Building or remodelling a home can be the fulfilment of your dreams, but it can also be a little scary! It’s a huge expense for most people and you’re sure to want to get it right. Using an architect can be a great way to make sure you get what you want from your build and avoid costly mistakes. Working well with the right architect partner for your project will enable you to lean on their experience and use that to bring your vision and ideas to life in concrete plans that make it easy for your contractor to work from and deliver exactly what you’re after. The first step to making this work is to have a really productive initial meeting with your architect.
Preparation for the meeting
- Think about what type of architect will suit you: Do you want one that specialises in your type of project? Or are you looking to bring in someone whose portfolio is more varied who may have different ideas? Would you prefer to work with a small firm or a large one? What design style are you looking for them to be able to deliver?
- Prepare your story: Whether they elicit the information through a standard questionnaire or a more informal chat, your architect will want to get to know you. They’ll need to know all about the people who live in the house, how you live, what you like or don’t like about your current home, what objectives you have for the project and things like budget, timeframe and planning permissions. Getting these things prepared in advance and clear in your own head in advance of the meeting will ensure you give a better brief.
- Share your ideas: If you have an opinion, now is the time to share it. Give as much detail as you can on what you do and don’t like design wise, share images that inspired the project and make sure the architect is clear on values you have such as sustainability.
Questions are key
Just as you’ll want to share as much as you can with your architect so they can get to know you, you need to get to know them as well to be sure they’re the right partner for your project. Here are a few of the key questions you might ask:
- Are you registered? Registered architects have to comply with industry standards and are a safer bet.
- Can I see your portfolio? You’ll want to like at least some of the work an architect has done so you know you can share the aesthetic.
- Can you show me projects similar to mine? Knowing that an architect has successfully completed similar projects will give you peace of mind that they can handle yours.
- What’s your track record with planning applications? There’s no point in working with an architect to design your dream home if it’s likely to be refused permission to become reality.
- Who will I be working with and when will I meet with them or hear from them? You need clear lines of communication and accountability to ensure a good working relationship.
- What’s included in the service and what isn’t? Making sure you’re clear on what the architect will be doing and not doing will help you align your expectations and give your contractor a clear line where responsibility stops.
- How do you structure your fees? Some firms charge for an initial meeting and different companies have different fee schedules so it’s important for the overall project budget management to know what needs to be paid and when.
- What ideas do you have for my project? Once you’ve shared your vision, invite your architect to show their creativity and expertise with a few ideas of their own.
- Do you have a preferred contractor? Many architects have strong relationships with reputable builder that you can leverage to cut down the time spent searching for a decent contractor.
Great meetings support great projects
- Agree on next steps: Make sure you’re clear on what your architect will do next and what the steps are to beginning work. This will prevent any awkward misunderstandings when they present you with designs and an invoice when you didn’t even think you’d hired them yet!
- Take notes: Take specific notes of everything that happens during the meeting so you both have a record. Be sure to cover:
- Specific actions/decisions
- Outstanding queries to be addressed and their owner
- Details around budget, timescale and project management
- Ideas you'd like explored or incorporated into proposed designs
A great first meeting with an architect will provide a solid platform to go on and design your dream home without endless rounds of revisions and miscommunications. Follow the steps outlined above and you can’t go far wrong. Need any help finding the right architect for you? Book a free consultation with us, and we'll be happy to put you in touch with one. We wish you all the luck in the world designing your new space!