How Do You Find The Right Architect For Your Dream Home?
Here's how to choose the best professional to help you achieve your dream house
Building a house is a daunting task. This makes it crucial to hire the best person to be your architect, as this can spell the difference between a nightmare project and the house of your dreams. But how do you determine who’s right for you and your needs? Here are some questions you should ask an architect before hiring him or her:
1. Given this budget, what can I accomplish?
What you want to have is an architect who will assess your situation carefully. He or she should be able to tell you not just the good news but also the bad news, especially those regarding renovation jobs, which are always fraught with potential technical problems that may not be evident from the start, such as damaged structural members or leaky roofs. The architect is in a better position to tell the client what issues to watch out for, which may impact your budget for the project. You should have an architect who is willing to forego a project if he or she thinks that the problems may be beyond your capacity or resources.
2. Are you comfortable doing this kind of style?
If you have a fixed vision of the kind of style you want, then you should look for an architect who is comfortable with that style or who at least agrees that he or she is willing to work along those lines. Every style will have its own different application and variation, and it is important that you get a feel of how the architect hopes to be able to translate that.
3. What are your ideas about ensuring maintainability?
You should ask the architect how he takes into consideration the maintainability of the structure and its different components. Maintenance does not only factor in the choice of materials but also the general design of the house. Ask him or her to explain what his or her approach is towards keeping the building envelope—the component of a structure which helps protect it from possibilities of weather damage or effects of climate change—integral. He or she should be able to give you alternatives, because most houses, if not designed right, will show problems within the first five years.
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4. What kind of experience do you have?
Track record may or may not be important. There are young architects with very innovative ideas who may not have the experience and track record of older architects but who would be more willing to work closely with you and would have more time to put into the project. The only caveat is that there may be certain aspects of the project where the reduced experience could translate into possible problems. Therefore, you should try to assess whether the complexity of the project can be matched by what you perceive to be the capability of the architect.
5. Which of your projects are you most proud of?
Throughout the course of his or her career, an architect may have done some projects which were not realistic or accurate manifestations of his or her design approach or capabilities. Perhaps he or she had been forced to compromise on certain ideas, or there had been problems beyond his or her control. The architect should show you a proper representation of a project he or she deems successful, not only in terms of style or approach, but also in terms of the level of satisfaction it gave both the architect and the client in the end.
6. Did you have projects that went bad? If so, why?
Ask the architect to be candid in his or her narration of what had happened. In that way, you are able to assess whether he or she has a capability for conflict management, resolution, and compromise. If it had been a credible discourse, the architect would be honest about it. He or she might say, “Kaya kami hindi nagkasundo is because I had this idea, he had this idea, at hindi kami magkatugma.” If the architect can offer an objective analysis of why that project went wrong, that could be a good signal. But if the architect responds by simply blaming everything on his or her former client, that’s already a warning sign.
This article originally appeared as “Assessing your architect” in the November 2005 issue of Real Living magazine.
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