These Questions Can Help You Find the Right Architect
Find the best person who can help you achieve your dream home
If you want to achieve your dream home, it is highly crucial to find the right people to help you. An architect is one of the key people you need, because this can spell the difference between a terrible experience and the home of your dreams. Let these questions help you find the one:
1. What are the services you can provide?
Ask the architect what services he or she is able to deliver, and how much time he or she thinks the job will take. If you intend to meet with him or her often, you should express this, because there are instances when expectations occur in the clients and they think, “Once I hire the architect, he or she is at my beck and call. I can meet with him or her four to five times a week”—even if the house they are doing is not actually that big. There needs to be a balanced level of expectation, and the extent of the deliverables should be clear to both parties, not only in terms of drawings, but also how much time you expect from the architect. Ask him or her whether he or she is willing to give those services. If not, he or she should say so.
2. How much will you charge for it?
In relation to the first question, the cost of the project must also be discussed. How much is the architect expecting to receive as payment for that amount of effort? There are common situations when the client would ask for the architect’s rates, then he or she would give a certain amount, to which the client would respond with, “Ang taas naman,” further adding, “If you’re going to charge me this fee, this is what I expect.” A possible offer from the architect can be: “I can do it for a lower fee, but don’t expect me to be there 24/7.” When it comes to negotiating with your architect, it’s give and take. If the project is a 100sqm house and you demand more time from the architect, then expect him or her to charge higher. From the beginning, it has to be clear what the extent of the work is.
3. How will you present your design?
An architect communicates using plans, drawings, and perspectives. If you feel that you do not understand the floor plans of the house, or if you are having a difficult time visualizing the space from looking at the plan, you should ask the architect: “Is there any way that you can show me how big these spaces are? Can you make a model?” Again, this is something that should be stated up front, because there are cost implications to all of those as well. Ask the architect if there are other ways for him or her to depict the space so that it is easier for you to understand and evaluate. You can try to ask for a 3D simulation of the plan, which is more exact but also more expensive, or for a small-scale cardboard model.
4. What happens if I change my mind?
There has to be something agreed upon up front in relation to any possible changes during design and construction. You should be able to assess whether you’re the type of client who changes their mind often or not. If you expect to have a lot of changes, communicate that to the architect ahead of time and see how he or she reacts to it. There are some architects who might say, “I can work with you on the design, as long as we have a specific set of benchmarks and hold points where you make a decision. If modifications are made, this is how much I will you—that is the system that we will agree upon.” In terms of scope and contractual obligations, this matter is very important.
RL Tip: Trust your architect
For some clients, consulting an architect is almost like consulting a doctor: When they don’t like what they hear, they rush to find a second or third opinion. That’s probably normal, but it would be best not to let that third opinion segue into many more—there is no time nor room for that. The best thing to do is to go back to your architect and find out what his or her response is to the other opinions. If he or she is a good architect, he or she will be able to calm your fears and allay your doubts. It’s important that the two of you work as a team, which involves remembering that differences can be worked out. However, if you really feel that you don’t have full confidence in your architect’s professional views, perhaps you should consider ending the engagement. After all, there’s not much room for second or third opinions when you’re already pouring the concrete.
This article originally appeared as “Assessing Your Architect” in the November 2005 issue of Real Living Magazine.
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