Working with an Architect

Hiring an Architect can Ensure the Custom Home of Your Dreams

By Mark J. Donovan

Hiring an architect to design your home is the best way to ensure a successful project that meets you home design goals, budget and timetable. Working with an architect is a collaborative effort between a professional home designer and yourself. If you hire the right architect to design your home you should save money in the end. This said, the costs of an architect can be upwards of 5 to 10% of the overall cost of the home, depending upon how complicated the design is and how much of his or her services you use. Many architects offer more than simply designing your home.

They can also provide project administration, contractor bidding and negotiating, and project oversight services.

When hiring an architect, make sure that they are members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Also carefully review their portfolio of completed projects to see if they have designed homes similar to your ideas and budget. In addition, spend time talking with him or her to confirm that you have a good rapport with them. An architect should be able to both visually and verbally communicate with you to give you a crystal clear picture of what your expected home shall look like when completed, how it will be constructed, and of what materials.

He or she should also be receptive and opened minded to your ideas. Avoid working with an architect that either ignores or is constantly dismissive of your ideas. You should be able to quickly ascertain if this is the case during your first couple of meetings. Even if it costs you a little money it is better to cut bait than to continue to work with an architect that you don’t see eye to eye with. Depending upon the amount of architectural services you plan to use, your time together with the architect can be extensive, so why hire someone you can’t get along with.

Also when hiring an architect check if they’ve designed homes in your town or city. This way you can get a sense if they have experience working with your local building authorities.

How to work with an architect to build your dream home.

Moreover, check their references and ask the architect if you could tour a couple of their completed homes to get a better sense of their design and architectural skills. Also, if you are planning to restore an old home make sure they have experience with renovating period homes.

There can often be significantly more municipal building code requirements for historic or period built homes.

When you visit an architect for the first time it is wise to bring along any concept design sketches you may have done, along with a list of key features, the building lot plans, and any pictures of homes similar to the one you want designed.

By bringing these items along, you can make your time with the architect much more productive in terms of evaluating him or her.

Home Addition Bid Sheets

Also, the clearer you are with the architect up front with your design goals, the more likely you’ll get the house plans you desire, and at a more affordable price.

For more help on building a new custom home, see’s New Home Construction Bid Sheet. The New Home Construction Bid Sheet provides you with the knowledge on how to plan a custom home building project, and what to look for when hiring contractors for your new home construction. It also includes a detailed cost breakdown table and spreadsheet for estimating your own new home construction building costs.

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