Selecting the Right Architect and Designer for Your New Home Build
Now that you have made the first big decision for your new home build in selecting the lot, the next decision is choosing the right architect and designer to complete the design of your home. Similar when deciding on a home location, there are a lot of factors to consider when selecting an architect and designer.
The first step in choosing an architect is formulating a general plan and budget. This includes determining the style of home you want, the overall size of the home, how many bedrooms and bathrooms, and what features you want. Determine what your budget is going to be and a general idea of the time frame for the build.
Unless you have worked with an architect that you like in past, the next step is to put together a list of potential architects to meet and interview. Referrals from friends, family, co-workers, and industry professionals are a good place to start. If you have already selected an interior designer or general contractor, they should be able to provide you with a list of architects they have worked with in the past and would recommend. There are also several online resources available such as your local chapter of the American Institutes of Architects and social media platforms such as Houzz, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Additionally, some HOA communities have a list of approved architects for their respective subdivisions.
When you have a solid starting list, the next step is to set up a meeting with each of the architects. Treat this as an interview, making sure to ask numerous questions as you want to confirm they are a fit both in terms of qualifications and comfort. Ask to see their portfolio to review previous work, paying special attention to similar projects. If possible, speak to the architect’s previous clients for perspective on working with the architect. If you want a specific style of home, it will be important that the architect understands the style you are going for and has experience designing homes in that particular style. If the architect is part of a team or firm, understand the entire team and who exactly it is that you will be working with. It is also important to ask about their experience working with the municipality in which your home will be built. Having a working relationship and contacts with the municipality can save you time and money in getting plans submitted and approved with minimal resubmissions.
Besides qualifications, it is important to find an architect that you can be comfortable working with and will have effective communication. An architect will need to fully understand how you live, your likes and dislikes, etc. to design a home that fits your lifestyle.
Additionally, you will want to come away from a meeting with the understanding of the fee structure, ownership of the plans upon completion, and how involved the architect will be during the construction phase once plans have been finalized. Lastly, you will want to make sure the architect carries the proper insurance coverage.
Selecting a designer involves many of the same factors as for architects. The same process of interviewing several designers to find the right fit applies. Again, you want to make sure they understand your personal style and the style of home you want, look at their portfolio of previous work, and talk to previous clients.
In addition to understanding a designer’s fee structure, ask what additional services and benefits they can provide. For example, designers may be able to get discounts on products that your order through them. They may offer additional services such as identifying vendors, ordering products, coordinating deliveries, etc. Most designers will also work with you on your furniture layout and will assist with any furniture orders you may need. These additional services are important to understand when comparing fees of several designers.
Finally, it will be important that your designer is a good fit with the architect and general contractor that you choose. Having a solid design and build team with great communication can save you a number of headaches during the design and build of your home.