many hoops. When hiring an architect, you should attempt to stay on the same page - but what are good questions to ask an architect?
If you are looking at architecture firms currently, keep reading this article to ensure you hire the right architect for your job.
Bob Trimble is a chartered architect registered with RIBA with 30 years experience in the industry. Trimble Architects work throughout Hounslow, Twickenham, Richmond, Kingston Upon Thames, Teddington and the surrounding areas of London.
Hiring an architect
Collaborating with an architect for the design and construction process is not a legal requirement, but many people decide to work with them for their signature style and experience.
Keeping track of the design development, estimated timeline, the project's square footage and total project cost while remaining calm is challenging, but an architect takes some stress away from you and makes it a team effort.
Many homeowners are daunted by the overall budget and costs of an architect, and while different architects will charge differently, one with a good track record can save you money in the long run.
Many will act as project managers, working with your personal preferences on the schematic design.
While you can work with a contractor directly on some project changes, you are also paying for the experience and official qualification of the Royal Institute of British Architects you cannot get elsewhere.
All of this is crucial in understanding and navigating the challenges when construction starts, meaning you (as a client) will be heard and involved in all important issues while mitigating as many issues as possible.
As the design process work means hearing one another, and debating cost sustainable design strategies and drawings, here are some questions you should ask your architect.
Questions To Ask Yourself Before you begin your project:
The more you can explain your vision and answer all questions from architects, the closer the final build will be to your dreams. You are expected to talk on a regular basis with your architect, meaning you can build trust and open communication, perhaps working with the same person again in the future.
Although there are no wrong and right questions, one of the first things you should consider about the house and intended construction project is why?
What's missing from the space, and what features do you think will improve the site?
Architects are professionals, offering materials and design options you didn't consider, managing the project with cost estimating and creativity hand-in-hand. You may not be able to see the entire scope of the project, but talking in the beginning, will ensure all priorities about the space are laid out.
If there's a part of the room you don't like, be sure to mention this in detail and let them know how you'd like it changed. This is the best way to start a conversation with an architect.
How much are you willing to spend?
There will be fixed fees involved during all projects, but additional fees will appear if not managed during the building stage. When dealing with builders and contractors, you need a construction expert in the form of an architect to ensure all runs smoothly, and no surprise fees arise.
If you have no idea how much you are willing to spend on an idea, be sure to create a portfolio and discuss in length with your architect beforehand, developing all construction ideas to their reality.
What is your typical lifestyle? Do you commute to work? Are you a remote worker?
These factors are crucial to consider, often forgotten by clients and ignored by the designer. The project's scope must account for your priorities, how much time you spend at the property vs how much time you spend at the office, and how you use the space.
The best way to lead is to be open and honest with your architect, whether you have a full service, house extension, refurbishment or something smaller.
What kind of spaces do you need?
An understanding of your own life and the requirements you expect will help you complete the project efficiently. While you don't necessarily have to have all details planned out beforehand, architectural processes can be significantly improved when they know what room types you're looking for.
For example, do you require bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms, playrooms, offices or studies?
How many of these rooms?
Sometimes the best planning methods start from deciding and designing how many rooms you need and working from that basis.
Your architect, as principal designer, can work with your comments and visions, ensuring you have the best space management with the number of rooms required.
Questions To Ask Your Architect:
Once you have begun thinking about the project yourself, you should start asking the architect questions. Hiring an architect is a big decision, but it is a team effort, and you should be involved with the design, especially when it comes to personal preferences.
Do you have references?
There's nothing wrong with asking your architect about their past clients and their signature style because you should ensure you are working with the right architect for your job.
Their references from other clients and contractors will give you an idea of whether you want to work with the same person and if you are on the same page. Both your architect and yourself should agree to the construction process and schematic design, relying on them to guide you through.
How much time do I need to commit?
Many architecture firms have experience working with various clients and communication styles. One of their key considerations is how much time they can expect to be talking to you, and you are in complete power with that decision. Being upfront with your architect is the best way to communicate with them while being helpful with your answers.
If you would rather talk over the phone than meet in person, disclose that with them. How frequently you want to discuss the project with them and how hands-on you see yourself being are all helpful bits of information for the architect.
How can I be helpful?
If you are new to working with an architecture firm, you can ask about their plans and measures already in place for working with clients.
Addressing this early on can ensure both sides are happy with the level of communication and that you are fulfilling your duties as the client.
You must adhere to timelines, whether that's interacting with the local council, contractors or some other third party, and you can help the process by foreseeing these.
What's your fee structure?
If you work with a reputable architect, you can expect them to be upfront with the costs at the start of the process. While the administration and design amendment costs will catch most people out, ensure you ask about those in your first consultation. Optimising the process for the potential to add features a la carte will ensure no one is left behind.
What are the crucial issues?
Every construction project has unique considerations and challenges, which your architect hopefully has experience in. The required council approvals, planning permission and design challenges you may be racking your head over could be easily solved when discussed with the professionals.
What will you show along the way?
Understanding the architectural design process for your particular designer will relax you during the design process. When a project is signed off, it is much harder to make adjustments, so ask for drawings, computer animations, models or anything else along the way.
Your architect will have a particular way of showing their work, so ask how they prefer to do this. The project management ultimately falls to the architect, so you should do your best to understand their workflow and ensure you receive all the information you need as frequently as you need it.
Are you insured?
Understandably, you want to know if the architecture firm you are signing onto is insured and how far that insurance will take you.
You will be working with them for some length, so establishing now if they are insured will keep you legally safe during construction.
What's your role with the contractor?
Some architects will work with the contractor directly, ensuring the cost estimating doesn't get lost during the weeks of building.
Others will not, unless asked otherwise, but can recommend trustworthy contractors they have worked with multiple times. You will want to ask your architect if they intend to act as a project manager alongside the contractor and if this will affect project changes.
Who's on the team?
Different architects work differently, with some independent and others working for a firm. Be sure to ask about the team behind the scenes because you should get a feel for all team members working on the project.
You may never meet them, but you will prefer knowing who is handling the design decisions.
Can we reduce the environmental impact?
Many homeowners opt for green designs, implementing sustainable design options into the build. If you are interested in this, you should mention it as early as possible.
Architects can integrate many environmentally friendly alternatives for a lower price into the property.
If you are considering hiring an architect in 2022, be sure to consider all design options and be honest and open with them. Choosing the right architect for your project is as important as choosing the materials you desire.
Architects Near Me
If you are looking for architectural services throughout Hounslow, Twickenham and the greater London area, then get in contact with our team today. We can offer advice and begin guiding you towards making the right decision.
Bob Trimble is a chartered architect registered with RIBA. Bob Trimble has 30 years of experience working with residential and commercial property projects. For 4 years, Bob Trimble has worked from his housing association and private architectural practice for clients throughout Hounslow, Twickenham, Richmond, Kingston Upon Thames, Teddington and the surrounding areas of London.